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General information and profile:
rice It is one of the most important cereals used worldwide and as a staple food in many cultures of economic importance. The rice kernel is derived from the rice plant or Oryza sativa, which is today widely cultivated in many countries around the world. The term rice or Oryza goes back to the Latin word "oriza" and the ancient Greek "óryza" and is used in other terms in similar wording. In many Asian countries, where rice has been considered one of the staple foods for millennia, there are even several words for the popular grain.
Oryza sativa developed as a domesticated form of crosses from the two wild species Orya rufipogon, a one-year plant and the perennial Oryza nivara. Wild rice is native to humid regions of the tropics and subtropics of Asia and is therefore found in countries such as China, Burma, Loas, South Korea or Thailand. There, rice makes up to eighty percent of the food eaten by humans. Cultivated rice plants reach stature heights of up to 160 centimeters and form many stalks. These develop the slightly overhanging flower panicles, which each have up to a hundred spikelets. One single plant can produce up to three thousand fruits per year in the form of rice grains. Today, well over eight thousand different varieties of cultivated rice are known.
After the harvest, the rice must first be threshed, separated from the husks and then significantly reduced its water content. After these production processes only the rice grain remains, which consists of the so-called meal body as well as the seedling and the Silberhäutchen. The last two components are also removed for the processing of the popular white rice, whereby a significant portion of the nutrients is lost. What remains is the white rice kernel, which is polished using various additives such as talc and glucose.
History of the cultivation of rice:
Rice was domesticated in many Asian countries for an estimated seven thousand to ten thousand years, with scientists' opinions on history diverging. About three thousand years ago, people in Africa began growing rice plants. The plants then reached the United States during the 17th century. The main growing areas of rice are still in China, India and other countries in Southeast Asia, where the huge, terraced paddy fields dominate the landscapes. Although other countries outside Asia, including the USA, Italy, Spain and Portugal, also supply significant quantities of individual varieties, Southeast Asia supplies more than 95 percent of the annual volume produced and consumed worldwide. In Asian countries, such as China, about 90 kilograms of rice per year are consumed per capita, compared with only three kilograms in average in central European countries.
Use of rice:
Depending on the variety, rice is suitable for cooking as a carbohydrate-side garnish, as well as rice dishes such as risotto, paella and sushi, as well as for producing vegetable milk and alcoholic beverages such as rice wine or beer. The natural and unpolished whole grain rice, which in addition to its high fiber content also contains many vitamins and minerals, but is very low in calories and virtually fat-free, contributes to a healthy and wholesome diet. The complex carbohydrates in the dark rice are used by the body only slowly and ensure a long-lasting satiety. In addition, rice has a dehydrating effect and is therefore recommended especially in the context of diets as an alternative to pasta and other carbohydrate-containing side dishes. The husks of the rice kernel are also used in Asia as filling material for mattresses. The straw-dried plant material is suitable for the production of traditional hats and shoes thanks to its soft and flexible consistency.