History of Rice
Starting in 2500 B.C., rice has been a source of food for people. Rice production orginated in China, and was spread to countries such as Sri Lanka and India. (3) It is believed that rice was brought to West Asia and Greece in 300 B.C. by Alexander the Great's armies. (4)
In 800 A.D., people in East Africa traded with people from India and and Indonesia and were introduced to rice.
To watch a video of how rice is harvested in China, click here.
It was a common belief in the Middle Ages that rice fields were a breeding ground for Malaria. People believed that mosquitos easily layed their eggs in the water of the rice fields. (4)
It is hard to say exactly how rice was brought over to North America. One story says that a damaged ship was forced to dock in the Carolinas. In return for repairs, the captain of the ship gave the colonizers a bag of rice. (7) In addition, it is believed that slaves from Africa brought rice from their land. In 1700, 300 tons of American rice was shipped to England. (7) After the Civil War came to an end, rice was produced all over the South. (4) In the United States, rice is mainly grown in California, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The United States has adopted new technology and machinery to produce rice. On average, it takes around 7 man-hours per acre to cultivate rice. In Asia, it can take 300 man-hours to cultivate an acre of rice. (7) On average, an American consumes around 25 pounds of rice a year. In parts of Asia, a person can consume between 200 and 400 pounds of rice a year! (5)
Cultivated rice can be divided into two seperate species: Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima. Oryza sativa is much more commonly used to produce rice. Oryza Sativa L is commonly grown in Asia. (2) Today, rice is grown in four different ecosystems: irrigated, rainfed lowland, upland, and flood-prone (1).
In terms of nutritional value and value of production, rice is the most important crop in the world. For 3.3 billion people living in Asia, rice provides 35-80% of their total calorie intake. Although rice provides some nutritional value, such as protein, minerals, vitamins, and fiber, it does not provide enough nutrition to be a main source of food (1). Brown rice has more nutritional value than white rice. This is because the outer brown layer to the rice contains proteins and minerals. (5) The white part of the rice is mainly carbohydrates. (5) Rice can be stored indefinitely if it is stored in a cool, dry area. (6)
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