“With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bent arm for a pillow, I have still joy in the midst of all these things." -Confucius
Along with beans, no self-respecting survivalist would be caught dead without a proper stockpile of white rice. Why rice? Because it’s a marvelously nutritious food that keeps indefinitely, is easy to prepare, incredibly versatile, and expands to three times its original volume when cooked.
Although rice is the third largest grain crop in the world after corn and wheat, it’s the largest food crop, because much of the corn and wheat crop are fed to livestock. Rice is the mainstay food crop for more than half of the world’s population. Rice is unique among grain crops because it can be grown in swampy environments which would drown other crops. Such wet environments are abundant in Asia. Therefore, about 90 percent of the world’s rice is grown in Asia, where it’s typically consumed two or three times a day. It’s been estimated that more than one-fifth of the total calories consumed by humans world wide comes from rice. Wheat supplies slightly less than one-fifth of the world’s dietary calories, and corn provides only 5 percent.
Rice is 80 percent carbohydrates. It’s gluten free and the most non-allergenic of all grains. It does not contain all of the essential amino acids needed by the human body, so an all-rice diet would lead to nutritional deficiencies. However, rice combines well with whatever else you’ve got on hand: beans, nuts, fish, meat, vegetables, etc. Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice because it retains the oil-rich vitamin-dense high-fiber outer hull. However, because the husk is loaded with oil, and oil oxidizes easily, brown rice spoils far more quickly than white rice, in which the hull has been removed. Therefore, most preppers stick to storing white rice and skip the brown. Many rice factories will replace the lost nutrients by spraying the polished white rice with a coating of powdered vitamins. Therefore, it’s important not to rinse the rice before cooking it; otherwise, the vitamins are washed away. Instant rice is rice that has been cooked and then dried; it’s quicker to cook but the shelf life is far shorter than raw rice.
Remember the 1-2-3 rule for rice: One cup of rice plus two cups of water equals three cups of rice. When cooking raw rice when fuel is in short supply, simply soak the rice overnight in cold water and then heat and serve. Alternately, bring the rice to a boil, then cover the pot, remove from the heat, and place the pot in an insulated place such as a hole in the ground covered by dirt, or inside a basket lined with towels or crumpled newspapers.
When purchased in bulk at a warehouse store, a single serving of rice works out to as little as four cents a serving. If you were struggling to feed a hungry family, wouldn’t that be worth four cents?
The Chinese Word for Rice is the same as their word for food.
There are over 29,000 grains of rice in one pound of long grain rice.
96% of the worlds rice is eaten in the area in which it is grown.
More than 50 percent of the world's population is dependent upon rice for 80 percent of their diet.
China is the 3rd largest rice exporter in the world and also the 4th largest rice importer, as they sell high quality rice on the world market and buy low quality rice to feed their citizens
Some rice fields have been in continuous production for over 2,000 years. In some climates, rice farmers can harvest four crops per year.
A Perplexing Illness
Beriberi was a perplexing disease, causing fatigue, then death. The name comes from the Sri Lankan word meaning ‘weakness’. In 1894 Dutch doctor Christiaan Eijkman traveled to Indonesia to study it. Certain it was caused by a bacteria or virus, he tried unsuccessfully to infect rabbits and monkeys. Then he tried chickens. One group of chickens received injections of the beriberi bacteria, and another group did not. Suddenly, both groups came down with beriberi. Just as suddenly, both groups recovered. He was mystified. He spoke with the man who fed them. Back then, brown rice was undesirable, and white rice (which has the hull and the germ polished off) was desirable. Chickens were normally fed undesirable brown rice. But when the supply of brown rice ran out, the chickens received white rice instead, and they got sick. When more brown rice arrived, they recovered. Experiments proved that white rice made them ill; brown rice made them well. Subsequent trials in prisons found that prisoners fed only white rice got sick; those fed only brown rice did not. Eijkman concluded that white rice contains a poison which brown rice neutralizes, not realizing there’s a substance in brown rice that’s removed when polished. It wasn’t until 1912 that chemist Casimir Funk discovered ‘vital amines’, which was later shortened to ‘vitamins’. In 1926 the specific vitamin that prevents beriberi was isolated, and was named thiamine from the Greek word theio meaning sulfur, which it contains. In 1929 Christiaan Eijkman won a Nobel Prize for his work. What’s the common name of the vitamin he helped discover?
A New Method for an Old Stand-by
Attaullah Durrani left his native Afghanistan in the 1920s and came to America to study chemistry. He wanted to work in the petroleum industry but couldn’t find any openings. One night he attended a dinner party and met a man who was in the canning industry. He suggested that Durrani study rice instead. Cooking it was time consuming; what America needed was an easy way to cook rice. Perhaps Durrani could invent a way to put rice in cans. Durrani was intrigued and moved to the heart of rice country: Arkansas, where the local rice co-op gave him a laboratory. Years of experimentation showed that canning rice didn’t work. What did work was pre-cooking it, drying it, and packaging it in a box. It was easy to ship, the shelf life was long, and it would cook within minutes. In 1941 Durrani went to New York City and dropped in on an executive of General Foods. He whipped out an electric hot plate, a sauce pan, package of his rice, and a bowl. By the time he finished his speech, the rice was cooked, and the executive was impressed. Durrani received a handsome fee, and General Foods began working with instant rice. The Army was interested in the product because soldiers needed quick food in the field. The product hit the market in 1949 and is found in most American cupboards today. What’s it called?
Answer: Minute Rice.
A New Product
In 1890 Charlie DeDomenico left Italy to come to America. He moved to San Francisco, where he started a chain of fresh produce stores. He sent to Italy for his bride, Maria. Her family, who ran a successful pasta factory, closed their business and followed her to California. In 1912 Maria convinced Charlie to start a pasta factory which her family would run. They set up shop in the Mission District of San Francisco and sold bulk pasta to restaurants and grocery stores. They called it the Golden Grain Pasta Company, and their four sons helped run it. In the 1950s Charlie’s son Tom and his new bride Lois had dinner with their landlady, who was Armenian and served an Armenian dish that combined rice pilaf with vermicelli. It was very tasty, and Tom and his brother Vince wondered if they could add it as a sideline to the family’s pasta business, so they began experimenting. They added dehydrated chicken soup to the rice, packaged it individually instead of in bulk, and gave it a catchy new name which incorporated both of the main ingredients. Introduced in 1958, it sold well not only because of its taste, but also due to its easy preparation method, consisting of ‘sauté and simmer’. A trip to Italy in 1964 inspired a similar pre-packaged instant Alfredo noodle mix. Quaker Oats bought the company in 1986, but it still celebrates the San Francisco origins of the product. What’s the rice mix called?
Answer: Rice-A-Roni, combining rice with macaroni, and Pasta-Roni.