June’s mystery guest
WiseFins is hosting its mystery guest of the month. Something you probably all know about, but may not know about its environmental impact. Can you guess what this product is? Find out what is behind the text.
I am a cereal. Of Asian origin, I am grown in humid and sunny regions. Although I come in many colours and shapes, I am always a grain. I grow on grass plants terraced on hillsides, creating beautiful green landscapes. Growing me begins with planting seeds, harvested the previous year, in fields flooded with water. Afterwards, I am harvested and dried.
I was born in Asia. The oldest proof of humans growing me date back to about 5,000 years BC. These proofs were found in Asia and more particularly in central China in the province of Hunan before expanding into India, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand.
You cook me all over the world. I am a globetrotter’s food. Although I am a traditional Asian product, I have found my place in European cuisine through typical dishes such as paella in Spain or risotto in Italy. In restaurants or supermarkets, I take different forms such as brown, white, sticky, aromatic, Thai, steamed, thus allowing my presence in many recipes.
You praise my excellent nutritional values. I am a food recommended by most nutritionists, especially when I am brown. Moreover, I am known to be easy to digest and give plenty of energy. Rich in starch and carbohydrates, low in fat and gluten-free, this makes me excellent for your health. Indeed, I am often recommended in case of diabetes, gluten allergy, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.
I am consumed in large quantities throughout the world. I am the food base of about half of the Asian population. Each year, about 740,000,000 tons of me are cultivated. The main producers are China and India (with 50% of the world production) followed by Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Thailand. These six countries share 75% of the world’s production. I am produced in large volumes due to my large-scale consumption. Worldwide, my consumption stands at 65 kilos per capita per year, making me the second most consumed cereal after wheat. However, the French consumption is more occasional, about 4.5 kilos per year and per person, representing 240,000 tons nationwide. Despite this low consumption compared to other countries in the world, France is not self-sufficient and imports me from other European countries, Asia and the United States.
I have a disastrous environmental impact. I am known to have certain requirements for heat, humidity, light and especially water. Water plays a vital role in my production as it takes 13,850 litres of water to produce one kilogram of my grain. For comparison, this is equivalent to running your dishwasher over 300 times! However, that is not all; my crop also emits greenhouse gases, because I grow in stagnant water that releases a lot of methane. It is estimated that the production of one kilo of my grain emits 2.16 kilos of CO2. Being very popular, if we multiply this figure by the world consumption, my environmental impact is staggering. I account for 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, 1% more than air traffic emissions. This percentage keeps rising over the years, so much so that in about 20 years, my impact on global warming could reach that of 1,200 coal-fired power plants. Ultimately, it would be wiser to fly than to consume me!
Did you find out the identity of our mystery guest and above all, could you imagine that his ecological impact was so important? WiseFins looks forward to seeing you next month to discover the portrait of a new guest.
Written by Maeva Ortega