Unlocking Rice’s Secrets: 20+ Facts of this Global Staple Food

Variety of types and colours of rice - red, black, basmati, whole grain, long grain parboiled and arborio - in bowls

Rice is a staple food source that is consumed widely across the world. In fact, it is a staple diet for many people living in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and many other parts of the world. Rice is such a versatile food that it can be consumed in various forms, making it the ideal food for any meal (morning, noon, or night).

If you have already learned a lot about rice just by reading the above, imagine how much more there is to rice that you don’t already know! There’s a lot more to rice than meets the eye. I find it particularly interesting, that rice is actually harvested from a type of grass. You can even grow this grass at home by creating your own rice paddy. The internet has a lot of information on this, if such a project tickles your fancy. In the meantime, if you want to get an insight into the many facts about rice, read on. 

These are 21 facts about rice:

1. Rice is the third most-produced food commodity in the world with sugarcane and corn ahead of it.

More than 700 million tons of rice are harvested annually on a global scale. Sugarcane is the most produced crop in the world, with about 2 billion tons produced annually. Corn (maize) is the second most-produced crop and comes in around 1 billion tons annually. 

Asian uncooked white rice with the rice field background

2. The only continent that doesn’t grow rice is Antarctica.

Why, you ask? Due to the constant winters in Antarctica, it is very difficult to grow any crops outdoors. Business Insider presents an interesting article on the challenges faced by the continent when it comes to vegetable growing, which you can read here.

3. Eating rice can trigger the production of serotonin. 

Ever had that feeling like you can just eat more and more when you’re tucking into a bowl of rice? Well, that’s because rice is a carbohydrate. When eating carbs, serotonin production in the brain is triggered. When this hormone is released, it makes you feel happy. Need a mood boost? Grab a bowl of rice.

4. Brown rice is a good form of plant protein.

Brown rice is a good form of protein and is readily eaten by vegans and vegetarians for that very reason. According to Medical News Today, 1 cup of cooked brown rice (long grain) contains approximately 5.54g of protein. 

5. Rice expands 3 to 4 times its size when cooked.

When rice is cooked according to the bag’s instructions, it expands. This means that you can feed a large family with a considerable small amount of rice. 

6. Nutrients and minerals can be found in rice.

Brown jasmine rice in hemp sack bag isolated on old rustic wood table background

Rice is a good source of minerals and nutrients, including magnesium, iron, and zinc. These are minerals and nutrients essential for healthy living. 

7. Archaeologists have found that rice was produced back in 8,000 BC.

The exact origin of rice is not precise. We know that it is centuries old, and some archaeologists have discovered remnants and evidence of rice dating back to 8,000 BC

8. The Great Wall of China is partly held together by rice.

This one is fairly difficult to believe, but it’s true. The Great Wall of China owes its strength to the sticky rice that’s included in it. When the Great Wall was built in the Ming dynasty, a porridge made with rice would be mixed with calcium carbonate to use as a mortar and hold the stones of the wall firmly in place. 

9. 90% of the world’s rice production is consumed in Asia.

Billions of people in Asia eat rice. Since rice is readily available and affordable, it forms around 50% of their calorie intake each day. 

10. Rice grain comes in 3 length types.

If you take a look at the packaging that rice comes in, you will note that there are different varieties: short grain, medium grain, and long grain. Most fitness and health enthusiasts opt for brown long grain rice

11. White rice, when correctly stored, has a shelf life of up to 30 years.

What is the storage shelf life of brown rice and white rice? Is it long or short? White rice is able to last for up to 30 years if it is stored in an airtight container or plastic bag. Brown rice, however, can only be stored for less than a year as the outer hull will oxidize over time. 

12. Scientific evidence proves that all forms of rice originated in Ancient China.

Landscape of Guilin, Li River and Karst mountains. Located near Yangshuo County, Guilin City, Guangxi Province, China

This was discovered in 2011 when genetic evidence was investigated. It was found that all Asian forms of rice actually came from a single domestication, which happened some 8,200 to 13,500 years back. This was said to have originated in Ancient China in the Pearl River Valley. 

13. There are 40,000 varieties of rice.

While there are 40,000 varieties of rice to choose from, there are 3 most popular types which are: Basmati, Arborio, and Jasmine. 

14. Rice is naturally gluten-free. 

Lots of people are out there looking for staple foods that are gluten-free. Good news – rice is gluten-free! People who are gluten-free can get their starch and carbs from rice, which is naturally gluten-free. 

15. Rice is packed with Vitamin B.

 Another reason why rice is so appreciated by the vegan and vegetarian communities is that it is a good source of B vitamins. These are Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, and Folate.

16. The Japanese believe rice should be soaked before eating, for superstitious reasons.

The Japanese culture believes in soaking rice before cooking and eating it. Apparently, this releases the life energy within the rice, and the person who eats it will have a more peaceful soul. 

17. Rice is traditionally used as “confetti” at weddings. 

Have you ever thrown raw rice at a wedding when the bride and groom leave the chapel or church? The throwing of rice is to symbolizes life and fertility at weddings

18. Cooked rice can poison you, if you aren’t careful!

Sick man having stomach ache, food poisoning, stomach problems

Cooked rice can actually result in food poison if it is not refrigerated right after cooling. Bacteria can survive the cooking process and will grow at room temperature. To stop this from happening, store left-over cooked rice in the fridge and always heat it to the cooking point again before eating it.

19. The brand names “Toyota” and “Honda” are inspired by rice

Yip, it’s true. When you are driving your Toyota or Honda around, you are actually driving a “rice” car. It seems bizarre, doesn’t it? Well, it is true because Toyota is Japanese for “bountiful rice field” and “Honda” is Japanese for “main rice field”. 

20. Rice is used to make alcoholic beverages.

Rice is a great ingredient for making alcoholic beverages. They are actually some of the most potent beverages in the world and include sake and rice wine.

21. In India, the first meal a baby eats should be rice as it signifies growth.

While this is a belief, this usually refers to a child’s first solid food meal. 

If you have been wondering if there’s any value to rice, now you have 21 reasons why it’s well worth your time. Such an interesting food source that also seems to be feeding the world – maybe it’s time you started appreciating more rice in your life too. 

+ posts

This article was co-authored by our team of writers and editors who share one thing in common: their passion for food and drinks!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco works as a New York-based editor at Foodrinke, driven by his lifelong love for food. His culinary journey began in childhood, as he eagerly assisted his mother with her local sandwich and bakery business, relishing every opportunity to sample her creations. Known among family and friends as an easy eater, JC has a particular affinity for Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Peruvian cuisine. At Foodrinke, he channels his passion for food into his work, sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with readers.