Whole Story

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Lotus Foods

We love our producers, suppliers and vendors and we think most of them have some pretty interesting stories behind their products too. We’re sharing some of our favorites here in an ongoing series.

During a trip to China in 1993, Caryl Levine and Ken Lee first tasted steaming bowls of a nutty-tasting black rice called hei mei, grown in the Yunnan province.

They fell so in love with its flavor and texture that they returned home to the San Francisco Bay area and started a home-based business importing Chinese black rice that they trademarked Forbidden Rice® and other rice varieties from around the world. Lotus Foods now imports rices from six countries, including China, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Italy and Madagascar.

“Our intent and vision from the beginning was to support sustainable global agriculture by promoting traditional heirloom rice varieties — many of which may otherwise become extinct — while also enabling rice farmers to earn an honorable living,” Caryl explains.

Lotus Foods works with farmers who implement the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to produce their More Crop Per Drop™ line of rices. SRI includes a specific approach to transplanting and soil maintenance methods (such as keeping soil moist and aerated) to help farmers yield more rice with fewer resources — typically half the water, one-tenth the usual amount of seed and no agrochemicals.

“Not only is rice the staple food of half the people on our planet,” Caryl says. “But how it is grown has a big impact on everybody’s future.”

Which Lotus Foods rices have you tried and what did you serve with them?


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Kelli says …

The Forbidden rice is my long time favorite! I keep it on hand and have it with everything from roasted brocolli and grilled chicken or topped with agave, raisins and cinnamon for a treat. Last night I was super lazy and simply put some of your Cindy's Kitchen avocado vinegarette on it. I think I may be bionic after eating Forbidden rice, just sayin'... it's that good.

anne vassal says …

I've been eating Lotus Rice for many years - ti's the only rice I eat since I consume only whole grain products. Not only is the beautiful rice bursting with flavor and nutrients, but Ken and Caryl have redefined rice sustainabliliy with SRI. (Go to their website to find out more. Did you know that rice is not an aquatic plant?) My favorite? Forbidden Blace with wild salmon Asian-style on top or Brown Mekong for curries or stir fries.

Iswandi Anas says …

Excellent! Please move forward. Regards, Iswandi Anas

nik says …

I have yet to try it but I found a recipe this week for Blueberries and Forbidden Rice so I do need to pick some up. Thanks for the article and link!

Lisa says …

I mix Forbidden rice with cubed mango, cilantro and sesame oil. :)