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Rice fields on Java
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Oryza

Oryza barthii
Oryza glaberrima
Oryza latifolia
Oryza longistaminata
Oryza punctata
Oryza rufipogon
Oryza sativa

ITIS 41975 2002-09-22

This article is about the food grain, not the university or Condoleezza Rice; see also rice (disambiguation).

Rice (genus Oryza) is a plant of the grass family which feeds more than 99% of the world's human population. Rice cultivation is well suited to countries with low labor costs, but high rainfall as it is very labor-intensive to cultivate and requires plenty of water for irrigation. However it can be grown practically anywhere, even on steep hillsides. Rice is the world's third largest crop, behind maize (corn) and wheat.


Rice cultivation

Rice is often grown in paddies — shallow puddles (typically 15 cm depth) carefully controlled to ensure the appropriate water depth. Rice paddies sometimes serve a dual agricultural purpose by also producing edible fish or frogs, a useful source of protein. The farmers take advantage of the rice plant's tolerance to water: the water in the paddies prevents weeds from outgrowing the crop. Once the rice has established dominance of the field, the water can be drained in preparation for harvest. Paddies increase productivity, although rice can also be grown on dry land (including on terraced hillsides) with the help of chemical weed controls.

In some instances, a deepwater strain of rice often called floating rice is grown. This can develop elongated stems capable of coping with water depths exceeding 2 meters (6 feet).

Rice paddies are an important habitat for birds such as herons and warblers, and a wide range of amphibians and snakes. They perform a useful function in controlling insect pests.

Whether it is grown in paddies or on dry land, rice requires a great amount of water compared to other food crops. Rice growing is a controversial practice in some areas, particularly in the United States and Australia, where rice farmers use 7% of the nation's water to generate just 0.02% of GDP. However, in nations that have a periodical rain season and typhoons, rice paddies serve to keep the water supply steady and prevent floods from reaching a dangerous level.

Preparation as food

The seeds of the rice plant are first milled to remove the outer husks of the grain; this creates brown rice. This process may be continued, removing the rest of the husk, called bran at this point, creating white rice. The white rice may then be buffed with glucose or talc powder (often called polished rice), parboiled, or processed into flour.

Thus, it is a great misconception that washing rice will rinse away any nutrients, when in fact not washing rice creates a less desirable product after cooking.

The bran, called nuka in Japan, is a valuable commodity in Asia and is used for many daily needs. It is a moist inner oily layer that is heated to produce a very healthy oil. Another use is to make a kind of pickled vegetable.

The raw rice may be ground into flour for many uses as well, including making many kinds of beverages (see below). Also, rice is generally safe for people on a gluten-free diet.

The processed rice seeds are usually boiled or steamed to make them edible, after which they may be fried in oil, or butter, or beaten in a tub to make mochi.

Rice, like other cereal grains, can be puffed (or popped). This process takes advantage of the grains' moisture content and typically involves heating grain pellets in a special chamber. Further puffing is sometimes accomplished by processing pre-puffed pellets in a low-pressure chamber. By the ideal gas law, one can see that both lowering the local pressure or raising the moisture temperature would result in an increase in volume prior to moisture evaporation, thus resulting in a puffy texture.

Rice dishes and beverages

See Category:Rice dishes, Wikibooks' Rice Recipes for more information on popular rice dishes.

Beverages made from rice include: amazake, horchata, rice milk, and sake.

A result of the UN:Year of Rice is a new method of preparing rice that gives a complete amino acid profile, including GABA. This method is referred to as GABA Rice.

  • Soak washed brown rice 8-12 hours in body temperature water. Cook and use as normal, but will cook faster due to presoaking.

The reason that this is nutritionally superior is due to initiating the germination process and the enzymes have been activated. Like beans, rice should always be soaked ahead of time anyway. Not only will the rice cook faster, but it will have a much better "chew". Note also that white rice will not work for GABA-method and you don't have to worry about combining your rice with a protein food like beans.

History of rice cultivation

Two rice varieties were domesticated Asian rice O. sativa and African rice O. glaberrima. It is commonly agreed that common wild rice (Oryza rufipogon Griff.) was the wild ancestor of the Asian cultivated rice. O. sativa [1].

Oryza sativa was domesticated in ancient China [2] circa 6000 BC to 5000 BC, although some make claims for older finds. None of those claims for earlier rice remains have yet been directly dated. The genetic origin of the landraces of O. sativa indica and japonica, remains uncertain.

African rice Otyza glaberrima has been cultivated in Africa for 3500 years, and is well adapted to the African environment. However it has lower yields than Asian rice.

Dry-land rice was introduced to Japan circa 1000 BC. Later wet-paddy rice agriculture was brought to Japan by the Yayoi circa 300 BC. From India rice spread to southern Europe, O. sativa crop was common in West Africa by the end of the 17th century, grown for increased yields over the local variety.

Colonial South Carolina and Georgia grew and amassed great wealth from the slave labor obtained from the Senegambia area of West Africa. At the Port of Charleston, through which 40% of all American slave imports passed, slaves from this region of Africa brought the highest prices, in recognition of their prior knowledge of rice culture, which was put to use on the many rice plantations around Georgetown, Charleston, and Savannah. From the slaves, plantation owners learned how to dike the marshes and periodically flood the fields. At first the rice was milled by hand with wooden paddles, then winnowed in sweetgrass baskets (the making of which was another skill brought by the slaves). The invention of the rice mill increased profitability of the crop, and the addition of water power for the mills in 1787 by millwright Jonathan Lucas was another step forward. Rice culture in southeastern USA became less profitable with the loss of slave labor after the American Civil War, and it finally died out just after the turn of the 20th century.

The United States is a major rice producing and exporting country. It supplies approximately 12% of the global rice market. Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Mississippi, Texas, and Missouri are the largest producing states. Arkansas is the leading producer with just under half of the total United States rice production in 2003.


American long grain rice
American long grain rice

Rice varieties are often classified by their grain shapes. For example, Thai or Siamese Jasmine rice is long-grain and relatively less sticky, as long-grain rice contains less starch than short-grain varieties. Chinese restaurants usually serve long-grain as plain unseasoned steamed rice. Japanese mochi rice and Chinese sticky rice are short-grain. Chinese people use sticky rice which is properly known as "glutinous rice" (despite the fact that no form of rice actually contains gluten) to make zongzi. The Japanese table rice is a short grain non-sticky rice. Japanese sake rice is another kind as well.

Indian rice varieties include long-grained Basmati (grown in the North), medium-grained Patna and short-grained Masoori. One variety used widely in South India, is usually referred to in English as boiled rice or parboiled rice. This is prepared by boiling the rice in large pans immediately after harvesting, often over coconut-shell fires, to kill any fungi or other contaminants. It is then dried, and the husk removed later. It often displays small red speckles, and has a smoky flavour from the fires. This rice is used mainly to make idlis.

Aromatic rices have definite aromas and flavors; the most noted varieties are the aforementioned basmati, and a hybrid of basmati and American long-grain rice sold under the trade name, Texmati (which is a genetically modified patented variety that is creating great controversy), both of which have a mild popcorn-like aroma and flavor. In Indonesia there are also red and black varieties.

High-yield varieties of rice suitable for cultivation in Africa and other dry ecosystems called the new rice for Africa (NERICA) cultivars have been developed. Their cultivation will hopefully improve food security in West Africa.

Scientists are working on so-called golden rice which is genetically modified to produce beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. This has generated a great deal of controversy over whether the amount of beta carotene would be significant and whether genetically modified foods are desirable.

Draft genomes for the two commonest rice cultivars, indica and japonica, were published in April 2002. Rice was chosen as a model organism for the biology of grasses because of its relatively small genome (~430 Megabases). As a result rice was the first plant or animal to have its complete genome mapped. Basmati rice is the oldest, common progenitor for most types.

International Year of Rice

On December 16, 2002, the UN General Assembly declared the year 2004 the International Year of Rice. The declaration was sponsored by Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Fiji, Gabon, Grenada, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Mali, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Vietnam, and Zambia.

See also

External links

Last updated: 10-09-2005 22:03:18
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