Like cotton, rice has long been a staple of Southern living.
Grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas by some estimates as early as 1685, rice is one of the United States’ oldest agribusinesses.
To learn more about different varieties of rice, read the accompanying list.
Welcome to National Rice Month
With the advent of fall, National Rice Month celebrates the rice harvest and honors the contribution of the U.S. rice industry to America's economy.
Rice production generates approximately $34 billion a year – that’s about 20 billion pounds of rice grown on approximately 3.5 million acres.
The United States is one of the top five rice-producing nations of the world even though we produce less than two percent of the world’s rice crop.
Sponsored and organized by the USA Rice® Federation – the USA Rice Producers' Group, USA Rice Millers' Assoc., USA Rice Council and USA Rice Merchants' Assoc. – National Rice Month is dedicated to the proposition that Americans do not know enough (not even Southerners) about rice.
Like, for instance, that RiceTec®, an American rice growers’ consortium based in Texas, is the first producer to hybridize basmati rice in the Western hemisphere. RiceTec won and holds a controversial U. S. Patent – No. 5,663,484.
First tested in 1997 and now branded as Tex-Mati® and grown on the upper Texas coast, this variety of long-grained rice – native to Pakistan and the Punjab region of India – is prized for its fragrance and delicate nutty flavor.
Not all rice is white or long-grain
There’s more to classing rice than just color.
For one thing, until it’s polished, almost all rice is brown.
The layers of bran and rice germ that encase the kernel.
The rice which we call brown retains its bran and germ.
Rich in proteins, complex carbohydrates and B-complex vitamins, brown rice is a whole grain much favored by nutritionists – not just for its nutty texture.
White, or polished, rices lack some of the proteins and vitamins of brown rice.
The trade-off is their lower glycemic index, making them a better choice for diabetics and others on low-gluten or gluten-free diets.
The length of rice grains determines their texture and flavor.
Long grains like basmati and jasmine rice? Firmer texture, lighter more aromatic flavor, less stickiness.
Medium grains and short grains have richer, nuttier flavors and stick together more when cooking to add creamy smoothness to risotto, rice puddings, etc.
Now, in particular in California, rice farmers are growing red and black varieties of rice (also whole grains) that add not only stronger aromatic flavors to foods but also add color because their brans dye the rice grains as they cook.
Rice isn’t just inexpensive
The health benefits of eating rice are both more extensive and more obvious than you think.
For the record, rice:
- May reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure and Type II diabetes.
- Triggers the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain that helps regulate and improve mood
- Is sodium- and cholesterol-free
- Contains trans-fats or saturated fats
- Contributes over 15 vitamins and minerals including folate and other B-vitamins, iron and zinc
- Is an energy food, supplying fuel for the body's mental and physical activity in the form of complex carbs that digest more slowly
Have no fear – rice bran and its health benefits don’t go to waste.
Stabilzed rice bran, rich in antioxidants, is used in breads, breakfast cereals, baking mixes, batters, breadings and vitamin concentrates.
Other rice by-products – rice bran oil, rice starch, rice protein – are used in frying, to thicken sauces and gravies, energy bars and protein drinks.
Rice syrup is a lower- glycemic substitute for sugar, honey, corn syrup, molasses and maple syrup.
Fun rice facts
You know your drinking buddies are bound to ask, so warm up your bar stool and soak up some rice trivia:
- Rice has been produced in the United States for more than 300 years.
- The U.S. is the world’s fourth largest rice exporter.
- 85% of rice consumed in the United States is grown here.
- Sustainably grown U.S. rice helps consumers reduce their food miles by choosing a domestically-grown product.
- 10,000 farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Missouri grow US rice.
- US rice farmers produce high-quality varieties of short, medium and long grain as well as organic and specialty varieties including jasmine, basmati, arborio, red aromatic and black japonica, among others.
- Rice growing is eco-friendly and has a positive impact on the environment. Rice fields create a wetland habitat for many species of birds, mammals and reptiles.
About the USA Rice® Federation
Dedicated to advocacy for the rice industry, the USA Rice® Federation is the global contact for all segments of the U.S. rice industry with a mission to promote and protect the interests of producers, millers, merchants and allied businesses.
USA Rice Federation
- 2101 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 610,
- Arlington, Va. 22201
- Phone: 703-236-2300
- Fax: 703-236-2301
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact: email@example.com