The Washington Post recently featured an article on the Japanese and their changing relationship with rice. It seems that if you are Japanese the days of eating rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner are fast becoming a distant memory, especially for the younger generation. Their national rice bowl is increasingly seen to be less full with trendy Western delicacies becoming the norm such as croissants, spaghetti, baguettes and French fries. The devastating effect on the Japanese rice industry of late has farmers and retailers racking their brains for new ways to entice people back to their beloved rice before it’s too late.
Keep an eye open for a new range of ‘Designer Rices’ that will no doubt eventually work their way into our already bursting gourmet product isles. In reality these designer rices are unmilled grains that when added in small amounts to a rice cooker turn traditional white rice pink or purple. An exciting concept for some people I guess, although I have to admit for me there is nothing nicer than a fluffy bowl of pristine white steamed rice, but I guess desperate measures are needed as per capita rice consumption in Japan has fallen to half of what it was in the late 1960’s. There are also new offerings for the health conscious in the form of sprouted rice, high-fiber mixtures such as oat rice and brown rice that have been steeped in water until sprouts emerge. Japanese bakers are also being invited to help boost rice consumption by baking tasty creations that are made from rice flour.
Of course the current trend for western style food has done more than just affect the rice industry in Japan. In 1988, 18.9 percent of Japanese children were considered obese, according to a survey. By 2005, the percentage had risen to 24.3. Unfortunately for the Japanese as rice becomes a thing of the past….. The Japanese waistlines go West!
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Welcome to THE MAIN INGREDIENT a place where Food News, Food Politics, Food Culture, Food Fashion & Food Humour meet. Each week you can preview topical foodie matter from my 'Gourmet Lifestyle' radio show called (wait for it) THE MAIN INGREDIENT. Food for the belly & the brain, I hope you'll enjoy the journey with me. Regards Kel