Every week we feature a fun and/or educational activity you can try at home or in the classroom.
Rice Feeds the World
As one of the most widely consumed staple foods for many parts of the world, rice is incredibly important. The many varieties of this plant are grown all over the world and are vital to the food security of more than half of the world's population. China and India account for nearly half the world's rice production, according to a 2003 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Farmers in developing countries grow 95 percent of the world's rice, and most rice is produced by smallholder farmers who own less than two and a half acres of land.
Water Buffaloes Help
Rice feeds the world, and water buffaloes help. These domesticated giants play a key role in families' agricultural success. With the help of water buffaloes, farmers can plant up to five times more crops than they could by hand. These greater yields translate into more food, more income and more security.
In addition to working as draft animals, water buffaloes produce manure. A lot of it. The six tons a year that an adult water buffalo can create fertilize farm land. For families with a biogas stove, the methane gas can run stoves and eliminate the need for wood-burning stoves, which can lead to deforestation and smoke inhalation that can induce respiratory aliments.
If water buffaloes didn't already help out farmers enough, the nutrient-rich milk they provide can improve children's nutrition.
Rice can be used for a number of things around the house. In addition to the obvious use, as food, you can use it to a rice heating pad. The rice version is cord-free, low cost and reusable. You can heat these pads up in the microwave or alternatively cool them off in the freezer and apply them to soothe your aches.
Materials to make a rice heating pad:
- A tube sock or baby pillow
- Needle and thread
- Dried lavender sprigs
- Funnel (optional)
Determine what will form your pad. You can use a tube sock, baby pillow or sew your own pattern. There should be one open side to your pad. Pour the uncooked rice into the pad. Drop in a few sprigs of dried lavender if you wish. This addition will release a relaxing smell when heated, adding a little aromatherapy to the mix.
Make sure not to fill the pad to the brim. You want to leave some space in the bag for the rice to move around so the pad can comfortably contour around your body. Next, sew the open end shut. Make sure you create a strong seam. You want to make it sturdy enough that rice won't be able to slip through.
When you use it as a heating pad, don't leave it in the microwave for longer than three minutes, and stay in the room. You don't want it to overheat and start to smoke.