If you would like to read a summary of different rice facts, please go to http://www.producersrice.com/rice/facts.html.
Just a quick blurb: Rice represents 20 percent of the world's per capita caloric consumption. More than 50 percent of the world's population is dependent upon rice for 80 percent of its diet.
Rice is a big deal in this household. It is rare for me NOT to have at least one working rice cooker and multiple types of rice. My favorite is a brown rice that is a mix of short grain and medium grain rices. This produces a dish that is tasty and has a slightly sticky consistancy. I have found it works well both for risoto and sushi.
Rice has been grown in the Southern United States since colonial times. It was grown in the region I now live in (northeast Florida) during the colonial period.
If all you have ever had is long grain white rice, I invite you to visit an oriental market. Nishiki Brown Rice is excellent. You should also give red rice, black rice, and short-grain sweet rice a try. It's all great stuff.
One note about black rice - you CAN cook it by itself, but it is really better to add a couple of tablespoons to a batch of normal white or brown rice. It will give the whole batch a lovely light purple color.