Auntie Amerika pushes up the sleeves of her purple patchwork dashiki and stirs a large pot on the stove, her granny glasses steaming up as she leans over to catch a whiff. She deftly grabs an unlabeled jar of spice from her collection and sprinkles some into the veggie stew. The kitchen is warm and colorful with some Janis drifting in from the other room. “Auntie A, can we have white rice with dinner?” Auntie drops her wooden spoon with a clunk. “No, honey. White rice is not nice.” Auntie is full of declaratives like, “The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead.” A little exaggerated, but then she's a healthy 94-year-old marathon runner. Go Auntie A!
Brown vs. white rice debates often go back and forth across the kitchen table. Taste is a matter of opinion, but the fact is white rice is refined so many nutrients are scrubbed away with the outer layers. That's why it is stickier - which is useful for some dishes. Brown rice has the bran and the germ layer intact and rice bran oil has been found to lower LDL cholesterol. Another minus to white is that refining rice takes an environmental toll on waterways near refineries.
The brown rice in the TakeHome boxes this week is nutritious, delicious, organic, local, and grown in the most sustainable and land-loving way possible by Massa Organics. Farmers Greg Massa and his wife Raquel Krach are part of a family that has grown rice along the Sacramento River for four generations. Both trained as biologists. They returned home from ecological work in Costa Rica to do conservation work on their own family farmstead. They began by planting their lands with native trees and creating habitat for kestrels, ducks, and owls. They transitioned their 700 acres to organic whole grain brown rice and implemented a water reclamation system. They even used the straw from the rice fields to build their passive solar straw bale house!
Massa and his family are staples at many local farmers’ markets. He said it “makes a difference when I get to meet the people who will be eating our rice.”
- Heidi Lewis