Westerners have become rather detached from where our food comes from. When I was growing up, ‘rice’ was called Minute Rice®. It came in a red box and was ready to eat in, well, about a minute. We ate it as a side dish, usually plain with just butter and salt. I still like to eat it that way sometimes, which my Asian friends think is just weird.
In some places rice may be just another culinary ingredient. However, in other places it’s the most important item on the menu and possibly one of the few things some people will eat each day. And in much of the world, it’s still grown and harvested in ways that haven’t changed much in hundreds of years.