Programs and Activities

Reintroduction of brown rice to Pinoys under way

By Rudy A. Fernandez
Manila Bulletin, December 7, 2003

Proponents of brown rice are optimistic that this nutrient-packed cereal can be brought back to the Filipino's dining table.

It has long been known that brown rice (BR) is nutritionally superior to white rice because the bran in a BR contains dietary fiber, B vitamins, minerals, and antoxidant agents.

From the health and nutrition angle, BR is said to prevent certain cancers and gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases.

But BR has remained unpopular for a number of reasons, as noted in the "Symposium on Business Opportunities of Brown Rice" held last Nov. 21 at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los BaƱos.

Some of the observations mentioned were its coarse texture, dirty look owing to its brown color, chewy or gritty quality when eaten and longer cooking. The symposium participants also mentioned that brown rice is susceptible to weevils and does not store long.

But researchers from IRRI, UPLB, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and National Food Authority (NFA) believed that the problems identified were manageable.

For instance, the matter of texture and dirty look, cooking and eating property will diminish over time when the consumers get accustomed to the taste.

It was recommended that household should start feeding children brown rice at very young age. Blending or mixing brown rice and polished (white) rice might be a good way to gradually introduce the new product.