Friday, September 26, 2014

I've just been handed precious rice grains!

Heirloom rice varieties 


There are times when the very thin line between my professional life and my personal life disappears. And most of the time, this line vanishes because of the rice I have to eat. If it's not obvious yet, I am a big rice eater! I have this habit of going to the supermarket to buy rice grains of different colours and I go to great lengths to try out rice varieties whose trade names I haven't heard of before (just like when I ended up with five kg of rice from remote parts of the Philippines after intending only to check out IFEX 2013) and buying two kg of rice (again!) at the World Food Expo 2014

And then there are days when rice varieties just get handed to me... for cooking and tasting, mind you, just like what happened today. I didn't receive just any regular white rice. I was given grains of three heirloom rice varieties grown in the Cordillera region. These are Ingudpul, Chorchor-os, and Ominio. Ominio, in particular, is not a run-of-the-mill heirloom rice; it is one of the rarest of them all, according to what I've been hearing and reading. I feel happy that I got enough grains to cook and to taste. The presence of these varieties in the market shows how vast the Filipino culinary culture is... no, we don't eat white rice only; we've got colored ones, too. 

If these varieties are not used and appreciated, they'd eventually go extinct. So the best way to make sure that these varieties survive the next few decades into the next generation (aside from the scientific approach, of course) is to eat them! And this is why I feel honoured and given a big responsibility. Eating these heirloom rice varieties (aside from for their health benefits) is my small contribution to the preservation of the richness of the Filipino culture.

And there's one more thing: A rice farmer once emotionally reminded an audience of scientists, "Do not waste the rice that you're eating."