Think Japan loves it some rice? Well, you’d be right. Japan is definitely a rice consuming nation, and the little white grains are most certainly one of Japan’s staple foods. But would you believe the country doesn’t even break the top 10 nations when it comes to rice consumption?
This chart ranks countries by individual rice consumption per day and, as you can see, Japan is way down at the bottom at number 50. That’s well below a plethora of other Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, Thailand, China and Indonesia.
Reading the chart, one sees that an individual Japanese person consumes about 119 grams of rice per day, or around two and a half “onigiri” rice balls‘ worth (the common snack item conveniently happens to be portioned into one standard serving of rice). This seems to fit pretty perfectly into what you might consider a regular Japanese person’s daily diet: Two square meals with a bowl of rice and questionable convenience store bread, sometimes complete with room-temperature egg, tuna and mayo coated in an impenetrable layer of preservatives, for breakfast. If you think the majority of busy Japanese people are still prepping grilled fish, rice and miso for breakfast, by the way, you might want to check what decade it is.
Of course, this is a piddling amount when compared to Asia’s top rice dog, Bangladesh, where people are apparently just eating whole bags of rice for every meal, clocking an average of 473 grams of the stuff per person per day, or 10-and-a-half onigiri worth. That doesn’t seem to leave much room in the average person’s diet for anything else.
There is, of course, a perfectly reasonable explanation for all this, which may become clear when you notice that many of the higher-ranking countries are significantly poorer than Japan, and a strong economy tends to lead to more diverse diets. For those in some of the top-ranking countries, rice is an economical source of energy; but for a modern Japanese, consuming too much rice is a great way to grow out of your old college party jeans astonishingly quickly.
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