Whether brown or white, fried or steamed, if a dish contains rice, it is made up of oryza sativa. This is simply the Latin phrase for the plant species most people know as rice. A staple food around the world, oryza sativa can be prepared in as many ways as a chef can dream up.
Also known as Asian rice or English rice, oryza sativa is one of the most widely-consumed foods around the globe. In developed nations, rice consumption can be as high as nearly nine pounds (eight kilograms) per person annually. Two subspecies of rice are grown: nutty, long-grain, or indica rice, and sticky, short-grained, or sinica rice. Servings of rice fulfill dietary starch or carbohydrate needs.
Rice-based foods can be made for any meal of the day. Breakfast dishes such as pastries, rice cakes, and cereals often feature the food. Soups, vegetarian patties, croquettes, sandwiches, soufflés, and dozens of other dishes can be enjoyed with rice for lunch or dinner. Snack cakes, puddings, custards, and other rice-based treats may also be created from the grain.
Many people enjoy oryza sativa as a side dish. A popular way to serve it includes layering white, brown, or fried rice beneath a mound of seasoned vegetables, meats, and sauces. In addition to these colors, the food may be black, red, or purple. It can also be stir-fried or otherwise incorporated into a full meal. In Asia, many families consume rice on a daily basis.
A filling, nutritious food, rice is often provided as a food source in areas afflicted with war, natural disaster, or poverty. Specific types of rice have been genetically treated to provide additional nutrients to people affected with malnutrition. People with small food budgets also often rely on the inexpensive grain.
Oryza sativa is not limited to being used as a food source for humans. It is also often used in the beer production process. Straw, wine, fertilizer, livestock feed, and fuel can all be made from the plant as well. In traditional folk medicine, oryza sativa seeds have been used to treat dozens of ailments, including cancer, swelling, diarrhea, nausea, warts, jaundice, burns, fevers, psoriasis, sores, and many other ailments.
In cereal biology projects, oryza sativa is often used due to the plant's easy changeability. It has the smallest of all cereal genomes, making it simple to modify genetically. It is also very cheap and readily available, making it a low-cost experiment base.