6th Grade - Social Studies

LESSON PROBLEM: Economics: What are some other uses for rice?


Rice is a highly beneficial ingredient in processed foods. While rice is different than most grains because it is generally eaten in its kernel form, its properties are ideal components in the manufacturing of cereals, snack foods, baby foods, frozen dinners, sauce thickeners and other products. Each part of the rice grain has many uses.


Rice flour is ground milled white or brown rice. It fills special needs for processors and consumers. The most frequent use for rice flours is in food processing. It is used in bakery foods, breakfast cereals, meat products, separating powder for refrigerated biscuits, breading and pancake and waffle mixes. It is also extruded to produce rice pasta, chips and other snacks.

A large use of rice flour is in non-allergenic baking. Rice, a non-allergenic food, is ideal for most allergy diets. When an allergy can be traced to wheat, it is most often the gluten, a structural protein in wheat, barley, rye and oats, that is causing the allergy. Rice flour contains no gluten and can be used in non-allegenic baking recipes. Rice flours can be purchased in specialty food stores, health food stores and some supermarkets.


Rice starch is the major component of milled rice. It is present only in the endosperm of the grain, making up 90-93 percent of the milled rice dry weight. Rice starch is used as a thickener in making sauces and desserts. Starch from waxy rice is also used in frozen foods because it withstands separation during freezing and thawing. The leakage of liquid from starch gel is called syneresis.


Rice oil is obtained from extracting oil from the bran of rice. This bran is a by-product of milled white rice. Studies show components in the rice bran oil are effective in reducing cholesterol in the blood.

The oil is very light colored and bland flavored. Rice oil is very stable and has a smoke point comparable to other high-quality cooking oils. Rice oils can be used in the same general ways as other vegetable cooking oils.

Rice oil can more often be found in Oriental food stores, health food stores and specialty markets.


There are many kinds of rice breakfast cereals on the market. Many variations of the manufacturing processes are applied to make more nutritious and attractive ready-to-eat breakfast cerels. Rice cereals that require cooking are made from granulated white milled rice. The ready-to-eat rice cereals may be made from the entire rice grain or its milled product, as well as shaped or pressed rice products.


Rice is also an important ingredient in commercially-produced baby foods. Rice is easy to digest and it is non-allergenic. Strained baby foods were first introduced to parents as "convenience foods" and convenience ranks high as a motivating force in baby food purchases. Modern commercial canning procedures result in a a higher retention of nutrients than many home cooking methods.

Rice in the form of rice flour or as granulated rice is used in the formulation of many meat and vegetable combinations. Rice flour, waxy rice flour, parboiled rice, rice polishings and rice oil are used in baby foods. The largest use of rice in the baby food industry is in the manufacture of precooked instant rice cereals, one of the first foods baby's eat.


Create a chart of rice by-products and the foods that they are in.

Find and read the ingredients listed in the many foods that you have in your cupboards at home. Find at least ten products that use rice by-products. If you have trouble finding these at home, go to your local grocery store and read the labels of different prepared foods until you complete your list. Your chart will list the by-product on one side and the product on the other side.


Using your chart in the activity section, determine the amount of rice by-products that are in each of the foods on your list. The exact amount may not be listed. Most labels list the ingredients sequentially. Those with the highest proportion are listed first, second and continuing on until all of the ingredients are listed. How can you show this on your chart? Explain the process you used in listing the amount of rice by-product in each of your foods.

  • syneresis
  • allergenic
  • extract
  • resistance
  • endosperm
  • gluten
  • consumer
  • granulated
  • cholesterol
  • extrude

Click here to play Rice Rampage!
American Rice:
More than 90% of the rice eaten in the United States is grown by U.S. farmers.
Click here to learn more about where Rice is grown in the United States.
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