Does Global Warming Make Rice Taste Better?
AnonymousNovember 26, 2021 at 2:20 AM::
Steamed, scorched, pounded or fried, rice always delivers.
The adaptability of rice is in part what makes this staple the culinary cornerstone for half of humanity. Whether enjoyed with a beefy cut of steak, a rich curry, or just plain, it’s hard to imagine what else could improve on this steamy goodness.
But for former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, the answer apparently lies with global warming. At a campaign rally last month, Aso claimed that rice on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, was tastier not because of the efforts of farmers, but due to climate change.
“It’s because it’s gotten warmer. When we talk about global warming, only negative things are written, but there are some good things,” the 81-year-old politician said in a speech on the island famous for its agricultural products and seafood.
His remarks provoked a backlash from the prefecture’s farmer union, which criticized Aso, now deputy prime minister, for diminishing the value of workers’ efforts.
But there is a grain of truth to the claim that climate change impacts how our food tastes, sometimes favorably.
According to a paper published in April in the journal Science of The Total Environment, increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere do improve rice taste. After growing rice under enhanced levels of CO2, researchers from Jiangsu, China detected an increase in the volume of starch granules, where starch is stored in the grain. Given that starch makes rice sticky—a prized quality of Japanese rice—the paper’s researchers