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.
Long before there were national organic standards, Albert and Frances Lundberg began their family farm in 1937. Then in the 1960s, four of the Lundberg’s children, Eldon, Wendell, Harlan and Homer, built their own rice mill and established Lundberg Family Farms as a leading pioneer of the nationwide organic movement.
Now in its 75th year and third generation of family management under Grant Lundberg, more than 70% of the Lundberg family’s rice is grown organically. The other 30% is “eco-farmed,” a term they use to describe a blend of ecological methods, integrated pest management and conventional practices that minimizes use of pesticides and herbicides.
Although the Lundberg brand is best known for brown rice, they also grow and mill more than a dozen other varieties, including exotic Black Japonica and their unique Wehani red rice.
In addition, they offer a range of snacks, including boldly flavorful brown rice tortilla chips and crispy, nutty-tasting brown rice cakes. And they have only one product remaining to be Non-GMO Project verified.
“We take people around the world on their plates with 19 different varieties of rice. Like any agricultural item, there’s a terroir to rice,” says Todd Kluger, vice president of marketing. “There are great flavor attributes that come from the sun, soil and water here in Northern California.”
Along with their commitment to delicious rice, the Lundbergs are equally passionate about protecting the environment. More than 200 species of wildlife, mostly migratory birds, rely on the Northern California rice fields as a seasonal habitat. Lundberg Family Farms partners with local wildlife conservationists to ensure the integrity of the wetlands, help count bird populations and even collect eggs from nests in the fields when needed.
To protect air quality, Lundberg does not participate in the common practice of burning excess straw (a by-product of harvesting rice).
Instead, the straw is left in the field, chopped and incorporated into the soil.
Solar energy panels in the rice fields and at their warehouse also generate approximately 11% of total energy needs and they have a goal of expanding the number of panels to generate 30% by 2015. “Our methods have developed out of the family's deep-rooted beliefs about the land and surrounding environment,” Todd says. “We strive to constantly innovate and to reduce our footprint on the land.”
Have you tried rice from Lundberg Family Farms? What’s your favorite type of rice to cook with and what do you make with it?