Rice is still damn expensive. Is there a rice shortage? Daily Show coverage

Why does rice cost so muchI got a call today from a friend that let me know that there were rice rations in the US starting up. I checked around and so far it looks like Sam’s Warehouse and other warehouse clubs are starting to limit the number of bags that can be purchased at one time. Sam’s is currently setting a limit of 4 bags per customer. While there is a rice shortage worldwide, the US isn’t feeling it as bad. According to some sources, most of the price crunch is from restaurants hording food in anticipation of higher prices.

This is such a big deal that even the Daily Show picked up on the story. Right before the Colin Firth penis photo story, Aasif and Rob compared the rice shortage between Africa and the local Costco. While it was a satire on American leisure, it was interesting that they picked up this story. It seems that The Colbert Report is also going to run a segment about the food shortage! I’ll update this article with what they had to say.

Update: The Colbert Report covered the rice ration on today’s show. Stephen joked about not being able to make his kiddy pool paella and set out “The Rice Stuff” interns to hit all the warehouse stores to get him rice.

So, it real world terms, what does this mean? Well, I went out to see what the rice situation was locally. I first went to Costco and they were completely sold out of bulk long grain white rice. I went to a local Asian market, Saigon Taipei Marketplace to see how they were affected. They were completely stocked and they even had some rice on sale for 17.99 for a 25 lb bag! Still more than it was a couple months ago, but better than the 20 bucks I paid earlier this month.

So there you go. A global, national and local look on the rice shortage. Happy eating and good luck!

Continuing coverage from our last rice post:


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Freerice.com – really free rice or scam?

Why does rice cost so muchThere’s new site up called Freerice.com that claims to donate rice based on your interaction with the website. Of course, anything free always brings up suspicion so I dug a little deeper. Pleasantly, I found that this site is legit as far as I can tell. They’re aim is to fight world hunger and illiteracy! Here’s the scoop:

  1. You go to freerice.com
  2. You answer some vocabulary questions
  3. They donate free rice to the UN World Food Program.
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Why is rice so damn expensive?

Why does rice cost so muchFor those of you that don’t know, I’m Cambodian-American. I was born in Houston, but that doesn’t change the fact that I, like 3 billion other people on Earth, live on rice. Specifically, Thai Jasmine Long Grain rice. I have some with almost every meal and if I don’t, I’m often not satisfied until I do. So you’ll imagine my surprise to hear that the price of rice has almost -DOUBLED- in the last week or so. Instead of the ~$12.99 per 25 pound bag I’m used to paying, in some places it’s now $22.99! And that’s if you can even find some! Seriously, the Hong Kong Supermarket in Arlington only had one brand last weekend instead of their normal 5-6 brands. And that stuff looked like it was going fast. Ok, I can handle eggs and milk doubling in price. Or gas becoming a luxury that only kings can afford. But NOT my rice! Please?

So, why the sudden increase in price? Well, if you’re reading this… it might be your fault! Yes, there has been some speculation that demand is going to be more that supply. And the cost of food and gas are up in general. But a major factor in this price increase is public hoarding. Prices started going up and people freaked. Everybody and their moms (including my mom actually) started stockpiling rice like no tomorrow. Here’s an excerpt from a news article:

“There is enough rice supply for domestic consumption”, Mingkwan told reporters late yesterday in Nonthaburi province, near Bangkok. “The current shortage has been caused by some hoarding and panic buying on concern the price will rise further.” There is no need to reduce exports, he said.

Rice, the staple food for about 3 billion people, has nearly doubled in the past year on increased imports by the Philippines, the biggest buyer, and as China, India and Vietnam cut exports. Record food and fuel prices have stoked inflation, contributing to strikes in Argentina, riots in Ivory Coast and a crackdown on illicit exports in Pakistan.

So why is rice so damn expensive? Because the world hates you.


Bloomburg Asia


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Quinoa- the super grain. Basic steamed preparation and first impressions.

Steamed Quinoa recipeI finally got around to picking some quinoa up from Whole Foods. You can get it bulk there for $2.49/lb. or buy it prepackaged for $1.69 for a pound bag. Both are organic, so I went for prepack. I’ve been hearing alot of buzz about this stuff. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is this ancient super grain that is unusually complete in protein(has all 8 amino acids). Sounds good for you vegetarians out there. I’m no nutrition anthro…. encyclopedia, so here’s what wikipedia has to say about the nutritional qualities:

Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and followed in third place by maize. In contemporary times this crop has come to be highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete food. This means it takes less quinoa protein to meet one’s needs than wheat protein. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered as a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.

Well if it’s good enough for the astronaut’s, it’s good enough for me. I love freeze dried ice cream! The real question is whether or not it can replace my white rice I live off of. In fact, you’re supposed to cook with this stuff just like rice.

Preparing steamed quinoa:

  1. Wash the quinoa in cold water. Same thing you do with rice- it gets off any coatings, etc. I’d suggest running water through it with a very small strainer. These things like to float, so be careful not to accidentally pour them down the sink. Maybe try to spritz a little water in there to get them a little wet before you turn the faucet onto it.
  2. Throw it in your rice pot. 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water.
  3. Hit the “cook” button.

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