Rice bran is also traditionally used as a lactofermentation medium.
Okay, according to Reay Tannahill in "Food in History
" rice was not polished for the masses until the late 1800s, at which point:
|People who lived on a diet based largely on the new polished rice began to contract beri-beri, a deficiency disease... So concerned did the Dutch become over the death rate in their colonies in the East Indies that in 1886 they sent out a medical team to investigate.|
That research team and subsequent investigations actually led to the discovery of vitamins.
Following this is a discussion of how, prior to military conscription in 1917 in Britain, 41% of eligible men theoretically in their physical prime were found to be in such poor health that they were unfit for service. The cause was found to be malnourishment, although none were lacking in food bulk. (This is a fascinating book, btw. I highly recommend it - I think everyone on the TF forum would really like it. )
From The Cambridge World History of Food
|Although rice has a relativley low protein content... brown rice (caryopsis) ranks higher than wheat in available carbohydrates, digestible energy (kilojoules per 100 grams) and net proetein utilization. Rice protein is superior in lysine content to wheat, corn, and sorghum...|
The article, which is lengthy and frankly not exactly exciting, goes on to place rice use starting as early as 6570 BC with cultivation starting sometime around 2500 BC in India and China. However, the author of this article states that:
|Rice consumers, however, generally prefer to eat milled rice...the pestle and mortar were doubtless the earliest implements used to mill rice grains.|
He also mentions that parboiling the rough rice before milling it, which allows vitamins and minerals to spread into the endosperm. This is apparently a popular method of staving off beri-beri among low-income people in many south Asian countries.
So, nothing super-conclusive there. If I had to bet, I'd say that rice generally is a traditional food, and that traditionally it was probably eaten either parboiled and milled or milled raw as much as possible with a mortar and pestle, in which case a good portion of the bran would probably still be intact. The industrially polished rice we eat today would NOT be a traditional food, but it's possible that neither is unmilled brown rice.
I guess our challenge is to figure out how to parboil and mill rice then! I have no clue how this would work. Anyone?