When most folks think about rice, two types come to mind: white and brown. But, in reality, most any rice can be brown or white, it’s all simply a matter of how the rice is milled. White rice is milled to remove the husk, the bran and the germ. Brown rice, on the other hand retains the bran and germ, imparting more health benefits.
Where did I pick up this rice knowledge? Lundberg Family Farms. As a part of the current season of unexpected adventures, I jumped at the opportunity to join five other food bloggers on a trip to Richvale, California to experience the rice harvest. We all flew in to Sacramento, then trekked the 90 minutes to Chico, then another 20 minutes to the farm. What did we find on the farm?
Family: The Lundberg Family has been farming in Richvale since 1937 and the fifth generation has just been born. They are a large family, and though not all of them are directly involved in the business, a healthy balance of family and work is maintained through the Family Council. They work hard to maintain balance and fairness so as to keep the family together and the business growing. What’s the family like? I felt like I was somewhere in the midwest the entire time based on their congenial nature and warm hospitality.
Rice: Duh! Not only did I learn my white from my brown, but enjoyed a thorough education on the eighteen varieties that Lundberg Family Farms produces. From Arborio to Wehani, Basmati to Black Pearl, I quickly discovered that there was a lot I didn’t know about rice. I also learned specifically about their sustainable, organic approach to farming and witnessed their fervent commitment to their land and production. They practice crop rotation and maintain a strictly nut-free facility. They don’t take shortcuts and go about their business in a way that’s above reproach and imbued with integrity.
Combine: I took a ride on a combine, a commercial machine that harvests rice. Imagine a giant John Deere that combs rows of rice in a field, pulling in the straws of rice, separating out the rice and ultimately depositing it into transport trucks that take the product to its next destination on the production cycle. Being that it’s harvest season, the combines are running from dawn until dusk, meaning extra long days and 80-hour weeks for the Lundberg team. Rice waits for no man, so they get while the gettin’s good.
A Contest: With six talented food bloggers on hand, it was only fitting to pit us against one another in a cooking challenge. We were paired off and tasked with whipping up a rice-centric dish in an hour. Kimberly from Rhubarb and Honey and I were a team and given the dubious task of dessert. Our first thought, “oh crap.” We’re both savory gals. What on earth can we do with rice in dessert, other than rice pudding? We put our heads together and let the creative process work through our teamwork. We combined a ricey riff on my shortbread cups and her expertise on candied nuts, and brought them harmoniously together with a peach and blueberry filling. The verdict? Despite stiff competition our Sweet Dreams Tarts were victorious! Our prize? An upcoming feature on Food52! Now that’s a jackpot!
It was a special experience to get to see the food firsthand, going to the source. Next time I grab a bag of Lundberg rice from the Whole Foods shelves, I’ll think of that combine, the friendly faces I met, and the incredible amount of work and dedication that goes into every single, sustainably and expertly produced bag.
Looking for a recipe that features Lundberg Family Farms Rice? Here’s my recipe for Tabbouleh Stuffed Mushrooms with the Sprouted Tri-color blend.
*This post and travel sponsored by Lundberg Family Farms, though all thoughts and opinions are expressly my own