Rice is an annual seed plant that can grow almost anywhere including mountains and steep hills. Rice grows on all continents except Antarctica and has more than 40,000 varieties worldwide.
Rice is the third-highest agricultural commodity produced worldwide. It is a cereal grain and a staple food in Asia. Asian farmers from countries such as China, India and Indonesia make up 87 percent of total rice production. Rice accounts for more than one-fifth of the calories consumed by people globally. There are several different types of rice including basmati rice, long grain white rice, arborio rice, whole grain brown rice and jasmine rice.
Rice needs lots of water to grow properly and is harvested by flooding. Rice products contain trace amounts of arsenic, so China has set a limit of 150 parts per billion for the amount of arsenic allowed.
In China, young girls are told to eat all of their rice because each grain they do not consume becomes a pockmark on the face of their future husbands. It is common in Thailand to call the family to dinner by saying, "Eat rice." In the west, people throw rice over the heads of married couples on their wedding day to symbolize happiness and fertility.