When it is time for dinner, and the desire to cook has gone, or we are in a rush to go to bed, or want to treat ourselves to a simple pleasure, the choice often oscillates between a dish of pasta or rice. These two foods, because of their simplicity in the kitchen, occupy a predominant place in our daily diet. But are they good for the body and the planet? WiseFins has studied the nutritional values, water requirements and carbon impact of our two daily allies. Let the battle begin!
Round 1: rice vs. pasta: which is healthier for me?
You love their taste; but do you know the composition of our two opponents? Both are starchy foods that have the particularity of providing complex sugars that are slowly assimilated by the body to give it the energy it needs. Pasta is made of wheat flour, water and eggs while rice is a cereal. Nutritionally, the good news is that rice and pasta have the same number of calories, about 350 calories per 100 grams. On the other hand, rice contains more lipids, in other words, fat (1.5% against 0.5% for pasta) and carbohydrates. However, rice is better because it is eaten plain, i.e. without added fat, unlike pasta, which we like to combine with tomato, cream or other sauces.
RESULT: it is a good tie for our everyday heroes. A tie that managed to get us salivating!
Round 2: rice vs. pasta: which has the lowest impact on water resources?
Let us start this second round with our cereal, rice. Rice flourishes in rice fields where water plays a predominant role in the different production cycles: evapotranspiration, infiltration and evaporation. The use of water is so important that it is estimated that the production of one kilo of rice requires 13,850 litres of water. This is an astonishing figure, as it would be equivalent to running a dishwasher more than 300 times! His opponent seems to be less greedy in his water consumption. Indeed, the production of one kilo of pasta would require 720 litres of water, almost 20 times less than rice. However, these figures take into account water needs during production and not during consumption. For cooking, 1 litre of water is required for 100 grams of pasta and two volumes of water are needed for one volume of rice. We also talk about cooking at WiseFins!
RESULT: pasta wins this round! Easy, growing rice consumes more water than any other crop. As for water after cooking, WiseFins can give you some tips on how to reuse your water wisely: water your plants, make a soup, and make a hair care product for damaged hair or even to remove grease.
Round 3: rice vs. pasta: which has the lowest carbon footprint?
Let us end this battle by studying the carbon footprint of our two opponents. The production of one kilo of pasta emits 1.72 kilos of CO2 against 2.16 kilos of CO2 for rice. Here again, no surprise, rice cultivation is one of the most greenhouse gas emitting crops in the world, as it produces methane and nitrous oxide. Methane and nitrous oxide are emitted when soils are submerged and subsequently dried out respectively. Rice cultivation alone accounts for 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The production of one kilo of rice is comparable to a 10-kilometer car trip and more than 500 hours of video streaming! To minimize the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the rice fields, it would be necessary to reduce the amount of water used to much lower levels; unfortunately, this is not on the agenda.
RESULT: it is a double for pasta! The carbon impact is reduced by almost 0.50 kilos of CO2 for one kilo of product. Congratulations!
Verdict: rice vs. pasta: pasta is the big winner!
Pasta wins this WiseFins battle. Pasta won because it uses less water and emits less CO2 than rice, which is an extremely polluting crop.
Want to learn more about rice? WiseFins invites you here. Are you still hesitating between rice and pasta for dinner tonight?