According to the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary (2004) and the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (1988), the word rice has an Indo-Iranian origin. It came to English from Greek óryza, via Latin oriza, Italian riso and finally Old French ris (the same as present day French riz).
It has been speculated that the Indo-Iranian vrihi itself is borrowed from a Dravidian vari(warinci) or even a Munda language term for rice, or the Tamil name arisi from which the Arabic ar-ruzz, from which the Portuguese and Spanish word arroz originated.
Importance of Rice as a Food
It has been estimated that half the world's population subsists wholly or partially on rice. Ninety percent of the world crop is grown and consumed in Asia. American consumption, although increasing, is still only about 25 lb (11 kg) per person annually, as compared with 200 to 400 lb (90–181 kg) per person in parts of Asia. Rice is the only major cereal crop that is primarily consumed by humans directly as harvested, and only wheat and corn are produced in comparable quantity. Plant breeders at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, attempting to keep pace with demand from a burgeoning world population, have repeatedly developed improved varieties of “miracle rice” that allow farmers to increase crop yields substantially.
Brown rice has a greater food value than white, since the outer brown coatings contain the proteins and minerals; the white endosperm is chiefly carbohydrate. As a food rice is low in fat and (compared with other cereal grains) in protein. The miracle rices have grains richer in protein than the old varieties. In the East, rice is eaten with foods and sauces made from the soybean, which supply lacking elements and prevent deficiency diseases. Elsewhere, especially in the United States, rice processing techniques have produced breakfast and snack foods for retail markets. Deficient in gluten, rice cannot be used to make bread unless its flour is mixed with flour made from other grains.
Besides consuming with main courses, rice and its parts have various other uses. The unedible parts, that are discarded through the milling process, and the edible part could be transformed into some of the following suggested products:
Over 90% of the rice husks in Thailand are utilized in fuel for commercial rice mill steam generators. To increase the fuel's effectiveness, rice husks are burned and compressed into briquettes. If carbonized, these briquettes could become a high-quality charcoal.
The bran is the most nutritious part of rice and provides a good natural source of vitamin B. In Thailand, approximately 40% of the rice bran is extracted for cooking oil. The remaining 60% are utilized in animal feed production.
Rice Bran Oil (extracted from the rice bran)
Rice bran oil
is a high-quality cooking oil because it could decrease the blood cholesterol level.
Approximatele 70% of the broken rice produced in Thailand is used as feeding ingredients or made into instant noodles and snacks. In the milling process of highly efficient milling machine, 26% of the yield will be broken rice, with the remaining 39% whole head rice, 11% bran, and 24% husks.
Rice flour, made from 30% of the broken rice produced in Thailand, is used to produce rice pasta, chips, and other snacks, as well as cereals. It could also be a substitute for wheat flour products.
(main component of milled rice)Rice starch is used as a thickener in making sauces, desserts, and sweet syrup. It contains the endosperm of grain, which makes up approximately 92% of milled rice weight (dry weight).
Rice straw has various uses in Thailand. Approximately 10% of the straw are utilized as a medium to grow mushrooms, 50% are used for animal feeds, 30% are used in paper making, and the rest are burnt away in other food production process.
Rice used in Beverage Making
Many alcoholic beverages are made from rice (i.e. broken rice). Some of the examples include sake or saki, traditionally called rice wine, and beer.
The pith of rice paper trees is used to make rice paper. This type of rice product is particularly used in cigarette wrapping; some are edible, such as those used in wrapping candies.
Rice glue is made by dissolving a proportional ratio of rice in boiling water.
Medicinal Uses of Rice
Rice is believed by some to have medicinal properties. Although, this is not scientifically proven effective, it has been used in many countries for medicinal purpose. For example:
Some Interesting Facts About Rice
- Philippines: Rice polishings-the bran-is extracted and used as an excellent source of Vitamin B to prevent and cure beri-beri.
- Malaysia: In the Medicinal Book of Malayan Medicine, it is prescribed that boiled rice "greens" can be used as an eye lotion and for use with acute inflammation of the inner body tissues. The book also recommends applying a mixture of dried, powdered rice on certain skin ailments.
- Cambodia: The hulls (husk) of mature rice plants are considered useful for treating dysentery. The hulls of a three-month old rice plant are thought to be diuretic.
- China: The Chinese believe rice strengthens the spleen, as well as "weak stomach," increases appetite, and cures indigestion. Dried sprouted rice grains were once used as an external medicine to aid in digestion, give tone to muscles, and expel gas from the stomach and intestines.
- India: Rice water is prescribed by the Pharmacopoeia of India as an ointment to counteract inflamed surface.
Rice - Traditional Medicine
- More than 90 percent of the world's rice is grown and consumed in Asia, where people typically eat rice two or three times a daily. Rice is the staple diet of half the world's population.
- Rice farming has been traced back to around 5,000 BC.
- Hundreds of millions of the poor spend half to three fourths of their incomes on rice and only rice.
- To plow 1 hectare of land in the traditional way, a farmer and his water buffalo must walk 80 km.
- It takes 5,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of irrigated rice.
- More than 140,000 varieties of cultivated rice (the grass family Oryza sativa) are thought to exist but the exact number remains a mystery.
- Three of the world's four most populous nations are rice-based societies: People's Republic of China, India, and Indonesia. Together, they have nearly 2.5 billion people almost half of the world's population.
- The average Asian consumer eats 150 kg of rice annually compared to the average European who eats 5 kg.
- Every year, 50 million people are added to Asia's soaring population of 3.5 billion.
- Improved varieties are planted on three fourths of Asia's rice land and are responsible for producing most of the continent's rice.
- Asia is home to 250 million rice farms. Most are less than 1 hectare.
- In several Asian languages the words for 'food' and 'rice' are identical.
- Rice is thrown on newly married couples as a symbol of fertility, luck and wealth.
- 65 kilos of rice are milled annually for every person on earth.
The uses of rice in traditional medicine are closely interwoven with its use as a food. The main rice-products used as medicines are made from brown rice and rice oil from rice bran. Some of its traditional uses are supported by scientific studies.
Rice can be used to treat skin conditions. The rice is boiled, drained and allowed to cool and mashed. The rice is made into a paste or moulded into balls and these can be applied to boils, sores, swellings and skin blemishes.
Other herbs are sometimes added to the rice balls to increase their medicinal effects. Sticky glutinous rice is often taken to treat stomach upsets, heart-burn and indigestion. Extracts from brown rice have been used to treat breast and stomach cancer and warts. They have also been used to treat indigestion, nausea and diarrhoea.
Rice - Cosmetics
Rice extracts like starch and oil are used in a range of cosmetic and hygiene products. They are considered to have moisturising and nourishing effects on the hair and skin.
Starch, oil and proteins from rice are currently being used in different cosmetic formulations to treat the skin. Rice starch can be mixed with honey to nourish the skin and can be used in cosmetics to reduce facial 'shine'.
The oil is used in sun care products to absorb UV-rays as well as in conditioners for hair care and in shower and shampoo products. It is also reported to have moisturising and anti-ageing properties. Extracts containing rice protein are added to hair products to give a feeling of volume and thickness to the hair.