Rice in Europe
In Europe more rice is consumed than produced, which makes it the fourth largest importer worldwide. Italy and Spain, in that order, are the main producing countries of this continent. Following them are Greece, Portugal and France.
Thanks to its adaptability to the soil and its yield "Japonica' rice (round grain) is the variety that traditionally has been grown most in Europe. However, the European population prefers "Indica' rice (long grain) especially in Nordic countries. Regarding consumption, the prevalence of traditional rice has declined in recent years as specialties such as steamed, long grain or brown have come to occupy the top positions in the ranking of best sellers.
The regions of Lombardy and Piedmont are the main suppliers of rice in Italy and also in Europe. It is since rice cultivation began in the country, in the first half of the fifteenth century, that the sowing of rice fostered the construction of canals to drain the swamps in these areas. Leonardo da Vinci built one on the plains of the River Po.
In the late nineteenth century, Camillo Cavour took charge of building the canal that would take water from the River Po and Lake Maggiore to other rice fields such as those in Vercelli, Alessandria, Novara and Pavia. Until this day this canal has the name of its creator, 'Canal Cavour'.
This food has not only inspired great constructions, as in Spain, but also great environmental and social consequences on the wetlands; for example, in the region of Doñana, in the Valencian lagoon in and the Ebro delta where it would not be possible to manage with another product