If rice can be pounded in the villages after the old fashion the wages will fill the pockets of the rice pounding sisters and the rice-eating millions will get some sustenance from the unpolished rice instead of pure starch which the polished rice provides. Human greed, which takes no count of the health or the wealth of the people who come under its heels, is responsible for the hideous rice-mills one sees in all the rice-producing tracts. If public opinion was strong, it will make rice-mills an impossibility by simply insisting on unpolished rice and appealing to the owners of rice-mills to stop a traffic that undermines the health of a whole nation and robs the poor people of an honest means of livelihood.
But who will listen to the testimony of a mere layman on the question of
food values? I, therefore, give below an extract from The New
Knowledge of Nutrition by Mr. Collum and Simmonds which a medical
friend, to whom I had appealed for help, has sent with his approbation:
"Rice is the most
important cereal grain in the diet of more than half of the human race.
It is used especially in the wettest parts of the world. It has never
found much favour in the United States but is used in small amounts.
Among primitive peoples rice is eaten without polishing, in which form
it is known as red rice, but it is usually treated so as to lose a large
part of its germ. This loss results from the pounding of the kernels in
rude mortars. The bran layer, which is richer in mineral salts the
endosperm of the seed, is retained in this process.
"Rice which is used for export and for sale in the large cities at some distance from the place
of production is polished by abrasion. The abrasive action results in
wearing away the bran and germ. This mixture is known as rice polishing.
The germ of rice, like that of wheat or maize, consists of cellular
structures which are the seat of protoplasmic activity, and is a more
complete food than any other part of the kernel. It contains almost all
the fats found in the grain, and is more efficient in nourshing insects
as well as higher animals, than is the polished grain. Hamada (1923)
reports that rice embryo protein has a high nutritive value. Unpolished
rice loses its flavour owing to the fats becoming rancid when kept for
considerable periods in a warm climate. Polished rice can be handled
without commercial hazard.
"McCarrison (1923) concluded that vitamin A is present in paddy before it is milled. The
milling of raw paddy does not remove the whole, content of this
substance as it is not confined to the peripheral layers of the grain.
He states that it is destroyed in great measure by steam passing through
paddy when it is contained in the vats, as in parboiling.
"The practice of polishing rice had its origin in the desire to improve its keeping
quality, and the incidental whitening of the kernels has led to the
establishment of a demand for a white product. This and the artificially
established liking for white flour and white corn meal, is an
illustration of the failure of the instinct of man to serve as a safe
guide in the selection of food. The aesthetic sense is appealed to in
greatest measure in this case by the products of lowest biologic values.
"Attractiveness of rice to the eye is so important a factor commercially that the practice of
artificial whitening of the polished kernels has come into vogue. This
is accompanied by coating the kernels with talcum powder, the latter
adhering by means of a thin coating of Glucose. The milky appearance of
the water in which rice is washed is due to the talcum remaining in
suspension. Rice which has been polished, but not coated in this way, is
called brown rice as contrasted with the coated or white rice.
"Chart III shows that there are four dietary factors in which polished rice is of such poor
quality as to require improvements before it becomes a complete food.
Its proteins are of low value. It is too poor in all essential mineral
elements to meet the needs of a growing animal, and is nearly free from
vitamins A and B. The data in Chart III were obtained with the rats and
do not bring out the fact that rice is lacking in the vitamin C. This
substance is not essential in the diet of the rat.
"Kennedy (1924) found wild rice to contain a higher percentage of protein than most other
cereals, but it resembles the cereals in containing proteins of rather
low biological value. It also resembles other cereals in containing
inorganic material unsuitable for the promotion of growth. Its content
of vitamin A is low but it contains a sufficient amount to prevent
xerophthalmia. Wild rice has a greater food value than the cultivated
polished rice, because its proteins are of better quality. It contains
adequate amounts of vitamin B for growth."