Monday, December 17, 2007

Ending world hunger, one word at a time


Guess what I did this afternoon? I donated 1,420 grains of rice to help feed the world's hungry. And it only cost me a few minutes of my time.

In recent weeks, I've been hooked on www.freerice.com, an amazing Web site that tests your word skills with philanthropic results. Set up as a multiple-choice vocabulary test, 20 grains of rice are donated to the UN's World Food Program for every correctly answered question. In addition, each correct answer increases the difficulty of the following question. It almost reminds me of the SAT test - or the Scripps National Spelling Bee - where you try to guess the meaning (or spelling) of the word based on it's root or language of origin. For example, did you know that aphasia means speechlessness? Any thoughts on the meaning of oleaginous? If you guessed oily, you just supplied a starving person with 20 grains of rice. Bravo!

When I first heard about it a few weeks ago, I thought for sure it was a scam. But research shows it's legit. The site is the brainchild of John Breen, a 50-year-old computer programmer who also created both www.thehungersite.com and www.poverty.com to help raise funds to combat international poverty and hunger.

The game relies on ad revenue, with all of the donated rice paid for by the very same companies whose advertisements appear on the bottom of the screen when you play the game. What this means is that you essentially help generate the money that pays for the rice

On October 7, the day the site launched, a mere 830 grains of rice were donated. But those numbers have since grown exponentially. As of this posting, more than 9,123,269,430 grains have been donated.

Either way, this is one game that doesn't make me feel I'm wasting my time and brain cells by playing. So check it out! You'll expand your mind and help feed the poor. How can you lose?

In honor of the free rice program, here is a yummy ride pudding recipe that utilizes Splenda and only costs you 180 calories per serving. Not too shabby.

SAUCEPAN RICE PUDDING

3 cups whole milk
1/4 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup raisins or mixed dried fruit
2 tablespoons rum or orange juice
1 pinch nutmeg

1. Pour milk, SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener, and vanilla into a medium saucepan. Add cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil. Add rice and salt. Cover and cook over low heat 30 minutes or until most of the milk is absorbed. Stir occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat. Set aside.
2. Place raisins (or mixed dried fruit) and orange juice (or rum) in small microwaveable bowl. Warm in a microwave briefly to plump the raisins. Add plumped raisins (or mixed fruit) to rice pudding.
3. Spoon into dessert dishes. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve warm or chilled.

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