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Rice is a grain belonging to the grass family. The plant, which needs both warmth and moisture to grow, measures 2-6 feet tall and has long, flat, pointy leaves and stalk-bearing flowers which produce the grain known as rice. Rice is consumed by nearly one-half the entire world population and many countries, like Asia, are completely dependent on rice as a staple food.

Rice is one of the few foods in the world which is entirely non-allergenic and gluten-free. Rice is grown and harvested on every continent except Antarctica, where conditions make its growth impossible. The majority of all rice produced comes from India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Bangladesh. Asian farmers still account for 92-percent of the world's total rice production. More than 550 million tons of rice is produced annually around the globe. In the United States, farmers have been successfully harvesting rice for more than 300 years.

White rice is by far the most common rice. It is consumed in all countries of the world. White rice is dehulled, has all bran and germ layers removed, and is often enriched because this processing removes most of its nutrition.

Because the outer coating of brown rice contains added minerals and protein, brown rice is considered to hold greater food value than white rice. Brown rice does not get milled, thereby keeping its darker color. Like white rice, brown rice has its husks removed during the cultivation process. Brown rice contains 8-percent protein and is a good source of thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, iron and calcium.

Rice remains a staple food for the majority of the world's population. More than two-thirds of the world rely on the nutritional benefits of rice. Rice is naturally fat, cholesterol and sodium free. It is a complex carbohydrate containing only 103 calories per one-half-cup serving.

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