Special Report on the Economy

Once you go brown

While health conscious people go for cartons of fibrous cereals and bran oatmeals, little did we know that the health benefits we get from these expensive retails also come from rice, which most Filipinos eat every day. But brown rice is not only the healthier choice because of its nutrients asit also helps in making the Philippines a rice self-sufficient county.

Filipino folk singer and composer Noel Cabangon is a brown rice advocate and the vice president of Dakila.
Brown rice is not a rice variety. Red rice or the traditional black rice can be sold as "brown rice" for as long as they are unpolished and the bran is still intact.

The bran and germ on the surface of brown rice are rich in B vitamins that help prevent beri-beri. Brown rice is also high in phytic acid, a potent antioxidant which helps fight cancer. Other than helping maintain systematic bodily functions, it aids in controlling cholesterol levels since it contains a considerable amount of unsaturated fatty acids.

White rice undergoes two or more major mechanical post-harvest milling processes which technically is scaling off the bran layer and the germ where most of the nutrients reside. To produce white polished rice, substantial nutrients are lost such as vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, phosporus, Iron and all the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.

Brown rice is not just for individuals on a diet or those who have problems with their digestive system. The high protein (lysine) content in brown rice is also good for children's growth. Mothers who breastfeed can also get their dose of vitamin B (thiamine) from brown rice, which is important for milk production. With the bulk of Pinoy daily diet depending on rice, the consumption of brown rice can help prevent obesity and ensure that every member of the family is provided with more nutrients.

"With the increasing number of people hitting the poverty line and getting hungry everyday, consuming brown rice is ideal because it gives you enough nutrients that you need," says brown rice advocate and Dakila vice president Noel Cabangon.

The shortened milling process of brown rice lessens energy consumption. According to estimates, about 50-60 percent of fuel is saved in the production of brown rice. It also lessens waste. In fact, the milling recovery of brown rice is known to be 10 percent higher than white rice.

Different brown rice recipes which include Aia De Leon's
Thank You, Amen! Brown Fried Rice Special, Bayang Barrios' 'Fried Brown Rice Ala Bayang Style with Pinaupong Manok' and Tuesday Vargas' Garlic Lime Chicken with Mango Salsa and Brown Rice.
Land and water systems will also be spared from harmful effects because the production of brown rice uses organic farming methods which help minimize the use of pesticides and insecticides.

By eating brown rice, we are helping our farmers produce healthier and safer food by reducing the need for farmers to produce more rice for the market. This will provide them opportunities to adopt more sustainable farm practices such as farm diversification and reduction of pesticides, and further gives long-term health benefits to rice farmers and their families.

Going brown is tantamount to reducing rice waste, thereby bringing down the country's overall rice consumption. With less waste during milling and with the country buying from its own farmers, the need for importing rice can be reduced. This spurs local rice production, increases the country's agricultural capacity and shields the country from global food crises and price shocks.

Under Oxfam's GROW campaign and in partnership with Dakila, the Brown Rice Campaign aims to bring brown rice back to the regular diet of Filipinos. This aims to popularize Brown Rice to the level that restaurants and establishments will offer dishes using brown rice as an alternative for consumers. Together with its celebrity advocates, the campaign has traveled around the country to encourage people to make the positive shift and consume brown rice.

To learn more about Brown Rice, visit http://facebook.com/GrowBrownRice.


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