First off, I would like to thank you all for your feedback on my poop. I love having readers who are happy to talk with me about toilet troubles—thank you, helpful friends and the anonymity of the internet!
In this post, I’d like to talk about a potential solution—and why it doesn’t seem to be an easily available option over here.
The brown stuff. Brown rice, that is.
See, it really boggles my mind that brown rice—rice, in its natural packaging, unmilled, and unpolished—is the hardest to find. That its processed partner, sans bran and germ is known as normal rice. Just as the peel of an apple or a sweet potato is the most nutrient-dense piece of the produce, as an egg is most nutritionally complete when both egg and white are consumed, so rice is substantially more nutritious when served whole. Holistic health, holistic nutrition, whole grain of rice. Makes sense.
Brown rice is nutty and chewy where I find white rice bland and mushy. Plus I like all the unique little grains, I appreciate some good individualism and value one-of-a-kind things…. But maybe that’s just the Westerner in me talking.
To process brown rice, just the outermost layer, the hull, is removed. White rice on the other hand, is stripped of its bran (ouch!), germ (yipe!), and then polished (owie!) to create the clean, smooth grains we’ve become accustomed to. This process removes the EFAs, the selenium, the iron, manganese, magnesium, the B vitamins, and most importantly (to me, at least), the fiber. That glorious fiber that helps flush things out of the body, and ensures you stay satiated ’till dinner.
The U.S., of course, has its own solution to make rice more nutritious—by law, all white rice sold in America must be fortified with iron, B1, and B3. Just like good ol’ fortified Wonder Bread, which clearly has worked wonders for the state of American health. (I also recall some campaign from years ago suggesting we could solve all of Asia’s malnutrition and hunger by simply fortifying their white rice.) Good grief—for the record, nutrients chemically added back into foods are not absorbed by your body in the same way that nutrients from an unprocessed grain of brown rice would be. But that’s a whole other post.
In terms of culture and practicality, white rice does have its arguments. At its introduction, white rice was literally a cleaner, more polished food reserved for the wealthy, a status symbol and perhaps it has stayed as such (at one month, I don’t think I know enough about South Korea nor asia enough to pick up on the cultural nuances, especially knowing just six Korean phrases). And judging by the ubiquity of skin bleaching creams and sun hats in this country, white is in. White rice is also much easier for storage and transportation—brown rice will turn rancid after six months as the essential fatty acids (EFAs) in its aleurone layer (the layer that is literally polished off in white rice) oxidize quickly. It is easier to chew and digest, but I think we could all benefit from a reason to chew more, and if you soak brown rice ahead of time (like I’ve done, above), it’s just as easy to digest and far more nutritionally available. Soak your grains, nuts, and seeds, people!
I bought myself a package of organic(!) brown rice for some home cooking (more on that trip later), but so far I’ve found just one restaurant that stocks it regularly. Even the chain that touts itself as a “well-being balance food” haunt, and is heavy on the raw veggies (hurrah!), shook their head at my poorly-pronounced request for “hyeonmi.” Sigh. Korea, the hunt shall continue…
Any other SK-ers know restaurants or take-out places that stock brown rice? Or buckwheat noodles? The only place I’ve found so far is the fast-food restaurant that we at Wonderland know as “the Orange place” by the Lotteria in Chilgok. That, or any other suggestions or thoughts on the whole brown rice debacle are welcome and appreciated!