|Grain of the Month: Volcano Rice|
By Chris Ellis, Staff Nutritionist
After checking out the rice medley in the Bulk department at the Co-op I am amazed by all the different varieties and colors of rice we offer. We carry just the tip of the iceberg in rice diversity at the BFC—after reading more about rice, I discovered there are over 7,000 varieties of this important grain, which come in a rainbow of shades. The BFC sells a variety of colors of rice: black, red, pink, brown, and white. I opened many of the bins to get a better look at the rice we carry and I found that each variety gives off a different aroma, making them very enticing to buy.
Rice has been around since approximately 5,000 B.C. It is the most widely consumed grain in the world and is one of the three leading agricultural products of the world. The other two are maize and cane sugar. Rice is the primary energy food source for many people in North and South America, Asia, and Africa. It is grown either aquatically on flooded fields or can be hill grown (this variety usually produces a lower yield). The average American eats an estimated 25 pounds of rice annually and this number has doubled in the last ten years with increased awareness about rice being an easily digestible and gluten-free food, as well as the increased popularity of cuisines from Asia where it is their main component of their diet.
One kind of rice that I had not had much exposure to before writing this article was volcano rice. With a blend of different colors including light and dark brown as well as red grains, it is a beautiful rice. Volcano rice grows in Southeast Asia and specifically in West Java Indonesia, where it is a mainstay of the diet of people living in this region. It is unusual in that it is grown on volcanic soil, as its name suggests. Because of these volcanic growing conditions, its mineral content is high in magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc, as well as containing many healthy antioxidants known to support the body. Colored rice strains, such as red rice, may support heart health. Additionally, volcano rice has a wonderful flavor—nutty with a slight essence of vanilla. Like all other rice, it is gluten and wheat free. It is grown by a family cooperative and they use a special process to increase their production and to protect the local rice biodiversity, which also saves water, seeds, and land. They use no pesticides—it is a truly organic grain. This particular group of rice farmers is one of the first cooperatives that exports their rice from Indonesia to the U.S that is both certified as organic and Fair Trade.
We know that arsenic in rice has been a hot topic over the past few years. Please know that the company that imports Volcano rice, Lotus Foods, has great integrity and that arsenic is not known to be a concern. We welcome you to visit their website to learn more at lotusfoods.com.
Volcano rice is cooked in a similar way as any other rice, with a 2-to-1 ratio of water to rice. Rinse rice well before cooking it. This rice comes out very fluffy and has a great flavor. This special volcano rice can jazz up any meal and make it more flavorful and nutritious too, so you can't go wrong by adding this new one to your menu repertoire!