The year 2013 is declared by the Philippine government as the National Year of Rice. The month of November is also set aside as the Rice Awareness Month. The Philippines is aiming for a hundred percent rice self-sufficiency before the year ends and is even batting to be a net exporter of rice, particularly the high-value ones such as the colored rice varieties – black rice, brown rice and red rice.
Filipinos, like most Asians, do not ever get tired of eating rice in the same way that Westerners never get tired of eating bread. Filipinos can survive most anything for as long as we have rice. A lady neighbor who is married to an American told me that when her husband brought her to the States, she went through a 5-day rice fast which left her so desperate for rice that she asked her husband to drive her to the nearest restaurant which was said to serve rice. At the said restaurant, she broke down in tears when she discovered that it was not rice as Filipinos know it but rather couscous!
Notwithstanding our rice love however, research shows that a typical Filipino wastes about 2 tablespoons of rice each day. The sad fact is that the total rice wastage per year is enough to feed 2 million people! This reminds me to get back to the old-fashioned way of cleaning one’s plate and of wasting not a single grain.
In this Year of Rice, let us celebrate the blessing of rice. Also, let us try to promote the following healthy and frugal practices with regards to eating rice.
- Eat as much whole-grain rice as you can. I say life is too short to spend it eating only one kind of rice. You can choose from brown rice, red rice and black rice, all of which are less milled than white rice and thus have more fiber and nutrients.
- If you find the colored rice varieties too expensive (like I do), try mixing a little colored rice into your white rice. Better a little than none at all. I use a 1:10 ratio, with a cup of colored rice mixed into 10 cups of white rice. It doesn’t hurt our family budget at all, and our rice smells, looks and tastes amazing.
- Spread the news that colored rice is better. Tell your relatives and friends to use colored rice. If you have friends who own eateries and restaurants, tell them to try using colored rice. Rice with pretty hues of red and purple looks far more appetizing and may just attract more customers. By promoting the patronage of our heirloom rice varieties, you will be helping Filipino farmers and social entrepreneurs who grow and sell these kinds of rice. And when more of us eat colored rice, it will encourage higher production which would, in turn, bring down the price of colored rice.
- Eat only the recommended serving for your height and weight – usually only a cup per meal for each average-sized person. Unlimited rice is neither a healthy nor a frugal system.
- Try to clean your plate, with nary a grain left. Serve yourself only what you can consume. This will fatten your pocket. And thin your waist.