1 Apr 2014

Rice

*RICE*
(Peru)


Rice is not native to the Americas but was introduced to Latin America and the Caribbean by European colonizers at an early date with Spanish colonizers introducing Asian rice to Mexico in the 1520 at Veracruz and the Portuguese and their African slaves introducing it at about the same time to Colonial Brazil. Recent scholarship suggests that enslaved Africans played an active role in the establishment of rice in the New World and that African rice was an important crop from an early period. Varieties of rice and bean dishes that were a staple dish along the peoples of West Africa remained a staple among their descendants subjected to slavery in the Spanish New World colonies, Brazil and elsewhere in the Americas. The Native Americans of what is now the Eastern United States may have practiced extensive agriculture with forms of wild rice. The ancient people of Peru built water-moving and preserving technologies like the aqueducts of Cumbe Mayo (c. 1500 BCE) or the Nazca's underground aqueducts called Puquios (date uncertain), or the terraced gardens of the Huari. Aqueducts were also utilized by the Moche. Another technique used to adapt the steep land of the Andes Mountains for farming was through terracing. The Chavin, the Moche and the Incas built terraces, or flattened areas of land, into the sides of hills. The terraces reduced soil erosion that would normally be high on a steep hill. These terraces are still used in Peru. The Incans also irrigated their fields with a system of reservoirs and cisterns to collect water, which was then distributed by canals and ditches. However, by the mid-19th century, only 3% of Peru's land was still farmable. It lagged far behind many other South American countries in agriculture. Much of the pre-history of Peru has been wrapped up in where the farmable land was located. The most populated coastal regions of Peru are the two parallel mountain ranges and the series of 20 to 30 rivers running through the coastal desert. In dry periods only the mountains are wet enough for agriculture and the desert coast is empty, while in wet periods many cultures have thrived along the rivers of the coast. The well known Inca were a mountain-based culture that expanded when the climate became more wet, often sending conquered peoples down from the mountains into unfarmed but farmable lowlands. In contrast, the Moche were a lowland culture that died out after a strong El NiƱo, which caused abnormally high rainfall and floods, which was followed by a long drought.
A study has shown that the crops of squash, peanuts, and cotton were domesticated in Peru around 10,000, 8,500, and 6,000 years ago, respectively. They were grown by the antic people in the Valley. No earlier instances of the farming of these crops are known. Peru is both afflicted and blessed by a peculiar climate due to the Humboldt Current. Before over fishing killed its fishery, Peru had the most productive fishery in the world due to the cold Humboldt Current. The current brings nutrients from a large portion of the Pacific floor to Peru's doorstep. On land, it results in a cold mist that covers coastal Peru to the extent that the desert plants have adapted to obtain water from the air instead of from the infrequent rainfall. The soil on the wet side of the mountains is thin, and the rivers on the dry side are few. This means all the water must be brought from the Atlantic side of the mountain ranges that split Peru. There were many obstacles to improving Peru's agricultural production. Since the conquest of the Inca, Peru has always been rich in natural resources such as tin, silver, gold, guano and rubber. These resources share the attribute that, at least in Peru, they were found, not grown. The train tracks laid in Peru did not connect its peoples, they connected the sources of these valuable resources to the sea. So there are few ways to bring agricultural products to market. The road system is still primitive in Peru, there is no connection to Brazil and only a little over a quarter of the 15th-century Inca road system has been rebuilt as modern highway. Another obstacle is the size of Peru's informal economy. This prevents Peru from practically applying an income tax, which means much of its revenue comes from a 13% tax on gross agricultural sales. This means Peruvian farmers must produce that much more product per dollar just to break even with farmers in countries that tax farmers on net profit. They have no chance at all of competing with agricultural products from countries that subsidize farmers, such as Japan, the United States and Europe. Today Peru grows agricultural commodities such as asparagus, potatoes, maize, rice, and coffee. Peru provides half of the world supply of quinoa. Peruvian agriculture uses synthetic fertilizers rather than the still-abundant guano due to infrastructure issues. The maize is not exportable due to large subsidies in Europe and the United States to its high-cost producers, but coffee is exportable. In recent years Peru has become the world's primary source of high-quality organic coffee. 


Peru does not have a quality control program such as Kenya's but its government has worked to educate farmers on how to improve quality. Despite the glut of coffee producers in the market today, coffee production in Peru is still promising. It naturally has the high altitudes and partial shade desired by Coffea arabica, and it has much more of such land available than competitors such as Jamaica and Hawaii. Rice is the staple food of over half the world's population. It is the predominant dietary energy source for 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, 9 countries in North and South America and 8 countries in Africa. Rice provides 20% of the world’s dietary energy supply, while wheat supplies 19% and maize (corn) 5%. A detailed analysis of nutrient content of rice suggests that the nutrition value of rice varies based on a number of factors. It depends on the strain of rice, that is between white, brown, black, red and purple varieties of rice – each prevalent in different parts of the world. It also depends on nutrient quality of the soil rice is grown in, whether and how the rice is polished or processed, the manner it is enriched, and how it is prepared before consumption.


An illustrative comparison between white and brown rice of protein quality, mineral and vitamin quality, carbohydrate and fat quality suggests that neither is a complete nutrition source. Between the two, there is a significant difference in fiber content and minor differences in other nutrients. Brilliantly colored rice strains, such as purple rice, derive their color from anthocyanins and tocols. Scientific studies suggest that these color pigments have antioxidant properties that may be useful to human health. In purple rice bran, hydrophilic antioxidants are in greater quantity and have higher free radical scavenging activity than lipophilic antioxidants. Anthocyanins and ?-tocols in purple rice are largely located in the inner portion of purple rice bran. Comparative nutrition studies on red, black and white varieties of rice suggest that pigments in red and black rice varieties may offer nutritional benefits. Red or black rice consumption was found to reduce or retard the progression of atherosclerotic plaque development, induced by dietary cholesterol, in mammals. White rice consumption offered no similar benefits, and the study claims this to be due to absent antioxidants in red and black varieties of rice. 


The health benefits of rice include its ability to provide fast and instant energy, regulate and improve bowel movements, stabilize blood sugar levels, and slow down the aging process, while also providing an essential source of vitamin B1 to the human body. Other benefits include its ability to boost skin health, increase the metabolism, aid in digestion, reduce high blood pressure, help weight loss efforts, improve the immune system and provide protection against dysentery, cancer, and heart disease. Rice is a fundamental food in many cultural cuisines around the world, and it is an important cereal crop that feeds more than half of the world’s population. The various benefits of rice can be found in more than forty thousand varieties of this cereal that is available throughout the world. The two main categories are whole grain rice and white rice. Whole grain rice is not processed very much, so it is high in nutritional value, whereas white rice is processed so that the bran or outer covering is removed, leaving it with less nutritional value. People choose different styles of rice for particular flavors, depending on their culinary needs, the availability, and the potential for healthy benefits. Rice can also be defined by the length of each grain. Indian or Chinese cuisines specialize in long grained rice, whereas western countries prefer short or medium length grains.
Since rice is abundant in carbohydrates, it acts as fuel for the body and aids in the normal functioning of the brain. Carbohydrates are essential to be metabolized by the body and turned into functional, usable energy. 
The vitamins, minerals, and various organic components increase the functioning and metabolic activity of all your organ systems, which further increases energy levels.
-Cholesterol Free: Eating rice is extremely beneficial for your health, simply because it does not contain harmful fats, cholesterol or sodium. It forms an integral part of balanced diet. Any food that can provide nutrients without having any negative impacts on health is a bonus! Low levels of fat, cholesterol, and sodium will also help reduce obesity and the health conditions associated with being overweight. 


Rice is one of the most widely used and eaten foods in the world because it can keep people healthy and alive, even in very small quantities:

-Blood Pressure Management: Rice is low in sodium, so it is considered one of the best foods for those suffering from high blood pressure and hypertension. Sodium can cause veins and arteries to constrict, increasing the stress and strain on the cardiovascular system as the blood pressure increases. This is also associated with heart conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, so avoiding excess sodium is always a good idea.
-Cancer Prevention: Whole grain rice like brown rice is rich in insoluble fiber that can protect against many types of cancer. Many scientists and researchers believe that such insoluble fibers are vital for protecting the body against the development and metastasis of cancerous cells. Fiber, specifically is beneficial in defending against colorectal and intestinal cancer. However, besides fiber, rice also has natural antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin-A, phenolic and flavonoid compounds, which also act as or stimulate antioxidants to scour the body for free radicals. Free radicals are byproducts of cellular metabolism that can do serious damage to your organ systems and cause the mutation of healthy cells into cancerous ones. Boosting your antioxidant levels is a great idea, and eating more rice is a wonderful way to do that.
-Skin care: Medical experts say that powdered rice can be applied topically to cure certain skin ailments. On the Indian subcontinent, rice water is readily prescribed by ayurvedic practitioners as an effective ointment to cool off inflamed skin surfaces. The phenolic compounds that are found in rice, particularly in brown or wild rice, have anti-inflammatory properties, so they are also good for soothing irritation and redness. Whether consumed or topically applied, substance derived from rice tend to relieve a number of skin conditions. The antioxidant capacity also helps delay the appearance of wrinkles and other premature signs of aging that can affect the skin.
-Alzheimer’s Disease: Brown rice is said to contain high levels of nutrients that stimulate the growth and activity of neurotransmitters, subsequently helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease to a considerable extent. Various species of wild rice have been shown to stimulate neuroprotective enzymes in the brain, which inhibit the effects of free radicals and other dangerous toxins that can cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
-Diuretic and Digestive Qualities: The husk part of rice is considered to be an effective medicine to treat dysentery, and some people say that a three month old rice plant’s husks are said to have diuretic properties. Chinese people believe that rice considerably increases appetite, cures stomach ailments and reduces all digestive problems. As a diuretic, rice husk can help you lose excess water weight, eliminate toxins from the body like uric acid, and even lose weight, since approximately 4% of urine is actually made up of body fat! The high fiber content also increases bowel movement regularity and protects against various types of cancer, as well as reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases.
-Rich in Vitamins: Rice is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like niacin, vitamin D, calcium, fiber, iron, thiamine and riboflavin. These vitamins provide the foundation for body metabolism, immune system health, and general functioning of the organ systems, since vitamins are commonly consumed in the most essential activities in the body.
-Cardiovascular Health: Rice bran oil is known to have antioxidant properties that promote cardiovascular strength by reducing cholesterol levels in the body. We have already spoken about the cardiovascular benefits of fiber, and low levels of fat and sodium. Wild rice and brown rice varieties are far better than white rice in this category, since the husk of the grain is where much of the nutrients are; the husk is removed in white rice preparation.
-Resistant starch: Rice abounds in resistant starch, which reaches the bowels in an undigested form. This type of starch stimulates the growth of useful bacteria that help with normal bowel movements. Also, this insoluble rice is very useful in reducing the effects of conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and diarrhea.
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