USA Rice Brings the "Farm To Table" Concept to Life for Culinary Professionals
Arlington, VA, April 25, 2008 - In response to growing interest by chefs, culinarians and consumers to know the origins of their food, the USA Rice Federation recently hosted a day-long "From Farm to Table" experience in Louisiana for 35 culinary professionals. Food experts got a first-hand view of this trend by touring Jeff Durands family rice and crawfish farm and enjoying an authentic Cajun lunch of U.S.-grown rice and other local foods prepared by Chef Patrick Mould.
"By learning about the farmers, the food becomes more interesting, more personal and more meaningful," says tour attendee Kristine Kidd, Food Editor of Bon Appétit magazine.
Chef Mould of Louisiana School of Cooking agrees, "More so today, people want to know where their food comes from. I like to use products that are indigenous to the region I am cooking in, and our rice stacks up to any rice grown in any other part of the world. Its very high quality, cooks well and there are many different varieties of rice."
Attendees also learned a less well known fact: that most of the rice consumed in the U.S. is grown here. U.S. rice farmers produce an abundant supply of short, medium and long grain rice as well as jasmine, basmati, arborio, black japonica and more. About 19 billion pounds of rice is grown each year in six states: Louisiana, Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.
"About 88% of the rice consumed in America is grown in the U.S." said Clarence Berken, a Louisiana rice farmer and Chairman of the USA Rice Council. "Today white rice remains a key staple for consumers and chefs, but were also seeing a growing demand for brown rice, which is whole grain rice before the bran is removed to make white rice. Were very proud of the fact that in the U.S. we produce our rice to the highest safety and quality standards in the world."
Tour attendees learned about the different rice types and sampled its versatility through local Cajun cuisine with dishes like Crawfish and Rice Calas, Boudin (Spicy Pork and Rice Sausage), Crawfish Etouffee with U.S. Jasmine Rice and Creole Rice Pudding. Culinary professionals also toured Durands family farm to see how rice and crawfish fields complement each other.
"Rice and crawfish crops are very eco-friendly," says third-generation farmer Jeff Durand. "Rice farms create an ideal, natural and sustainable habitat attracting hundreds of species of waterfowl and shorebirds that feed and nest in the ponds and fields."
According to the University of California Davis, sustainable agriculture offers innovative and economically viable opportunities for growers, laborers, consumers, policymakers and many others in the entire food system. Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals: environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equality.
For more information on U.S. rice, varieties, U.S. rice suppliers, menu ideas, and benefits for foodservice, visit www.MenuRice.com.
The USA Rice Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the rice industry, conducting programs to build awareness and usage of U.S.-grown rice. U.S. rice accounts for nearly 88% of the rice consumed in America. It is grown and harvested by local farmers in five south central states and California according to the highest quality and cleanliness standards. The U.S. produces an abundance of short, medium and long grain rice, as well as specialty rices including jasmine, basmati, arborio, red aromatic and black japonica, among others. For more information, visit www.MenuRice.com.