High-Tech Brown Jasmine Rice Grown by Rue & Forsman Ranch
Have you ever driven north of Sacramento on Highway 5 in the summer and noticed mile after mile of green fields on either side of the freeway? That is rice. 85% of the rice we eat in the US is grown in California, and the majority of it is grown in the Sacramento Valley. Like so many other crops, rice grows well here because of the climate and soil.
We included Brown Jasmine Rice, from Rue and Forsman Ranch, in our July box not only because it’s a unique variety that we love, but also because of Rue & Forsman Ranch’s farming practices. They are committed to conservation and preserving the land for future generations.
We met with rice farmer Michael Bosworth of Rue & Forsman at one of his rice fields in Nicolaus, California one morning in late June. If you’ve never seen a rice field, or seen how it grows, picture a perfectly flat field of bright green grass submerged in shallow water. Rice growing is actually surprisingly high-tech. Fields are leveled using GPS – the leveler the field the more water is conserved. After shallow furrows are made, water is added to the field to a depth of 5” precisely. This water depth has been shown to be optimal to reduce the need for herbicides. Rice seed is then soaked and put into planes, which fly at 100 miles per hour and ‘plants’ the seeds from the air. The heavy seeds sink and begin to grow. Once the rice has matured, the fields are drained and harvest begins. At Rue & Forsman they even use GPS steering on their tractors to reduce fuel use.
Michael Bosworth oversees the family business that began over 70 years ago. In 1946 Frank Rue, a graduate of U.C. Davis and John Forsman, a graduate of Stanford University, decided to go into business together. They began cattle ranching after buying land about 10 miles south of Marysville. Bosworth’s son, Michael Rue, also a U.C. Davis graduate, returned from school and thought the clay soils on the ranch would be ideal for growing rice. They began rice farming in 1974, and added organic fields in 1997.
One thing that really struck us was how committed Michael and his family is to conservation and sustainability. While using science, they have partnered with many organizations to further that mission. One example is their partnership with The Nature Conservancy, whose mission is to conserve land and water, and to create a world where land and people can thrive. One of the things Rue & Forsman does is keep their fields flooded earlier and longer to ensure that migratory waterfowl and shorebirds have habitat while migrating. You can read more about their other efforts and partnerships here.
If you'd like to learn more about California grown rice and why it is called the environmental crop click here. And, by far our favorite resource is this entire page dedicated to 'Rice Dogs', that's right, an entire page featuring rice ranch dogs! You had me at Corgi...!
It’s no coincidence that this area of California that is so great for growing rice is also a major stop on migratory bird flights. The Sacramento Valley is home to several wildlife refuges that provide nearly 70,000 acres of wetland, grassland and riparian habitats. These refuges host everything from waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, waterbirds, songbirds, reptiles and mammals. In total The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex supports nearly 300 species. Each refuge provides excellent bird watching, and some have nature trails and drive routes. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon – don’t forget your binoculars!
If you would like to Meet the Farmer watch our video below of Michael Bosworth talking about farming rice.
Now, about that Brown Jasmine Rice. We love the toothsomeness of this rice as well as the aroma. No need to soak it first, but do rinse it. We cook it just like any other brown rice, in a rice cooker, with a ratio of 1 C rice to 2 C water. Depending on your method you may need more or less water. I like to throw in a pinch of salt and a dollop of coconut oil. It will pair perfectly with that Tri-Tip you BBQ with the July Box's Espresso Spice Rub and Hazel’s BBQ Sauce.