Disclosure: We were invited on a Farm tour of the Sacramento Valley with California Farm Water Coalition. During our tour, we spent an afternoon at Lundberg Family Farms. This was my experience.
To be honest, prior to this tour, I never thought much about how rice was grown, or all that was involved in growing rice. I also had no idea there were different quality of rices, but, looking back on all that rice is used for, throughout the cultures, I realize, it all makes sense now.
Coming from Minnesota, rice was often a part of our meals, and our Minnesota favorite was none other than Wild Rice, so when we stopped off at Lundberg Family Farms in the Sacramento Valley, I was pretty excited to learn more about Rice, see the rice fields, and of course, learn a bit more about Rice Cakes!
A few facts about Lundberg Family Farms:
- The Lundberg’s originated from Nebraska (midwest ties! yay!)
They trace their roots back to 1937, when Albert and Frances Lundberg moved to California from Nebraska. Albert had seen the ravages of the Dustbowl that resulted from poor soil management and short-sighted farming techniques. After moving the family to Northern California’s fertile Sacramento Valley, he impressed upon his four sons the need to care for the soil.
2. Upon moving to California, Albert gave his 4 sons each a farm to maintain.
3. The sons realized that they were better farmers working together, as opposed to on their own so they combined their resources, and truly this is how Lundberg Family Farms was born. It was in the 1960’s when the sons realized they needed to begin selling their unconventional rice methods to the general public. To this day, Lundberg Family Farms is continually combining their resources and working together as a family.
4. At Lundberg Family Farms, they don’t grow typical conventional rice. All of their Certified Organic and Eco-Farmed rice is grown with a concern for the environment. They treat the soil, air, and water as important resources, respecting the delicate balances of nature. They are also a complete organic farm!
One of the original tractors that Albert brought with him over from Nebraska. This tractor sits upon the entrance of Lundberg Family Farms.
Now, about that Rice:
When we first entered Lundberg Family Farms, we were greeted by Bryce Lundberg. He walked us through the test kitchen, then we were brought into one of their meeting rooms where we got to try their NEW product, “Salted Caramel Rice Cakes,” and let me tell you folks, if you’re looking for a lift me up snack, this rice cake will do just the trick!
After trying the new product, we were brought outside where buckets of rice were in front of us:
Paddy Rice, Hulls, White Rice, Brown Rice, Hulls, and more! This is where Grant explained to us, the process of rice making, how white rice comes from brown rice,etc. To sum it up: You start with the grain coming out of the field (see the photo above, the picture on the left is rice straight from the fields!) They bring it in, then get the paddy rice from that. They then remove the hulls from the paddy rice, leaving the brown rice behind! And then, they remove the hulls of the brown rice to become white rice. It was quite informative, and who knew all this happened from one grain of rice coming out of the field!
We were then shuttled into a Golf Cart where Bryce took us by the Rice Fields, showing us all the different varieties of Rice they grew at Lundberg Family Farms:
From Medium Grain to Long Grain to more refined rice. I never knew there were so many varietals of rice, or, maybe I did, but never thought about it!
We then took a facility tour of their Rice Cake Factory, and Bryce explained to us the process of how Rice Cakes were made. It would have been awesome if the machines were in action, but because it was the weekend, the machines weren’t running that day!
Bryce Lundberg explaining the Rice Cake making process to us at Lundberg Family Farms. Can you believe, 4 Rice Cakes are made every minute? And the fact that machines can make the rice cakes so perfectly round, without breaking? Even more impressive, I can barely get a rice cake out of the package without breaking!
After our facility tour, there was still more to be seen as Bryce then lead us out to his Rice Fields, and where the biggest surprise yet was waiting:
They were starting to harvest one of their rice fields (jasmine rice) with their combine! And guess what? Each of us was getting an opportunity to ride in the combine. How cool is that? Truly, this was a memory I’d never forget!!
Thanks to Sara from My Imperfect Kitchen for capturing this moment as I climbed into the Combine!
Not only that, after my combine experience, Bryce looked over at me, as we were in our little golf cart and asked if I wanted to drive us back towards the front of the field? At that point, I was feeling a little more daring, so I said, “sure, why not!”
Proof that I was in the driver’s seat, and more proof, the passengers survived: Gary House from cooking-outdoors, and Sara from My Imperfect Kitchen, and Bryce too!
Needless to say, it was one incredible experience and afternoon at Lundberg Family Farms! Truly something I will never forget.
I look forward to sharing some future rice recipe posts with you, and Lundberg Family Farm has made me an everyday consumer because of their graciousness throughout the day! They also reminded me of all of their amazing products available!
Check out all their products available here.