Zojirushi has been making rice cookers for nearly 40 years, so we like to consider ourselves experts in the field. Therefore, we test our products with the most modern technology to ensure that our appliances can make the best quality cooked rice every single time. For example, our new Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18 is equipped with a special umami setting that features technology that soaks and steams your rice for longer, which results in an enhanced rice flavor. This is in addition to our signature Fuzzy logic technology, which can cook a variety of different grains to perfection.
But, did you know that rice is the most important human food crop in the world, feeding more than half of the world’s population? In Japan, rice symbolizes blessing and joy and is a staple for every meal in every household. Not only are rice crops a staple in Asian countries, but the gluten-free grain is essential in cuisines from Africa to Latin America. Today, in honor of our love of rice, we will be exploring the history of rice, where rice comes from, and other ways that the rice plant contributes to human culture worldwide.
In simple terms, rice is an edible starchy cereal grain produced from a grass plant. Specifically, the grass species or rice plant that rice comes from is called Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice). There are many other rice species within these classifications, such as Japonica, Indica, Aromatic, and Glutinous. Overall, it is estimated that there are up to 40,000 different types of Oryza sativa all over the world.
Where Did Rice Originate From?
The oldest rice species is thought to have originated about 14 million years ago in what is now the Philippines. Over time, this species became cultivated by humans, and the rice plant evolved to produce rice grains that were more palatable to the human taste. Asian rice was first domesticated in China between 8,200 and 13,500 years ago and then spread to other parts of the world.
Where is Rice Grown?
Because rice is a resilient plant that can grow in various wet or dry climates and withstand extreme weather conditions, it can essentially be grown anywhere in the world (except for Antarctica). There are more than 144 million rice farms worldwide, ranging from Asia, West Africa, the Middle East, and South America. The Oryza sativa can be grown worldwide, while the Oryza glaberrima is grown in West Africa. In 2017, China produced the most paddy rice in the world, clocking in at 210.3 million metric tons. India had the largest harvest area of rice in the 2017-2018 season, coming in at 43.78 million hectares of farmland.
Global Rice Consumption
Rice is most widely consumed in Asia, providing up to 50% of the dietary caloric supply for millions in the region. However, we are seeing other countries in Latin America and Africa adopting rice as an increasingly important part of their diets as well. According to recent studies, rice consumption around the world is expected to grow steadily at 1.1% per year until 2025. Thanks to rice, we are able to fill hungry stomachs around the world and even use every part of the rice plant to build houses, make clothing, or even make rice-based beauty products. At Zojirushi, rice is a way of life, which we celebrate daily in our commitment to making the best rice cooking appliances.
Did you learn something new about rice today? What is your favorite type of rice, and how do you like to prepare it? Let us know if you have any more rice trivia by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!