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Mondays with Mom

Mondays with Mom: White Rice, Brown Rice

Mondays with Mom is a column penned from the perspective of a member of the older generation. AsianSupper contributor umma, which in case you didn’t know means “Mom” in Korean. Umma immigrated to the US in the 1980s and currently lives in Washington. 

When I was growing up in Korea, I remember that white rice was considered the best, and it should be only served to the elderly because right after the Korean war, white rice was scarce. And for a long time it had been, unless you were a rich farm land owner. The only time that the white rice was served to the whole family was on the Jesa day (memorial day for the deceased), and special holidays like Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), and Sol (Lunar New Year).

Mom used to cook a big pot of barley or brown rice and just put one or two cups of white rice in the middle of the pot. And when the rice was done cooking, she will carefully take out the white rice portion and serve it to the grand parent – two big bowel of white rice among all the barley/brown rice. How we children wished we could have that white rice like the grandparents!  

Now the time has changed, and it seems everything white is bad for you – it’s stripped off of its nutrients, refined, and bleached with chemicals, and such. White rice supposedly is one of the "5 deadly whites": white rice, white flour, salt, sugar and "white" or refined oils. Both my husband and I are 1st generation immigrants living in America, and have been living here for more than 30 years. Our diet revolves around rice (brown or white), meat(or fish) and some side dishes. But my husband doesn’t like eating brown rice, and neither do I, but considering the health consequences, I try to cook brown rice, or at least half and half. It doesn’t taste as good as white rice, but you get used to it.

So, come to think of it, back then we had been serving the "deadly" white rice to our grandparents! No wonder they died at such young age! Well, it can’t just be because of the white rice that they didn’t live as long as people nowadays – because in the old days, white rice didn’t get covered by all these unnececssary coatings. We didn't have proper medical care at the time, nor really proper nutrition for everyday human life, either.

White rice, or brown rice, I think that if you eat a moderate amount and supplement it with other vegetables and meats (fish), it will be ok.

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