The other day my kids heated up two cans of chicken with rice soup and because I was in a hurry that day instead of having them dish up their own rice I did it while they were still doing school. And, while I was dishing it up, I found myself chasing a few last pieces of rice around the bottom of the pot which is something I probably never do if I really stopped to think about it.
It then briefly crossed my mind that if this were SHTF then of course I would ensure my family and I ate literally ever last piece of rice, drank every last drop of broth, and maybe even licked the bowl clean for good measure. 😉
That just seems like the prudent thing to do, right? I would have thought so.
But then I wondered if this was actually a good idea purely from an efficiency standpoint. After all, a single grain of rice can’t have very many calories per grain. Sadly, the answer isn’t that easy to nail down as it depends on a variety of factors including the type of rice, whether it’s cooked or not, manufacturer statements, and other claims.
For instance, this site states that one ounce of cooked long-grain brown rice has 31 calories. (Note: enriched white rice has 36 calories per ounce which is basically a negligible difference for this exercise.)
Now, according to this site there are six teaspoons per dry ounce. I counted out the number of grains per one teaspoon and found it rather tedious to do, actually. Ultimately, I came up with very roughly 150 grains of brown rice in a single teaspoon which multiplies out to 900 grains per ounce.
This calculates out to 0.03 calories per grain or 3/100 of one calorie per grain! That ain’t much, folks.
The question is this…
Is it worth your effort to literally chase that last grain of rice around the bottom of the bowl from a calories standpoint?
I found the answer to this question even more difficult to pin down as it also depends on a variety of factors including your size, weight, metabolism, and I can’t find anything that says “if you move your arm this is how many calories you’re burning”… I guess Google hasn’t got it all figured out yet.
Instead I found data for some of the least strenuous activities we can do and I settled on brushing your teeth because it’s a basic arm movement. As such, it appears that brushing your teeth for one minute expends roughly 3 calories or a bit less depending on where I looked.
So, if I were to assume that it would take me a mere three or four seconds to scoop up that last grain of rice in the bowl (and assuming the calories burned are very similar to brushing your teeth) I would have expended 0.15 to 0.2 calories doing so. If, however, I were super fast and could scoop up that last grain and get it into my mouth–and put the spoon back down–in less than a second then I’d be close to the mark at about 0.05 calories burned.
Granted, all of this is based off of many assumptions, one of which being: would I really be chasing one grain of rice around a bowl or several at once? If this were SHTF I may actually be intent on scooping up that last grain of rice.
Why does any of this even matter?
Well, at the very least it goes to show that you need to:
- Realize how important calories actually are to your long-term STHF survival, and
- Consider your actions in order to maximize energy efficiency if/when calories are scarce.
Yes, calories are important (as are nutrients) but so is making the best use of those calories. Something as seemingly trivial as whether or not you lick the bowl clean may actually matter when SHTF. If it does, however, things are going VERY badly for you. 😉
On the other hand, you may choose to deliberately consider your other actions during hard times with the intent to conserve energy. Exercising for health comes to mind. Sure it’s good to stay fit–perhaps even critical–but maybe exercise becomes far less important post-SHTF if food is scarce.
In fact, there may be a whole host of activities you would want to forego in hard times, including cutting and splitting firewood, gardening, digging holes for outhouses and latrines, grinding wheat into flour, and hauling water for a wide variety of purposes.
Now, I can hear you saying “What!? That’s like everything there is to survival!!”
Yeah, I know.
You may certainly have no choice but to do these activities when times are tough and if things go on long enough then you definitely will.
The thing is that you may well be able to have a lot of this stuff done beforehand (and/or while food and calories are plentiful). For instance, you can have holes pre-dug for outhouses, you can have plenty of food stored so gardening is less necessary, you can have flour already purchased and properly stored (rather than having to grind it from wheat), you can have cords of firewood already cut and stacked, and so on.
You get the idea.
Ultimately, I’m not here to say NOT to chase that last grain of rice. I am, however, saying “think about the calories” first.