Rice is used in many different cultures all around the world, acting as a staple in cuisine for many people. It, therefore, acts as a symbol of transnationalism, which is the extension past boundaries and individual interests, as it is used from dishes in South America to small villages in India. New York, a large mixing pot of different cultures is a great way to learn about the different ways rice is used, and how this differs from methods in countries with the growth of transnationalism. The following article will focus on exactly what role rice plays in both countries where rice is a staple in food and New York, both culturally and economically.
Firstly, Rice serves as more than a staple for people in food, as it a representation of family. This is because rice is made differently based on where you’re from, inherently different based on the spices and climate of the region. These flavors are then associated with the idea of home, making them special. Specifically, for me, my grandmother puts jaggery, a brown sugar made from the sap of palm trees, into the food, giving it a slightly sweet taste that I can’t get anywhere except home. Also eating with family, or even at someone’s house with home cooked food has a feeling of acceptance into that family, and the idea that through food, love is shown. In Japan, rice plays a large role in the occupation and location of the family, especially those the places where water from the ocean plays a part in the crop production, therefore showing how rice is central to life, and is not only thought of at meal times. Therefore, the cultural value of rice is not only that it is a staple that can last through all climates of these places but also that it holds a special meaning in taste depending on where you’re from, which makes it unique to the people from that region.
In New York, rice plays a different role culturally in the lives of the residents. Whether it be a person trying out food from new places or a person trying to seek a taste of home, rice does not hold the same value that it does in other countries. With the abundance of cuisines to try, rice is eaten in many different ways, but there is less likely to be a flavor or taste that holds on to the person. Or even for a person trying to find their ethnic food in this city will get a variations or attempts that doesn’t resemble the food back ‘home’. Therefore, it does not hold the same cultural significance, as it doesn’t serve as a connection to family, traditions or the culture. Thusly it is easy to commodify rice in New York, seen in any supermarket, grocery store and having the same accessibility and importance as a burger and fries. So while rice can still be an important part of a person’s life, it is different than rice being a central aspect to your life, showing the beginning of transnationalism but not the full implementation of it.
Furthermore, economically, rice plays a different role in countries like China, Japan and India as export of rice is a large part of the countries income. For example, in Japan, rice is the national food, and the price it is sold at determines the price of all other commodities. Therefore, not only is it used as a staple in food, the living conditions are dependent on the type of crop produced that season. If there is a change in climate, rice being a finicky crop, the standard of living could go down. However now with advancements in science and technology, there are ways to e protect crop and hence people’s lives. More crop can be sold, and more revenue can be brought in. In October 2016, the Philippines was the largest importer of Rice, while India and Thailand were the largest exporters. This shows economically rice plays a large role in the well-being of the nation, and how changes affect everyone from the farmers to the middle-class families. Understanding the role that rice plays in exporting countries versus in other countries shows the reason the global market is so important.
In the United States, New York specifically, where rice plays a different role, but is still important to people. Seven percent of rice for the United States is grown in the country itself in places like South Carolina and Georgia, while the rest is imported from the places mentioned above like China and India. While rice does not hold as much cultural importance, the consumption of it in New York plays a role in the overall imports and exports of the nation, as well as the revenue of the countries exporting the food. This is the perfect example of transnationalism as a global interdependency causes borders to be forgotten so that food can be transported across the world. This is seen as importing countries need food to be provided so that they can feed their masses and exporting countries need people to eat their food, so that they can continue to produce. Overall the economic situation shows how when it comes to food, there is a need to go past arbitrary lines for the well-being of everyone involved.
In Conclusion, rice plays an important role no matter where in the world it is eaten, both economically and culturally. Culturally by representing not only the food and flavors of a region but also the significance for food to be eaten with certain people. It represents family and community. While in New York, though it does not have the same feeling of community, the abundance of different types shows the transnationalism of rice as well as the people willing to explore other cultures. Economically, it shows the need for a global market for rice so that both exporting and importing countries can thrive. Overall, rice is the perfect symbol for leaving behind boundaries as it is eaten and serves a purpose all over the world.