A bowl of rice may seem to many North Americans like little more than a humble accompaniment to a healthy meal, but for more than half the globe, rice is a staple food. One billion people spend at least part of each day raising, harvesting, and processing rice, and their work has shaped the very fabric of their societies.

There are more than 8,000 varieties of rice. It can be black or pink or purple or striped as well as brown -- which, when processed, becomes white -- and that's just for starters. Sweet-tasting, nutty, even scented like a flower, its grains can be long and skinny or short and pearl-shaped. Some grains keep to themselves. Others, like those favored in Asia, stick together -- the easier to eat with chopsticks. Kids everywhere are partial to the plain, comforting flavor of rice, which, according to Nancy Baugh, a pediatric dietician at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University Medical Center in California, is gluten-free, low in fat, and rich in complex carbohydrates.

Mexican Rice Drinks

Puffed Rice Trail Mix

Chicken Soup with Rice

Banana Rice Pudding Treats


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