Where was rice first grown?
Rice is one of the most important and fascinating foods in the world. Did you know that the Chinese used to greet each other not by saying "How do you do?" but by saying "Have you eaten your rice today?" This was because the rice was so important to them.
Nearly half the population of the world lives partly or almost entirely on a rice diet. In some countries of Asia, each person eats from two hundred to four hundred pounds of rice a year.
It is not known for certain where rice was first grown by man, but rice probably originated in southern India. We do know that it has been grown there for many thousands of years.
Rice spread from there eastward to China more than five thousand years ago. It spread westward into Persia and Egypt soon afterward. Rice was not introduced to North America until the 17th century. Although North Americans eat some rice, most of them prefer wheat. At the present time in the United States, only about 2 kilograms of rice per person is eaten every year.
Rice with the hulls removed is called brown rice. Brown rice is covered with a brownish outer skin called the bran, in which most of the vitamins and minerals of the rice grain are stored.
Brown rice does not keep as long as white rice, however. Also, most people prefer white, well-milled, polished rice to brown rice. In some countries, polished rice is enriched by adding vitamins and minerals.
Rice is used in many ways besides food. Rice flour is used for making glue, starch and in face powders. Wine is made from rice in Japan, China, and India.