Organic Jade Pearl Rice by Lotus Foods
Lotus Foods Organic Jade Pearl Rice - 15 oz. (426g)
Lotus Foods Organic Jade Pearl Rice is one of their most exemplary rices, both for its nutritional and flavor profile, they infuse an organic pearled rice with wildcrafted BamBoom! extract, made from the Moso species of bamboo that grows in the virgin highland forest of south central China.
The oldest living people of the world eat a staple of rice mixed with a unique, edible species of Bamboo leaf and stem for its good nutritional profile. They consider this warm mountain-grown bamboo the true tree of life.
When cooked, Lotus Foods Organic Jade Pearl Rice produces the aroma of a bamboo forest, a light vanilla taste, and an explosion of health-giving nutrients. Lotus Foods Organic Jade Pearl Rice makes an especially pretty plate presentation, sushi, Asian style risotto and dessert pudding.
Coupled with organic and sustainable growing methods, Lotus Foods Organic Jade Pearl Rice is the perfect rice for any occasion.
- Cooks in only 20 minutes
- Especially rich in chlorophyll
- Gluten and wheat free
Frequently Asked Questions
What does heirloom mean?
Heirloom is a term used to refer to plants that are grown from indigenous seed stock. Often, these seed stocks are ancient and have been used in a region traditionally. These seeds have not been hybridized or genetically engineered.
Are Lotus Foods' products Kosher Certified?
Yes, by Scroll K.
Should I rinse the rice?
Rinsing rice is a personal preference. At Lotus Foods, they do not rinse their rice because they prefer to keep all the nutritional value of each grain.
Should rice be soaked?
All grains contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorous is bound) in the outer layer or bran, whole grains, in particular, may be difficult for some people to digest. As little as 7 hours of soaking in warm water will neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains and vastly improve their nutritional benefits.
How should I store Lotus Foods rice?
Lotus Foods should be stored in cool and dry conditions. Their rice is warehoused in 55-60 degree temperatures. If you are not going to use the rice for long periods of time, rice can be kept in the refrigerator and can even be frozen. Exposing the rice to heat and sunlight can cause the rice to go rancid or to develop bugs.
What is the meaning of whole grain?
Whole grain means that the germ and bran layer on the rice is left intact. All rice starts as a whole grain; when the germ and bran layer is removed, you then have white rice. Most of the nutritional value in a grain of rice is within the germ and bran layer. This layer is most often brown (as in brown rice), but can also be red (as in Bhutanese Red Rice) and black (as it is in the Forbidden Rice).
I am diabetic. Can I eat Lotus Foods' rice?
Yes. However, if you have diabetes, you should eat the whole grain rice since these grains have a low glycemic index. Whole grains do not turn into sugars rapidly and can be digested at a more even rate so there will not be a spike in blood glucose levels.
What is glycemic index?
Not all carbohydrate foods are created equal, in fact they behave quite differently in our bodies. The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs - the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels - is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss.
All of our whole grain rices have a low glycemic index of 55 or less.
Are Lotus Foods Rice products processed in a peanut and tree nut free facility?
The processing line at Lotus Foods co-packing facility is free of peanuts, but they do process products that contain tree nuts. Standard sanitizing procedures are followed between processing runs to eliminate contamination.
What makes a rice aromatic?
"Aromatic" is a term given to numerous varieties of rice characterized by a pronounced nutty aroma and flavor, often compared to popcorn. Jasmine Rice is, perhaps, one of the best-known aromatic varietals, although there are others, such as their Forbidden Rice™. It is believed that the aroma is produced by a much higher proportion of a naturally occurring compound found in all rice, 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline.
Why are there different colors of rice and what do these differences mean?
All rice starts as a whole grain, which means that the germ and bran layer are intact. When these are removed, you have white rice. The most common bran layer for rice is brown. But there are also red and black rices. The darker the bran layer, the more nutritional value the rice has. So their Forbidden Rice™, which is a black rice, is the most nutrient-dense rice you can buy. Some rices are only partially milled, so some of the bran layer is left on. These rices tend to be light tan, pink or even a striated color. Their Madagascar Pink Rice is an example of rice that is partially milled. It still retains a high level of nutrition, but cooks faster and has a texture that is closer to white rice.
How can I be assured that your products from China are not toxic or tainted?
They have been working with farmers who grow their Forbidden Rice™, Organic Forbidden Rice™ and Organic Jade Pearl Rice™ for many years. The "Black Dragon River" region where these rices are grown is one of the few areas in China that can be certified organic, due to the pristine nature of the land and waters there. Organic certification implies that no chemicals have been used in the production of the rice. Additionally, they test each container of rice that they receive for pesticide residue or other toxicity. While they have never had reason to do so, if any container of rice were found to be contaminated, they would reject it.
About Lotus Foods
Since 1995, they have pioneered the introduction of exotic rice handcrafted on small family farms in remote areas of the world such as Bhutan, Bangladesh, and China, into the US market. Each rice varietal is distinguished by its terroir* and treasured for its distinctive cooking quality, taste, texture, aroma, color, and nutritional value.
They founded Lotus Foods with the intent and vision to support sustainable global agriculture by promoting production of traditional heirloom rice varieties, many of which may otherwise have become extinct, while enabling the small family rice farmer to earn an honorable living. They are the only US-based company with the unique vision and commitment to seek out small family rice farmers in developing countries and provide them a means of economic support through access to a global and sustainable marketplace economy.
A small company with a big mission, they have become a leader in the specialty rice category, and perhaps what is most important to them is that they have made a big difference in the quality of life of their family farm suppliers. They offer you a rare collection of rice that is the high value alternative to commodity and other standard rice currently available from domestic growers and other importers.
*Terroir (/te-rwär/ in French) was originally a French term in wine and coffee appreciation used to denote the special characteristics of geography that bestowed individuality upon the food product. It can be very loosely translated as "a sense of place" which is embodied in certain qualities, and the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product.
Sustainability is the Core of Their Business
At Lotus Foods, "sustainability" is not just a buzzword. It is what motivates us every day as a company and as individuals. Most of us tend to think of sustainability in terms of agriculture or the environment. Their own broader definition is more in tune with the Earth Charter, which believes that sustainable living and development is premised on an ethical framework that includes "respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, and a culture of peace."
They feel they are at the epicenter of issues related to this broader concept of sustainability. Almost of all of us have stood in front of a supermarket shelf and studied a product label to learn where it came from, what chemicals and dyes it contains, and what impact it might have had on the environment, humans or animals. Though agriculture is no longer essential to our economy, it is essential to our lives. What we eat and how and where our food is produced has major bearing on our personal and national health, human and animal rights, climate change, land and water use, international relations and the survival of American rural communities.
In low-income countries, agriculture still dominates economies and societies. It accounts for the bulk of national production, employs more people than any other sector, supplies basic food and represents a major source of foreign exchange. Agriculture is a critical stimulus for growth and income generation. This means that eradicating poverty and promoting social and economic justice has to start with agriculture and it has to be accomplished in a way that protects and restores the natural resources on which all life depends. At the crux of this challenge is rice, which provides a source of living to two billion people, most earning less than $200 a year.
While they fully endorse the "Buy Local" trend in the US, they also believe that sustainability is a global issue and responsibility. Providing market incentives for smallholder farmers who are conserving biodiversity and growing their rice in environmentally friendly ways is an important way to promote local food security and effect positive change. Their recent work with the System of Rice Intensification is an exciting opportunity to address a wider range of critical sustainability issues looming ever larger in our lives, such as water scarcity.
Whether you purchase a Lotus Foods rice produced in the United States, China or Madagascar, you are not only choosing a high-quality nutritious food product, you are investing in a healthier, more equitable and more sustainable world for their producers and your family.
Heirloom Rice Preserves Biodiversity
Agricultural biodiversity is important for many reasons -- ecological, economic, nutritional and cultural. Barbara Kingsolver, in her latest book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", is among a growing number of writers and experts to express concern about the loss of biodiversity in our global food system. "History," she writes, "has regularly proven it unwise for a population to depend on just a few varieties for the majority of its sustenance. The Irish once depended on a single potato...."
Erosion of genetic diversity in rice is especially problematic given its prominence as the world’s most important food source. Some 80,000 different varieties of rice are stored in a genebank at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). And yet, in the Philippines, where IRRI is based, almost half of the rice area is devoted to just four high-yielding varieties (HYVs).
Ensuring genetic diversity requires that local rices are cultivated continuously, and not simply locked up in seed banks until plant breeders want to find a specific trait. Traditional varieties (also called landraces) and heirlooms are locally evolved varieties subjected to continuous selection by farmers. They have adapted naturally to a vast range of microclimates and to resist pests and predators of their region. Genetic diversity is known to substantially decrease a crop’s vulnerability to diseases.
Heirlooms acquire histories when they are saved as seeds for many generations and become valuable for their stories and the wisdom they contain about their cooking and growing qualities, ceremonial purpose, and healing properties. "Biodiversity is the real capital of food and farming," says Vandana Shiva, "and linked to it is cultural diversity."
Scientists are also increasingly interested in local landraces and heirloom varieties for their nutritional value. HYVs have been developed to optimize yields and not nutritional value or taste. Studies show that the average protein content of HYVs is 6-10%, whereas traditional varieties in the Philippines and China, for example, have been reported with 14% and 16% protein content. Red, purple and black rices have higher levels of iron and betacarotene.
With their unique focus on heirloom and specialty rices cultivated on small family farms, their efforts contribute to keeping alive community traditions and valuable local biodiversity while offering consumers more nutritious rice options.
Further reading: "On Rice, Biodiversity & Nutrients" by Michael Frei and Klaus Becker, Institute of Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Hohenheim, 2004.
Based on mutual respect and a commitment to a broad definition of sustainability, they have developed partnerships with the small family farmers that grow their rices. Almost none of their suppliers had ever exported rice before they began working with them. They have worked together extensively to develop infrastructure to meet USDA and FDA standards of quality.
Many of their rices are grown in remote regions on pristine lands using no chemical inputs. A number of these rices are already certified organic, while others are in the process of becoming certified, and still others they are working to help develop a certifying program in its country of origin. Certification is more complicated than most people realize. There must be established internal control standards for organic rice, good farm-level tracking and record-keeping systems in place, and an internationally recognized certifying body that can carry out the inspections on farmer’s fields. The cost of inspection and certification are generally outside the scope of individual rice farmers as well as most cooperatives.
So while some of their rice farmers are even more "organic" than certified farms, they cannot claim to have grown their rice organically. International certification standards are quite rigorous. For example, although a farmer strictly adheres to organic principles, if his or her field is adjacent to or downstream of a field where chemicals are applied they will be disqualified. This means more expensive barriers such as bunds or channels need to be built, for which they might not have adequate labor or money.
Their Bhutanese Red Rice is a good example of this difficulty. The rice is grown on fields that have never had chemical inputs and irrigated with pure glacier water. The Bhutanese use time-honored techniques for growing the rice, which includes using compost to build the quality of the soil. Since there is no certifying agency in Bhutan, attaining organic certification will be very expensive. With a new democratic elected government in place, they can now begin discussions with the Minister of Agriculture as to how they can all work together to accomplish this important certification.
Another barrier is the organic regulation that requires an organic product be grown on land that has had no chemical inputs for three years. Thus, along with keeping detailed records and documentation, before obtaining the certification the farmer is usually selling organically grown rice for a non-organic price. A product that is being grown organically but doesn’t yet have the certification is considered "transitional." Their Indonesian Volcano Rice and Madagascar Pink Rice are both in their third year of transitioning to organic status. Additionally, these rices are grown utilizing SRI methodology, which goes further than organic in its conservation and wise use of resources.
Nonetheless, organic certification remains a critical yardstick for consumers to make judgments as to how healthful the product is and its impact on producers and the environment, so they are doing their best to work with their suppliers on achieving organic certification. In some countries it is also important in fueling the national organic movement as a whole.
That said, a number of their products are certified organic. What that certification means is that their rices are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Additionally, all of their rices, whether organic certified or not, are non-GMO.
All of their organic rices are certified by Quality Assurance International (QAI)
An emphasis is placed on cultivating the quality of the soil. Healthy soil is a major factor in both nutrient value and taste. While it is difficult to control all of the variables that contribute to improved nutrition, some recently published studies in peer-reviewed journals have shown organic foods to have higher nutritional value.
The trading partnership between the small family farmers that grow their rice and Lotus Foods is based on a dialog of respect and transparency that seeks to provide a means of economic support through access to a global and sustainable marketplace. They are committed to supporting the rights and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and ethical sourcing. Although no formal fair trade rice certification program existed in the early 90’s when they first started working with farmers in developing countries, they pay a premium price that exceeds today’s standard fair trade practices. None of their suppliers had ever exported rice before and together they have worked to develop the infrastructure to meet the standards the USDA and FDA require for quality agricultural imports.
As a mission-driven triple bottom line company, they are proud of the relationships that they have built with their suppliers and the support they have been able to provide to them and their families. The standard fair trade certification model is now being replicated by many international organizations and it is their intent to find the appropriate organizations in each country that they work in. At present, they work with IMO (the Institute for Marketology (IMO) and their Fair for Life program to certify their new Indonesian Volcano Rice. In the near future they hope to have a fair trade certification for all their rice products.
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit multi-stakeholder collaboration committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices.
Their shared belief is that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms. They are North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products.
The Non-GMO Project, Non-GMO Month provides a platform for citizens and organizations to stand up for the right to know what’s in their food, and to choose non-GMO.
GMOs, or "genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses and other animals and plants. These experimental combinations of genes cross the natural species barrier and have not been proven safe. Studies increasingly show a connection between GMOs and an array of health risks and environmental concerns. While GMOs are labeled or banned in most developed countries, in the U.S. and Canada they are unlabeled and are found in nearly 80% of processed food.
With U.S. consumer confidence shaken by ongoing food safety failures, distrust of GMOs is growing. As a result, consumers are increasingly seeking non-GMO choices, and Nielsen reported last February that “GMO-free” is currently one of the fastest growing store brand label claims. In the natural sector, SPINS reports that “Non-GMO Project Verified” is growing faster than any other product claim they track, with at least $250mm in marketplace sales.
Speaker, author and children’s health advocate Robyn O’Brien says, "As a mother of children with food allergies, it concerns me that there are currently no definitive tests that can be relied upon to predict whether the novel proteins in genetically engineered foods might trigger an allergic reaction. We have the right to know what we're feeding our families, and the Non-GMO Project Verified label makes it possible to keep GMO foods out of our kids' lunch boxes."
The Paro Valley, Bhutan
Throughout history, the Kingdom of Bhutan has been known by many names, including "The Southern Land of Darkness" and "The Land of the Thunder Dragon." Often considered "the last Shangri-la," this remote and mystical kingdom was largely isolated from the rest of the world until the 1960s. The guiding philosophy of the nation is encapsulated by their concern for their GNH – Gross National Happiness. To this end, Bhutan has tried to moderate its interactions with the outside world, hoping to integrate the best of modernity while keeping safe their cultural heritage.
Symbolic of this intention to bridge the modern and ancient worlds, the Paro Valley is home to Bhutan's only airport, as well as some of its holiest sites. Legend has it that the father of the Bhutanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism arrived in the Paro Valley more than a millennium ago on the back of a tigress. He meditated for three months in a cave where a monastery, called Tiger's Nest, was built and remains to this day.
The Paro Valley is also known for its stunning rice paddies cascading down steep mountainsides. Here is where Bhutanese Red Rice has been grown for thousands of years. Pristine glacier water rich in trace minerals irrigates these rice fields. This rare variety of rice is found only in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Uniquely adapted to high altitude conditions and fed by the fertile soils and mineral-rich waters of the region, Bhutanese Red Rice is a highly nutritious rice. With its complex earthy and nutty flavor, this rice is a staple food of the Bhutanese people.
Sadly, in the early 90's, heirloom red rice cultivation was declining due to the import of white rice from India. Lotus Foods has worked closely with their suppliers to give Bhutanese farmers access to a global marketplace. Ensuring this new source of livelihood means that this beautiful and wholesome rice is now safe from extinction and will be feeding families there, and here, for a long time to come. Although presently, the rice does not have organic certification, Bhutanese Red Rice has been grown without the use of pesticides or other chemical inputs for centuries. With last year's first ever democratic elections a new Minister of Agriculture has been named and they are looking forward to working with him to develop a rice certifying program.
They are honored to be the first company since 1994, to export from Bhutan — in fact Bhutanese Red Rice is the only product exported from the land of the Thunder Dragon.
Lotus Foods' Mekong Flower Brown Rice is chiefly grown on small family plots by households belonging to the Damrei Romeal Organic Rice Cooperatives in Takeo, Cambodia, a province dominated by rice fields and sugar palm trees. Cooperative members are using a set of growing methods, called the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which enable smallholder farmers to harvest more rice from their traditional varieties using less water, seed, land and no chemicals.
At its height a thousand years ago, the Khmer Kingdom sprawled across what are today Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Vietnam and the Malay Peninsula, ruled from the imperial city of Angkor Wat. Then, as today, people depended on the annual monsoon to flood the Mekong River and its tributaries and water their rice crops. Today, some 60 million people living in the lower Mekong basin -- referred to as the "Rice Basket of the Universe" -- still rely on this annual natural event for their lives and livelihoods. In Cambodia, where 8 million people out of a population of 14 million make their living from rice farming and most people spend as much as 70% their income on food, rice IS life.
The Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, or CEDAC, introduced SRI to Cambodia in 2000, to see if it could improve farmers' yields and reduce their use of agricultural chemicals. Only 28 farmers could be convinced to apply the strange new practices. If they used only 10% of the seeds they normally did, surely their harvest would also be only 10%! For food deficit families this was taking a big risk. Today, about 100,0000 farmers are using some or all SRI practices and averaging 5 tons per hectare of rice as compared with the national average of 2 tons/ha.
One of the first farmers to be trained was Mey Som from Tro Paing Raing village. "When I did conventional farming," he told Oxfam US journalist Andrea Perera, "we didn't have enough rice all year. We didn't have vegetables to eat. We didn't have enough water to bathe. Now we have a surplus." Som was so encouraged by the results that he began traveling around the country with CEDAC, talking to other farmers about his experiences, explaining how a technique that requires less water and fewer seeds could actually produce more rice.
In 2004, a CEDAC evaluation of 120 farmers who had used SRI for three years showed net incomes in the third year were 61% higher than pre-SRI. Fertilizer use had declined from 116 to 67 kg/ha, and agrochemical use from 35 to 7 kg/ha.
Cambodia has some 3,000 different varieties of rice, many of which are superior floral varieties. One of the most popular fragrant rices, and the one most often compared with Thai jasmine rice, is Phka Malis. Lotus Foods is thrilled to be the first US company to import this rice, which they aptly named Mekong Flower, and to be part of CEDAC's ongoing success story to improve rural life and livelihoods in Cambodia.
Heilongjiang & Hunan, China
Two of their most popular rices come from China. Both their Forbidden Rice™, Organic Forbidden Rice™ are grown in the Heilongjiang region of China's Northeast provinces. The bamboo that infuses their California organic short grain rice to make Organic Jade Pearl Rice™ comes from the forests near Changde in the northern Hunan province of China. Heilongjiang Region Forbidden Rice is grown organically for us on hundreds of small family farms in the Black Dragon River region of China's sub-arctic Northeast provinces.
Characterized by extremely long and cold winters, and cool summers with heavy rainfall, the province is dominated by pristine mountain ranges, while the flat central plains are intersected by clean rivers that enrich the soil.
"Heilongjiang" literally means Black Dragon River, which is the Chinese name for the Amur River. Amur is Russian for “Black Water.” The river gets its name from the color of its water that flows through densely forested regions rich with black humus soil. Perhaps it's no surprise that black rice is found growing here as well.
The Black Dragon River is the largest un-dammed river in the world, flowing across northeast Asia for over 2,700 miles, from the mountains of northeastern China to the Sea of Okhotsk. For 1,000 miles, the river forms a natural boundary between Russia and China. Traveling through an amazing array of landscapes, from mountain peaks to desert lowlands, tundra and dense forest, the river plays a significant role in the formation of incredible biodiversity. Home to the white stork, as well as numerous other cranes and birds, as well as over 100 species of fish, the river also supports the world's only remaining Amur Leopards, of which only about 50 are thought to exist.
Millions of years ago a current of molten lava flowed out of the depths of the earth and undermined the river. It may be that this volcanic matter, as well as the rich black soil of the region is what contributes to the intense nutritional value of their Forbidden Rice.
One of their most exemplary rices, both for its nutritional and flavor profile, they infuse their Organic Jade Pearl Rice with wildcrafted BamBoom!™ extract, made from the Moso species of bamboo that grows in the virgin highland forest of China's Hunan Province Situated on the north bank of the Yuan River above its junction with the Dongting Lake system, Changde is a natural center of the northwest Hunan plain.
The largest of the subtropical timber bamboos, Moso can reach up to 75 feet in height, creating a hushed, canopied forest that is similar in feeling to the old growth redwood forests. Michael Li grew up in these forests north of Chensha and learned how to make an extraction of the bamboo using a time-honored technique handed down to him by his grandfather. Bamboo is considered to be the true tree of life due to its good nutritional profile.
The Pianura Padana lies between Milan and Turin and is an important centre of agriculture and Italy’s premier rice-growing region. San Genuario in the Pianura Padana Vercellese, where water is abundant, has been a perfect ground to hand down the respect for the earth and the art of rice cultivation from generation to generation. It is in 1925 that the Picco family moved to BianzË, to cultivate rice in the Cascina Torrone.
More than a century of experience and passion for rice growing is in every bag of Carnaroli Rice produced by the Picco family of Cascina Belvedere. They farm organically and control every aspect of production, assuring quality and taste in every grain.
Cascina Belvedere uses solar and geothermal energy in its operations and has repopulated the environment with local fauna.
Cascina BelvWest Java, Indonesia
Lotus Foods' Indonesian Volcano Rice is nurtured by the Equatorial sun and produced by 2,333 farmers cultivating over 700 acres of paddy fields in Tasikmalaya region, on the tropical island of West Java. These farmers are using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the revolutionary set of rice-growing methods that enables farmers to attain higher yields of more nutritious rice using less water, seed and no agrichemicals.
Indonesia has the most number of active volcanoes in the world, and the eruption of Mount Galunggung of Tasikmalaya in 1982 has blessed the region with rich soil fertility, making the region Indonesia's largest rice producer, and a leading producer of tea, rubber, palm oil, sugar cane, cocoa, and coffee.
Indonesian Volcano Rice is a proprietary blend of rices. Its earthy brown and multi-shades of red reflect the minerals in the volcanic soils, and the extra rich content of magnesium, maganese and zinc is reputed to restore vitality. The brown color comes from the Sintanur variety, an aromatic variety with a vanilla-like aroma. In Javanese culture "Shinta" is the reincarnation of the Goddess of Love, and "Nur" is sun ray. Thus, Sintanur is believed to be a divine variety born from the labor of love and sunshine. Sintanur, in fact, is so well-loved by the Javanese that they often travel with this variety when visiting the other 17,500 islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. Red rice is an integral part of traditional Javanese culture, marking significant ceremonies such as births and weddings.
Some farmers believe that the dramatic increase in productivity from using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is attributable to Dewi Sri, the Indonesian Goddess of Rice, who is pleased that farmers use a rice cultivation method that coincidentally bears her name.
Lotus Foods is working with Bloom Agro, a company in Indonesia with a mission to develop sustainable agriculture and a better life for SRI farmers. It is a pioneer in helping SRI farmers achieve international certification for organic and fair trade rice, and linking them to international markets, so that they can improve their incomes and livelihood options.
Lake Aloatra, Madagascar
Lotus Foods' Madagascar Pink Rice has an unusual story, like a modern day Jack in the Beanstalk tale, complete with "magic" seeds. Rakotomandimby Jean Baptiste, also known as Dista, is a farmer in the Lake Alaotra region of Madagascar. One day in June 2000, on returning home from the market with bags he had purchased to store his harvested rice, his attention was captured by two unusual grains lodged in one of the bags. Curious, he planted them in his home garden and watered them well. One died but the other grew. And grew. And kept on growing.
It produced 63 grain-bearing panicles, about twice the number of his other rice. He and his neighbors were amazed. He saved the seed for the following season, and subsequently harvested two large bags. It was time to cook the rice. However, Dista refused to allow any family or friends to eat it, lest it have ill-effects. He tested it first. The rice was delicious! He waited one more day before inviting other villagers to try it. "Varin'i Dista" (Dista's Rice) was an overnight success. Neighbors requested seeds and now the rice is grown on many farms and is prized by farmers and consumers alike. It has a long grain that elongates at cooking, tastes slightly sweet, and some locals claim it has healed them of illness.
This rice is grown using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) methodology. Because of this, farmers are getting yields of 8-10 tons of rice per hectare (about 2.5 acres) as compared with only 2-4 tons per hectare before. And the grains shatter less in milling so farmers go home with fuller bags. Additionally, the rice is more nutritious, which may be the reason villagers claim it has a healing effect.
They discovered this wonderful, soft rice on a trip to Madagascar in 2006. The president of the KH Amparavarafola Cooperative invited us and cooperative members to his home for a luncheon under the trees where they were served "Dista's rice" with a savory stew of vegetables and duck prepared by his wife. They were struck immediately by the lovely pink color, subtly sweet flavor and amazingly soft (but not mushy) texture.
KH stands for "preserve our heritage" and is a national network of local associations, each with 10-20 households that emphasize natural resource conservation in their agricultural practices. Although the area around Lake Alaotra is considered to be Madagascar's rice basket, family incomes are less than $200/yr. Productivity is low due to weathered soils, poor land management, erosion, and farmers don't have money to buy tools, seeds or hire labor. In communities where SRI is being adopted, though, they saw signs of new prosperity – a new roof being put on, a freshly painted house, and even occasionally a motorbike. This was where they began to see that this simple method of farming could bring an end to poverty, while at the same time conserving natural resources and producing higher yields of more nutritious rice.
Madagascar is where the principles of SRI were developed in the 1980s by Father Henri de Laulanié, who lived and worked with Malagasy rice farmers for 30 years. The methodology was then locally extended by the NGO Tefy Saina. In the mid-1990s, it came to the attention of Glenn Lines, who was managing a USAID-funded project for the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD). CIIFAD had been contracted to raise lowland rice productivity along the margins of what remains of Madagscar's rainforest, to reduce further encroachment on the forest. Though at first skeptical, CIIFAD urged further investigation and validation, not only in Madagascar but other countries. They have worked closely with CIIFAD to bring to market their three new SRI-grown rices. SRI is now being adopted in some 33 countries around the world resulting in many economic, environmental and social benefits.
Mike and Sherry Polit have been growing and processing premium organic rice since 1983. They can provide the best quality organically grown rice because they have complete control over all aspects of production from the field to the finished product. The Polit family is proud of their premium organic brown and white rice varieties and we think they are some of the finest California organic rice available. Lotus Foods use the organic short grain white rice to make their Organic Jade Pearl Rice™. This premium sushi-style rice is grown using the latest in organic farming technology, allowing for resource conservation, soil improvement, and ensuring a high quality product. They know you will agree once you taste this delicious rice infused with wildcrafted bamboo extract.
Different from Traditional Rice Growing Methods
To appreciate the novelty of More Crop Per Drop or System of Rice Intensification (SRI) requires some understanding of how rice is grown. As anyone knows who has traveled in Asia and wondered at the miles of luminescent green paddies, irrigated rice is normally grown covered by water. Although rice is a very adaptable plant, it is not an aquatic plant and by the end of a growing cycle the roots of rice plants kept in flooded conditions have started to die from lack of oxygen. Flooding helps suppress weeds.
The SRI methodology was developed in the 1980s by Father Henri de Laulanié, trained agronomist and Jesuit priest, along with Malagasy colleagues and farmers. With Cornell University playing a key catalytic role, the methodology has spread from just a few hundred farmers in Madagascar to several million smallholder farm families in over 43 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Unflooded Rice Fields
Farmers following SRI principles do not keep their fields continuously flooded. Instead they alternate the wetting and drying of rice paddies. And instead of randomly transplanting clumps of rice seedlings, 4 weeks old or more, into flooded fields, they plant very young seedlings (8-15 days) singly and carefully in rows with wide spacing. Soil is then kept moist but not flooded.
This exposes the soil and the beneficial organisms living in it to the air and sun. Adding compost to the soil builds the health of the soil. Controlling weeds with a simple rotary weeder actively aerates the soil, delivering oxygen to the roots and soil organisms. Larger, healthier root systems and more abundant and diverse communities of soil organisms enable the plants to produce many more grain-bearing tillers (stalks), bigger panicles (ears of grain), heavier grains, and more biomass, which is a benefit to poor households who need the straw for animal fodder.
Higher Yields, Less Inputs
With SRI methods, average yields are 6 to 7 tons of rice per hectare (a hectare is about 2.5 acres), compared to usual yields of 2 to 4 tons/hectare with farmer practices. This matches or exceeds the yields of input-intensive cultivation using high-yielding varieties (HYVs), fertilizer and pesticides, all of which entail considerable economic and environmental cost. Some of their organic SRI farmers are achieving yields as high as 10 tons per hectare.
Each of the management practices used in SRI makes a positive difference in the yield, but the real potential of SRI is seen when the practices are used together. SRI is a work in progress. Farmers are encouraged to make their own improvements in SRI methods and to share experiences within the farming community. SRI concepts and methods have been successfully adapted to upland unirrigated rice, and they are now being applied to other crops like millet, wheat and sugar cane.
They learned about SRI in 2005 from the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD), which has been promoting research, outreach and extension about SRI since the mid-1990s. They saw that many farmers using SRI methods were transitioning from not having enough rice to eat to rice surpluses. These surpluses are of high- quality, chemical-free traditional varieties, many with superior cooking and health properties. CIIFAD thought that developing in-country and foreign markets could be an opportunity to help some of the world's most marginalized farmers preserve both plant and cultural biodiversity, achieve better prices, adopt environmentally sound agricultural practices and bring consumers a healthier food. They identified Lotus Foods as a company that had the experience and values to be willing to accept the challenge of working with inexperienced farmer groups. Challenge is an understatement, but they felt it was essential to bring this message to consumers and allow you to be part of the solution.
Here is what organizations like Oxfam US say about SRI's benefits: "Perhaps the greatest attraction of SRI, particularly in poor countries like Cambodia, is that with just a bit of training and virtually no technology, farmers can earn big returns." OXFAMExchange Fall 2008 - A Root Revolution in Cambodia
More From Less
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, almost one-third of the world's population depends on rice and its products for 60-70% of their daily calories! Consumption of milled rice has increased 40% in the last 30 years and demand is expected to increase another 30-40% by 2030. That's closer than you think.
A big problem is water. Fully one-quarter to one-third of the planet's annual freshwater supplies are used to irrigate and grow the global rice crop. And in Asia, where most rice is grown and eaten, about 84% of water withdrawal is for agriculture, mostly for irrigating rice. Water scarcity is having an increasingly significant impact on agriculture. According to the WWF, "The SRI method for growing rice could save hundreds of billions of cubic metres of water while increasing food security." More Rice with Less Water: The System of Rice Intensification
How LESS means MORE benefits for people and the planet
Less Seed: Conventional rice cultivation in developing countries requires 60-70 kilos of seeds per hectare (a hectare is about 2.5 acres), SRI just 5-7 kilos. That's 80-90% fewer seeds – a huge savings of rice to eat or sell.
Less Water: Conventional irrigated paddy rice production requires 3,000-5,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of rice. That is the equivalent of four months of one person's daily water requirement (according to per capita minimum water requirements designated by the World Bank). With SRI, water use cut in half, freeing up water for household and ecosystem use. Reducing the amount of water in paddies also decreases methane emissions into the atmosphere, which contribute to global warming. Cultivation of rice in non-flooded fields improves men's and women's health and reduces populations of water-borne disease vectors like malarial mosquitoes.
Less Chemicals: Farmers do not need to purchase expensive fertilizer and pesticides. In fact, organic materials (compost, manure or any decomposed vegetation) improve soil structure and boost yields. Farmers report that when SRI methods are used correctly, rice plants are better able to resist damage from pests and diseases, reducing or eliminating the need for chemical protection. This reduces the amount of poisonous chemicals stored near houses, seeping into wells and waterways, and absorbed in soils. Reduced chemical use for health reasons has been a big driver of SRI adoption.
Less Cost: Since farmers do not need to buy seeds or high-yielding varieties — they can use saved seed of their locally evolved rices — and fewer or no agrochemicals, production costs are lower. And with 50-100% increase in productivity, this means no debt and no dependence on input sellers or moneylenders.
Less Land: By raising staple-crop yields, land and water resources are freed up for production of a more diverse diet of fish, fruits and vegetables. Producing more food from the same amount of land also takes pressure off uncultivated ecosystems, thereby protecting important centers of biodiversity and endangered plants and animals.
Less Labor: As communities learn how to use SRI, more labor can be required for careful transplanting and weeding, or to improve infrastructure for water drainage. However, as farmers gain skill and confidence in SRI methods, it can be labor saving. Working with smaller seedlings in puddled rather than flooded fields reduces drudgery.