It’s not hard to find news articles about whole grains. It seems that everyone is talking about them and we’re seeing whole grains pasted across headlines almost every day. However, something that I find very interesting from the standpoint of a rice miller; is that sales of brown rice are a mere fraction of sales of white rice.

By guest contributor Brendan O’Donnell

Find him hanging out at the Sun Valley Rice Company

It’s not hard to find news articles about whole grains. It seems that everyone is talking about them and we’re seeing whole grains pasted across headlines almost every day. However, something that I find very interesting from the standpoint of a rice miller; is that sales of brown rice are a mere fraction of sales of white rice. This tells me that while there is a lot of hype and talk about eating brown rice, most people choose the convenience and taste of white rice. While white rice is still a very healthy option, I believe that there are a few innovative whole grain brown rice products available now that could potentially bridge this gap between having to choose between health and taste.

For those people that simply can’t find the time to cook brown rice, many companies are offering pre-cooked rice available in microwave bowls, trays, or even as a frozen product. Some of them even include vegetables and seasoning to provide a ready-to-eat meal. They’re easy to find as most of them are a shelf stable product sold alongside the bags of uncooked rice. Personally, I think these are great option for healthy and quick lunch at work.

For people that struggle with both taste and convenience, it is becoming easier to find “lightly milled” products. For California varieties, these are sometimes called by the Japanese name “Haiga”. I find this product very interesting, because while the product is lightly milled to remove the very outer oily bran layer, the germ and most of the nutrition of the bran remains intact.

This offers a good compromise for people that really struggle with the taste of brown rice, but want to receive more nutrition than white rice. I commonly hear people raving about successfully feeding this lightly milled product to their kids.

There is one more product that has started creating a lot of buzz, but has only recently started hitting store shelves. This product is called Sprouted Brown Rice, sometimes called by its Japanese name “Hatsuga Genmai”. While most of us are unfamiliar with sprouted brown rice or what it even means, sprouting rice is actually a very simple idea. It is simply brown rice that is placed in a warm, humid environment and “tricked” into thinking that it’s time to grow into a plant. When the sprouting begins, the rice kernel actually increases its nutrition level to prepare for growth. This process results in a brown rice product that addresses nearly every concern people have about brown rice; from faster cooking time, a softer, nuttier flavor and texture, and even easier digestibility. The bonus is in the “extra” nutrition the sprouting brings.