If you decided to read those articles, welcome back. If not, here’s a synopsis. Arsenic is a natural element. It can be found in our air, water and soil. That’s how it gets into the rice. It is poisonous when it is in an inorganic state, not in an organic state. Both forms are found in nature, but the organic form of arsenic passes through the body much more rapidly, meaning it has less chance to be absorbed.
Now, curiously enough, there is NO governmental standards that determine how much arsenic is ‘okay’, at least, not for our food. We do have standards for our water, which is 10 parts per billion. And since not all areas in the world have the same levels of arsenic, it goes without saying that the rice from different parts will have different levels, too. So, which rice is the safest to use?
According to this 2014 Consumer Reports article, “white basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan, and sushi rice from the U.S.” were the safest, while “all types of rice (except sushi and quick cooking)…from Arkansas, Louisiana, or Texas” were the worst. And the best and most safe rice was brown rice grown in California. (Remember when you used to joke about those crazy Californian’s and all their environmental laws? Maybe they were on to something…)
So, what are we supposed to do? Stop eating rice? Don’t worry. You can still have your sushi, jambalaya, and rice cakes, just do a bit of research first. Find out where the restaurant or manufacturing company is getting their rice, and only support those organizations which are using the safest rice possible. Do the same thing when you purchase rice for your meals at home, too. A little education and research can help ensure you are eating as healthy as possible. Next, it is possible to prepare rice in such a way that close to ninety-percent of the arsenic is removed. Here’s how.
First – rinse it thoroughly. You can use a colander (like the kind you use for draining pasta), but if the holes are too big, you’ll lose some of your rice down the sink. You can also use a Japanese rice washing bowl like this one here. These bowls have no holes in the bottom or sides, and a small draining spout near the top on one side only. Simply put your rice in the bowl, fill it with water, vigorously agitate the rice, then drain out the water and repeat. Do this at least 3-4 times.
Though this process removes a large amount of the arsenic, there may still be some residual chemical left. This can be removed by using more water than the recipe requires. Some health experts say to use double, and some say to use one-and-a-half times the water. Either way, cook the rice for the same amount of time, and then drain off the excess water.
What’s left will be a much healthier grain, though it will be a bit less ‘starchy’, meaning, it won’t stick together. Now, if you prefer ‘loose’ rice, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you are trying to make home-made sushi, you’ll be disappointed. The good news is, sushi rice has a lower amount of arsenic regardless of the region it’s from, so the rinsing method should be enough.
That’s all for now! I’ll see you all next week! Thanks for reading!