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Fast-food chains in PH asked to start offering brown rice

By: - Business Features Editor / @tinaarceodumlao
/ 03:18 AM October 18, 2013

Oxfam Philippines has called on the largest fast-food chains in the country to consider including brown rice on their menu to contribute to the nationwide campaign to increase consumption of the staple.

Oxfam country director Justin Morgan told the Inquirer in an interview on Wednesday that if Jollibee Foods Corp., McDonalds Philippines and other restaurants and eateries would give their customers the option to buy brown or unpolished rice, then demand would increase, which would allow production to hit commercial scale.

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“For me, brown rice is much better for our health and as citizens, we should want brown rice. But we understand that brown rice is not produced in an economical way. As leaders in the industry, Jollibee and McDonalds can give people better access to brown rice,” said Morgan.

Morgan said the fast-food chains could just offer brown rice as an option, even if it would be sold at a higher price compared to white rice. Demand will eventually increase, he said, as more Filipinos become more health-conscious.

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Oxfam and partner Dakila-Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, a non-government organization composed of artists, are pushing for the increased consumption of brown rice under the Brown Rice: The Good Food Campaign, not only because it is healthier than white rice due to its higher fiber content but also because increased consumption can help in efforts to increase rice self-sufficiency.

According to Oxfam Program Coordinator Marie Nunez, unpolished rice variants have a 10-percent higher milling recovery compared to white rice, giving more yield and consequently income to the farmers.

“The additional 10 percent in rice volume would translate to 1.58 million metric tons of additional rough rice. This is because brown rice demands only one milling compared to two or more milling processes needed to produce polished white rice. Reducing rice wastage will therefore help increase the country’s overall production volume, which could mean less rice importation and making the country more rice self-sufficient,” said Nunez in a statement.

Dakila vice president Noel Cabangon added: “With our current situation, consuming brown rice is ideal because it gives you nutrients that you need. If only brown rice becomes accessible to all by increasing the volume of its production and keeping its price competitive, then this will help address the problem of food security in the country.”

Based on data from the Department of Agriculture, if all Filipinos will eat brown rice for three meals in a month, or 36 meals a year, the country’s rice importation will shrink by an average of 500,000 metric tons a year, which is equivalent to savings of P812.81 million a year.

Oxfam and Dakila marked World Food Day on Oct. 16 with the launch of Brown Rice: The Good Food Planner that contains recipes prepared by celebrity and chef advocates advocating the increased use of brown rice.

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TAGS: Agriculture, brown rice, Diet, fast-food chains, Philippines, rice self-sufficiency
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