Healthy Alternatives to Rice: A Brief History
The history of rice is long and varied. It was cultivated in India from at least 5000 BC until the time of Alexander the Great (323BC). During this period it played a major role in maintaining human health. It provided energy, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed for survival. However, during the last few centuries there have been many changes to rice cultivation in Asia.
These changes include the introduction of new varieties such as pearl millet, sweet potato and kamut. Other changes are related to climate change. For example, in India the monsoon season has become shorter and drier. Soil moisture levels have decreased resulting in less nutrients being available to plants. The combination of these factors makes rice cultivation more difficult than ever before.
In addition to climate change, another factor affecting rice production is the use of chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizer applications affect soil structure and nutrient availability. They can cause problems with pests, diseases and weeds. Another problem associated with using chemicals is their potential negative impact on human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that pesticides used in agriculture may cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive disorders.
It is important to know that in the whole Asian continent people are becoming more aware of the value of healthy eating. In response, farmers are growing organic crops. This has been made easier by the recent development of organic rice varieties.
There are some encouraging signs with regard to changes in other agricultural practices as well. For example, in India a large area of land is dedicated to growing rice. However, increased awareness of the hazards of pesticides has encouraged many farmers to return to traditional organic methods of cultivation. This is primarily being driven by consumers who are demanding healthy food free from chemical additives.
Another major factor affecting the future of rice is climate change. While there are some areas where the impact of climate change will be beneficial, in many places it will lead to a reduction in yields.
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