Rice is the seed of a swamp grass that is widely cultivated as a source of food for a large portion of the world’s population. Worldwide, rice trails only corn in production. However, since a large portion of corn is grown for other than human consumption, rice is the leading crop utilized for human nutrition in the world. Rice is used as an entrée or a side dish; it also has applications as a breakfast cereal and a dessert. Rice is an additive in some pet foods and multi-grain breads. Oil extracted from rice grains is used both as a cooking oil and a cooking ingredient. Rice is also the key ingredient used in the brewing of sake.
Worldwide, there are more than 40,000 varieties of rice, each of which can be classified as long-, medium- or short-grain rice. The primary difference in each rice is its cooking characteristics and, to a lesser extent, subtle flavor differences.1
A series of processing steps are necessary to prepare harvested rice (referred to as “rough” or “paddy” rice) for consumption. The initial step is to separate the rice husk from the rice grain. This may be the only step in the progression for some rice as it creates “brown rice,” which is valued as a health food product due to its high protein content. Otherwise, the rice is subjected to milling to remove the bran layer and then to polishing, where the surface of the rice is smoothed and given a shine by a series of rollers. After polishing, the rice is ready for packaging and delivery, either to a wholesaler or a processing facility.