Gobar Times
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Hot Hote Rice!

    Hot hot rice!   

Strange but true. Paddy fields emit methane, a greenhouse gas. Developed countries twisted this fact to show that developing countries’ emissions matched their’s, but they didn’t get away with it.

They all emit methane

  • Paddy cultivation
  • Domesticated

  • Biomass burning
  • Coal mining
  • Natural gas and
    oil production

  • Coal Mining

Green gas Rice fields emit methane, which reacts in the atmosphere to become carbon dioxide and water vapour. All three are greenhouse gases (GHGs). But it’s not as simple as that. Methane emissions come from a lot of sources. Finding the exact amount from rice fields is very tricky. In 1990, the Panel on Climate Change estimated methane production from paddy fields as 110 million tones (mt), this was revised to 60 mt in 1992 and 37 mt in 1994. But even that was contested by India.

Who's the real culprit? The World Resources Institute in 1990 tried to show that the annual GHG emissions of developing countries were the same as the West! The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) argued that it was important to differentiate between “survival emissions” like rice cultivation and cattle rearing, which employs poor farmers and feeds millions and “luxury emissions” like driving cars.

Sinking Logic: The WRI also failed to account for the Earth’s ecological sinks — its vegetation and oceans — properly. The WRI apportioned the sinks on the basis of a country’s share in global emissions. So the biggest polluters got the biggest share of the sinks! CSE allocated sinks according to population as every human being has an equal right to sinks in the world. The differences were startling.

See-saw figures: The WRI formula put the net emissions at 10.3% for India and China and also 10.3% for Brazil. The CSE figure for India and China crashed to 0.6% and zoomed to 18.2% for Brazil! America’s share went up from 17% to 27.4%.



This Indian innovation saved sailors from beri-beri

"Parboiled rice", which is more nutritious than any other form of rice and retains a better
shape after cooking, is India's gift to the world. Today, a fifth
of the world's rice is parboiled.
However, the Swiss
multinational Nestles has got the European
patent for parboiled rice, even though the
practice has been going on in India for centuries.


How it's made: To make parboiled rice, rice is first soaked in water after which the excess water is drained off. It is then steamed, dried and pounded to remove the husk. Thanks to this, the outer layer turns hard and does not break during milling. Its appearance becomes yellowish and glossy.

What it does: In technical terms, rough rice, becomes gelatinized by hydrothermal treatment, improving the cooking qualities and producing a shift of the vitamin's and nutritive substances
towards the inside, so that it retains a higher nutritional value.

A little bit of history: In 1882, when a Japanese ship returned after a nine-month voyage, 25 of its 276-member crew were dead. The rest were listless. They had eaten boiled rice three times a day but this was polished ice from a mill and had its nutritive outer layer removed. The same symptoms were also noticed in Malaysian and Javanese sailors.

The disease was called “beri-beri”, which means “extreme weakness” in Sinhalese. On being fed mill rice even hens fell ill, but recovered when given parboiled rice! In polishing and making rice glossy, vitamins were lost. Not so in parboiled rice.

Vitamins discovered: The “lost vitamin” was Vitamin B. Before this discovery, nobody knew about vitamins. Christiaan Eijkman was the first to research this and got the Nobel Prize in 1929.

And today: Thanks to the Nestles patent, once the World Trade Organisation comes fully into effect, indigenous parboiled rice could become a pirated product in export markets, and one day in India too!

    Dal + chawal = Complete khana   

Rice is a rich source of dietary energy and a lot of vitamins. Unmilled rice is high on dietary fibre. But rice alone cannot supply all of the nutrients necessary for adequate nutrition. Fish is a useful addition to the diet as it provides large amounts of essential amino acids (proteins) and micronutrients. For vegetarians, pulses, such as beans, groundnuts and lentils, are also nutritional complements to the rice-based diet and help to complete the amino acid profile.

Many traditional dishes throughout the world combine these ingredients to achieve better nutritional balance. So if you eat either dal aur chawal or rice and fish curry, you are eating a wholesome meal.


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Hot Hote Rice!