A rice by any other name


By Sue Curtis



Last year, I began to notice that folks in the food (grocery) industry have started to go mad. At first, I passed it off as an odd occurrence, and not likely repeated. Now, I’m not so sure.

It started when I heard about the rice people — you know, the people who grow and produce rice, getting upset with the cauliflower people. I don’t have names, mind you, so I’ll just assume that rice folks are rice farmers and cauliflower people are, well, cauliflower.

At any rate, the rice people got their boxes in a twist because cauliflower was advertising that it was “rice” so that we consumers would use them to make pizza crusts and the like. I’ve done that, and believe me, cauliflower in rice form in a pizza crust tastes exactly as good as rice in rice form in a pizza crust. Neither of them are really pizza crusts (just my opinion).

But I digress. Apparently, rice became offended because cauliflower “rice” has no grain in it, and therefore is not actually rice. The rice representatives wanted cauliflower to cease and desist calling itself rice, even if it had been diced up to exactly resemble rice.

For my part, I like both rice and cauliflower — in their proper places (not in pizza) — so I didn’t really pay attention to how that controversy was resolved. Or if it was, in fact, resolved.

I figured it was just an aberration until last week. That’s when I heard the report from dairy farmers in some western state that were upset with the number of products calling themselves “milk.” For example, on the shelves of local stores, you can find almond milk, soy milk, rice milk and even cashew milk. The dairy farmers very accurately pointed out that none of these products are entities that can be milked.

The news item I was reading went on to say that other names had been suggested for those products by the dairy folks. Names like “plant juice.” Now, I enjoy my almond milk in a smoothie just as much as the next person, but if it’s called “plant juice” or “nut juice,” I’m unlikely to think that’s going to taste good. In fact, I might as well just add some kale and spinach to the smoothie and call it a day.

These controversies could very well go on and on. I mean, what if the turtles start to become irritated with the mock turtle soup makers? Everyone knows that there aren’t really turtles in that soup, though I can honestly say it makes total sense to call it that. No one would go near it if they knew what the turtles were mocking. Ice cream sellers better watch out, too, because they aren’t putting turtles in turtle sundaes, either.

As far as marketing goes, though, it might be good to be less territorial about what we call our food. Anything that gets us to eat a vegetable is probably a good thing.

Email me at suecurtis9@gmail.com.

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By Sue Curtis

Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.

Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.