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Brown vs white rice 0809

Page history last edited by ecop 14 years, 4 months ago
Brown Rice vs. White Rice



By Grace Fern


Description and Rationale


Brown rice or pinawa in Tagalog, is a very common type of rice that has been available to Filipinos ever since the 1950’s. Brown rice is unpolished or unrefined whole grain rice that has a variety of color between brown, red, and purple. It is simply produced by removing the outer husk or shell of the grain using a pestle or rollers without removing the bran layer.  Brown rice is mostly commonly consumed by Filipinos who are health conscious or those who have lived overseas.  Most Filipinos prefer eating white rice because they associate brown rice as animal feed, but socially it is gaining acceptability in the upper classes. 

What impact does brown rice have on the Philippine society? Would brown rice make Filipinos’ diets healthier?  Does brown rice even taste good?  What makes brown rice less delectable compared to white rice? Is there any way to make brown rice taste more delicious? How much energy does the process of making brown rice save compared to the process of making white rice? How could I find a way to encourage more Filipinos to eat more brown rice? Are there social stigmas or superstitions that prevent Filipinos from using brown rice?

Is there any way I could make brown rice more appetizing for the Filipino community?  Every day, the average Filipino eats white rice, in addition to their meals, up to two to three times a day.  Half of the consumed calories per day come from white rice itself.  Not only is this an extremely unhealthy diet, but it is also more burdensome for the environment.  If more Filipinos chose to eat brown rice rather than white rice then it would decrease their chance of developing diabetes, beriberi or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as steatorrhoeic hepatosis.  These diseases are mainly caused by the consummation of too many toxins such as white rice and white bread and too little nutrients.  What makes white rice unhealthier than brown rice?  How could I communicate the benefits of brown rice to the underprivileged and undernourished families? Could I convince people who have low food budgets that brown rice is a better value with more nutrients for their money? Would Filipino’s actually choose to eat more brown rice if it was more appetizing? What ingredients would help make brown rice taste better and get people used to the different taste of brown rice?   

The initial purpose of this project will be to research and test ways that will make brown rice more appealing to Filipinos so that they will actually want to eat it. I will also give Filipinos in my community a chance to taste-test the brown and white rice and give feedback on their opinions of brown rice.  In addition to the taste testing, I will also share with them information on the dangers of white rice and educate them on why they should eat brown rice instead and how it would bring more nutritional benefit to their children and families.  These initial findings will help guide the experimental phase of the different recipes and ways to make brown rice more appetizing.

It is hoped that finding a way to make brown rice taste better and informing Filipinos of the nutritional benefits of brown rice over the dangers of white rice , thus encouraging them to choose to eat brown rice.




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Common Names and Synonyms



Rice, otherwise known as Oryza sativa, is one of the most important staple foods for a majority of the human population. In the Philippines, rice is called by different names depending on the form. For example, rice in the field is called palay, uncooked rice in the market is called bigas, and cooked rice at the table is called cainan. Rice is so important in the Philippines, the children are encouraged to eat even a single last grain on the plate, which is referred to as a mu mu.  A saying in the Philippines to emphasize the importance of rice, “each grain of rice one waster (mu mu) is equivalent to a drop sweat of a farmer”.  In some countries, rice has many different names depending on the color. Rice is also known in Southeast Asia as boniah, padi, beras, and nasi depending on the appearance of the rice.







Kingdom:  Plantae (plants)

Division:  Magnoliophtya (angiosperms)

Class:  Liliopsida (monocots)

Order:  Poales (flowering plant)

Family:  Poaceae (true grasses)

Genus:  Oryza (grasses)

Species:  O. sativa (wild rice)




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Morphology and Physical Description



The actual rice plant (tall grass “autogame”) contains nodes that each grow a leaf and a bud which then grows into a tiller.  When the seedling is self supporting it is called the tilling stage; usually when the seedlings have five leaves. The main stem has many tillers and may range from 0.6 to 6 meters (floating rice) in height. The tiller bears a panicle which measures between 20 and 30 centimeters wide. One rice plant has about 5-15 tillers and about 200 flowers on tiller. The grain develops at the end of a panicle in a cluster of spikelets or small green flowers. Each panicle has 50 to 300 flowers (floret or spikelet), which form the actual grains (rice). The fruit obtained is a caryopsis. Rice presents a great capacity for ramifying.


            As an apple is the fruit of an apple tree, the grain of rice is the “fruit” of the rice plant. The rice grain consist of the fruit or brown rice (caryopsis) and the hull, which surrounds the brown rice. Brown rice consists mainly of the embryo and endosperm. The surface is made up of several thin layers of differentiated tissues that enclose the embryo and endosperm. A single grain weighs about 10-45 mg at 0% moisture content. Grain length, width, and thickness vary depending on the difference in the type of rice. Hull weight averages about 20% of total grain weight.


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Getting Food


Rice is a tall crop that grows most efficiently in the tropics. It is a semi-aquatic plant that can grow in diverse environments bit is grown better and faster in warm and wet conditions. Cultivation of rice in the Philippines has not yet been officially approved for transgenic alteration (change of alterations). Research is los Banyos is developing on how to develop rice varieties with high protein content and other traits that would be virus and disease resistant.

In order to get the actual grain of rice (fruit), Rice is often grown in paddies and in some instances, a deepwater strain of rice (floating rice) is grown. In conditions from dry land to paddies, rice is required to take in a great amount of water to survive. Compared to other food crops, rice crops need the most water but it is not good when the water over floods the plant.

“As sea levels rise and world weather patterns worsen, flooding has become a major cause of rice crop loss. Scientists estimate 4 million tons of rice are lost every year because of flooding. That's enough rice to feed 30 million people. Rice is grown in flooded fields, usually to kill weeds. But rice plants do not like it when they are submerged in water for long periods, Ronald said. ‘They don't get enough carbon dioxide, they don't get enough light and their entire metabolic processes are thrown off. The rice plant tries to grow out of the flood, but when it does, it depletes its sugar reserves. It starts to break down its chlorophyll, important for photosynthesis. It grows really quickly, and then when the flood recedes, it just dies. It's out of gas.’”   (Ornstein)




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Germination of the rice seed occurs when the seeds absorb enough water in a temperature of 10 to 40 degrees centigrade. Each rice plant is made up of stems that grow a series of nodes. Rice can be divided in two stages called pre-flowering and flowering. During pre-flowering sexual organs are developed: pollen (male reproductive part), ovary (female reproductive part) and the embryo sac. A rice flower is ready for fertilization 1 day before it starts flowering. The flowering stage involves pollination, germination and fertilization. One rice plant can produce thousands of grains.

            The rice plant is an annual grass, pollinated by the wind, and is usually grow in flooded fields called paddies. In many Asian countries, small rice seedlings are hand planted in paddies. The paddies give nutrients to the rice plants and also help deter the growth of weeds. As the grain ripens the bright green plants change color to golden yellow. The paddies are drained and the rice is cut and harvested. Research shows that each rice plant has an average of 146.2 seeds per plant. (Berlin)




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Environmental Factors


Rice easily adapts to many different environments and thrives in high temperatures where no other cereal group can grow.  Because rice requires a lot of labor and water, it is well suited to countries with cheap labor and high rainfall. Compared to other food crops, rice requires a lot of water to grow, whether in a paddy or on dry land. It is still controversial in some countries where environmental groups claim production of rice depletes vital water sources.  Methane gas is produced and released during respiration of the rice plant and is responsible for most of the methane emissions.

            Rice is very susceptible to diseases and pests which can destroy 55% of crops each year. The worst disease is called rice blast which is a type of fungus. Insects (army worms, green leaf hopper, rice bug, stem borer, snails), weeds, rodents and birds also destroy rice before harvesting and during transportation and storage. Much research continues to be done to develop disease resistant varieties of rice.



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Origin and Distribution


In 2007, the annual worldwide rice consumption per person was 127 kg. It is the highest in Asia, where the average person consumes 80 kg a year. People in the United States eat less rice, about 10kg per person, but in the last 10 years because of health concerns, Americans have doubled their rice consumption. In Burma a person eats 500 pounds of rice, which on a daily basis is about one and one fourth pounds per day. The 2004 list of rice consumption by country is as follows:

Consumption of rice by country—2003/2004

(million metric ton)[33]

 China 135
 India 125
 Egypt 39
 Indonesia 37
 Bangladesh 26
 Brazil 24
 Vietnam 18
 Thailand 10
 Myanmar 10
 Philippines 9.7
 Japan 8.7
 Mexico 7.3
 South Korea 5.0
 United States 3.9
 Malaysia 2.7



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Importance to People



Rice is the primary staple for more than half the population in the world. World production of rice has risen from 200 million tons in 1960 to 600 million tons is 2004. The top producers of rice are China (26%), India (20%), and Indonesia (9%).  In 2006, the rice crop in the US was valued at $1.88 billion half of which is exported. The largest exporters of rice are Thailand (26%), Vietnam (15%), and the United States (11%). Even though China and India are the top two largest producers, they consumer most of the rice they grow. The Philippines used to be a large producer of rice but due to recent rice shortages, they have gone down scale on the top producers list.

“Food shortage usually happens when food supplies within an area do not provide the energy and nutrients needed by that area’s population. Food shortage is a problem created by production. If a certain country does not produce enough of a certain product, of course there will be shortage. In the Philippines, a lot of people are hoarding rice, hoping to get more income than usual. This is due to fact that food shortage can be predicted. Farmers here in the Philippines just get enough money for their daily survival. If you think carefully, you will realize that farmers here can’t produce much if the prices of raw materials and equipments needed to make rice have gone up. If they do, it will be like committing suicide. Why would someone make something although he knows that he cannot profit from it? Farmers sell rice at a very low price. Only wholesale and retail merchants will benefit in this. They can sell it twice or thrice the price. But it is like a chain reaction. If farmers don’t make rice, rice merchants will be out of business. You cannot easily say that if there’s no rice you will just eat corn. Corn is produced with raw materials, same with rice. If a producer cannot buy or maintain the equipments used in producing a certain product, there is big chance that he will not make that product anymore.” (Jo)

Because of the caloric value, rice is probably the world’s most important food crop. Rice is high in complex carbohydrates (needed for brain and body to function), has little fat, is both cholesterol and sodium free and is a good source of over 15 vitamins and minerals. Rice boosts the production of serotonin in the brain which helps elevate mood. Almost all the nutrients are stripped away in the production of white rice when the bran layer is removed during milling. That is why 99% of the rice grown in America is enriched with thiamine, niacin, iron and sometimes Vitamin D and calcium. Brown rice has 5 times more vitamin E and 3 times more magnesium than white rice. Brown rice has twice as much fiber as white. Brown rice is considered 100% whole grain and provides 2-3 of the recommended daily servings of whole grains. Rice contains all eight amino acids and makes a fair source of protein. It is also gluten free and easily digestible which makes it an excellent food for babies and people who have allergies and digestive diseases. A cup of white rice has 164 calories and a cup of brown rice has 178 calories.






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Survivability and Endangered Status



As mentioned preciously, rice can tolerate many environments and thrives in climates other grains cannot survive in. Rice faming is the largest single use of land for producing food. Due to the continued research and develop of newer varieties that are disease resistant, rice crops continued to produce more good grains per plant. Flooding often wipes out entire crops or rice, especially in low lying areas that are prone to cyclones and ricers that bleach their banks. Because thousand of varieties of rice are farmed, the worldwide production of rice remains resistant to blights and disease that could wipe out the entire species. High quality varieties continue to be produces as well as many specialty rice’s like Jasmine, Basmati, red and black Japonica which continue to keep a wide interest in rice development. Rice is not an endangered species because rice qualities are actively bred to enhance the ability to harvest rice. Although rice is not endangered, it is very common for there to be rice shortages. In the Philippines, there was an ongoing rice shortage that affected many Filipino’s lives and there have been many rice shortages in the previous years.

“The Philippines attained self-sufficiency in rice for a brief period during the Marcos administration. Since then it has been a sad history of recurring shortage. Many of our neighbors consider this situation strange because the Philippines has always been known as an agricultural, rice-producing country. Also, it has the best agricultural school in the region--the UP College of Agriculture at Los Baños--and in addition, is the base of the International Rice Research Institute. Students from Vietnam and Thailand studied the latest techniques in rice cultivation at Los Baños, returned to their countries and built up a thriving rice export industry. The Philippines is now one of their biggest customers.” (Inquirer)




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Potential Solutions


Would Filipino’s be healthier if they ate brown rice instead of white rice? Brown rice is one of the world’s healthiest foods, and yet many misinformed Filipinos consider brown rice as food for the poor or for animals. But science proves that brown rice is superior and healthier than white rice.  It takes a lot of energy and effort to convert brown rice to white rice. The milling and polishing doesn’t improve the rice but rather “destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.” The only problem is letting people know that it is better for you. There seem to be several promising possibilities that may be able to benefit to Filipino’s health by informing them about brown rice.  Below are 3 possibilities with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages for each. Along with each are pictures and surveys that show the results of my experiment and the action steps. 


Possibility 1 -




Making delicious new ways to eat brown rice is one thing, but actually getting Filipinos to eat it is a tough task. By setting up an experiment which gives Filipino’s the chance to taste test different recipes of brown rice and the difference between plain white rice, they might find they actually find to like the brown rice better than white rice. Randomly selected Filipinos will have the chance to taste test the difference between the white rice and brown rice and they will also decide which type of rice they prefer more by completing a survey form given to them.


1.    If Filipinos could actually discover that brown rice really is delectable with the right recipes, then maybe they could start eating it on a regular basis rather than white rice.

2.    More Filipinos would likely get drawn to the activity and want to learn more about brown rice if they could actually get involved in the experiment.

3.    By setting up the taste testing experiment, I will be able to find out what recipes Filipino’s like and dislike the most.

4.    Taste Testing will increase Filipinos awareness about brown rice and it will open their minds up to new ideas of eating it. It might also make them more aware of their own prejudices against brown rice and why they continue to use white rice.


1.    Brown rice does actually take longer to cook unless you soak it in water ahead of time. This would be a big problem with Filipinos because they usually cook what is easiest and fastest. Many Filipinos have such a limited budget that having to use more firewood, or consume more gas would prevent them from wanting to use brown rice.

2.    White rice has the ability to last longer than brown rice and can be stored longer and with less care than brown rice.  If brown rice sours more quickly and people do not have access to refrigeration, then they will not want to waste their money buying brown rice. 

3.    If the Filipinos don’t like the taste then the whole experiment would be ruined, and regardless of healthy benefits they will be less apt to even try it at home.





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Possibility 2 -



What Filipino could resist taking free rice and recipes? By giving the Filipinos a chance to cook brown rice with the different recipes given to them they will be able to find out how delicious it could actually be. For this part of the action step, I gave all the Filipinos that took the taste test and survey a sack of 2 cups of brown rice and 2 recipes to go with it.


1.    By giving Filipino’s a sack of brown rice and recipes to go with it, they will be able to cook for themselves and make the brown rice the way they like it.

2.    It will give those that did the taste test and survey a chance to make brown rice on their own so that they can try it out for themselves.

3.    By giving them recipes, they will actually be able to know how to cook the brown rice and to make it taste better.


1.    Some of the Filipinos that were given the sack of rice and recipes may not have the correct supplies needed to make the recipes which may cause some of them to not even bother in making the brown rice.

2.    Some Filipinos might not even care to eat the brown rice, which then they might throw it out or waste it.



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Possibility 3 -




There is no better way for getting Filipinos to stop eating white rice and eat brown rice than actually going out and informing them about it.  By making an information poster and by influencing them about the effectiveness of eating brown rice, Filipinos will be better informed about brown rice. 



1.    Filipinos will be able to learn how much better brown rice is for you than white rice. If they are aware of how unhealthy white rice is, than they will be more influenced to eat brown rice.

2.     It will increase their knowledge of knowing more about their health and what foods are better for you and what foods are bad for you.


1.    For the Filipinos that I informed, they may not have been able to understand all that I was saying because of my lack of knowledge of Tagalog (the Philippine dialect language).

2.    Many Filipinos may not even care about their health or about being informed about how brown rice is healthier than white rice.




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Encyclopedia Britannica. “Brown Rice”. © 2009 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/81732/brown-rice >


Asia Rice Foundation. “Brown Rice: beyond the color”. Brown Rice Campaign Committee, The Asia Rice Foundation Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines. <http://www.asiarice.org/sections/whatsnew/brbulletin.html>


Wikipedia-the free online Encyclopedia. “Rice”.   <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice >


Cambridge Encyclopedia. “rice - Cultivation, Preparation as food, World production and trade, Rice Pests, Cultivars”. © 2009 Net Industries. <http://encyclopedia.stateuniversity.com/pages/18553/rice.html>


Ikisan. “Rice”. ©Copyright ikisan.com 2000. <http://www.ikisan.com/links/ap_ricemorp.shtml>


Food Market Exchange. “Rice Environment”. © 2000-2003 Food Market Exchange. <http://www.foodmarketexchange.com/datacenter/product/grain/rice/detail/dc_pi_gr_rice0302_01.htm>


Ornstein, Peter. CNN.com. “Fighting Hunger with Flood-Tolerant Rice” <http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/01/29/waterproof.rice/index.html>


Berlin, Springer. Springer Link.“A new approach to chromosome doubling for haploid rice plants”. November 30, 2004



Jo .Anything Goes! “Food Shortages in the Philippines”. July 13, 2008             http://acidpixels.com/blog/philippines/food-shortage-in-the-philippines/



Inquirer.“A rice shortage?”. Philippine Daily Inquirer. © Copyright 2001-2009 INQUIRER.net.<http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/editorial/view/20080325-126227/A-rice-shortage>




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