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Rice: Then And Now Essay

2288 words - 9 pages

Rice by today’s standards is not an exciting food, but it is in fact one of the most important natural resources that humans have ever depended upon. Different cultures of people for thousands of years, spanning from India to China to Japan have used rice as their staple crop. Today especially, rice continues to be a vital grain for modern day human beings. Through this early dependency, rice became domesticated, which arguably is one of the most impactful events on the development of human agriculture and civilization. Rice now is farmed in different ways, including traditional, conventional and organic. Rice has become common processed food in supermarkets and one can easily find different foods that contain rice or its byproducts; through the increase in processing foods, rice has been transformed into an economic giant. With this higher demand for rice, scientists began to manipulate rice to become a higher yielding crop per acre, leading to the creation multiple hybrids of rice. This increase in hybridization led to what is now referred to as the Green Revolution. While rice is an incredibly important food nutritionally and economically, it has important non-food uses; current research has shown the possibility to use rice’s byproducts as an alternate source of fuel. With the present-day threat of global warming, this is an extremely important advance in green technology.
Rice began to influence humans thousands of years ago, with its range of two hundred thousand different varieties, the most of any grain crop. While the first culture to develop rice has been difficult to determine, the use of rice can be dated back to the Neolithic era, from 7150-4500 B.C.E. (Katz 194). The areas where rice may have originated from continues to be a debated issue. Some researchers argue that rice originated from Northern China, then spread south; on the other hand, other scientists believe that rice came from South or South East Asia, ranging from China, India, Thailand and Indonesia (Katz 194). The successfulness of rice can be attributed to its amazing versatility as a plant, possessing the ability to grow in dry or wet places and even fields at extremely high altitudes. The exact origin may still be a discussed topic, but the effects of its dispersion to different areas of the world can be chronologically listed. The spread of rice is chronologically listed as the following: China to areas of the Philippines around 2000 B.C.E., China to Korea and later Japan at approximately 200 B.C.E. After these locations, rice began to be seen in other parts of the world, such as the Mediterranean, Europe and Africa; the theory behind the spread of rice is credited to Persian traders and China’s trade routes. South America became introduced to rice due to Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s, followed shortly by North America in the 1600s. Australia became the last continent to be exposed to rice during the 1900s (Katz 195).
Rice’s impact on humanity can be seen in a...

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