Rice quality, flavor, and production processes matter when most Americans consume 4-6 servings of rice per week.1 Oftentimes rice is relegated to the side dish category because of its ability to complement any main protein source with which it’s paired. However, this categorization fails to recognize rice’s prevalence as a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert staple. As more of an “often” than “occasional” food on the dining table, it seems it’s time to be more scrupulous about which rice deserves space on the plate and why.
Five generations of doing rice right
The LaGrande family settled in the Sacramento Valley of California and first grew rice on their parcel of farmland in 1924. They could not have happened upon a better location for cultivating rice. The Sacramento River Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world. Right where the LaGrandes secured their property is where rich soil, ideal growing temperatures, and pristine water from the Northern California mountains meet.
Today the Sun Valley Rice Company, founded by father and son Mike and Ken LaGrande, takes to heart that its rice products could not exist without the resources offered by the Sacramento Valley landscape. Conservation and sustainability are paramount at Sun Valley Rice. The company is committed to protecting the water, air, and diverse ecosystems that yield their rice with strides toward renewable energy, scalable solutions, and eco-friendly business practices.
Sun Valley Rice owns the entire process, meaning they can trace every bag of rice. Consumers can expect a bowl of rice that’s grown within 100 miles of where it’s sustainably milled, sprouted, germinated, and packaged to industry-leading standards. Sun Valley Rice’s ability to balance the art of growing with the science of sustainability is what allows their rice products to span from a grassroots family beginning to a broader global reach.
Specialty varieties expertly milled
From the start of their mill in 2000, Mike and Ken LaGrande made a strategic decision to keep standards high. Their mill was built to handle even the more challenging-to-mill varieties. This choice allowed them to become experts in specialty varieties and extremely high-end products. The mill currently holds Kashruth certification, Kosher certification, is a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Certified Facility under the FSSC 22000, and a gluten-free facility.
Sun Valley Rice uniquely offers everything from short- and medium-grain, sprouted, and sake rice. Vertical integration of all processes and an eagerness to innovate using industry-leading technology mean that each variety offered by Sun Valley Rice boasts remarkable quality. Their Calrose is favored as a sushi rice in the U.S. and abroad with its mid-level stickiness and soft, creamy kernel. It’s recognized for absorbing flavor beautifully while retaining texture. When compared with other sushi rice, it proves to be the more reliable choice because of its consistent year-round quality and uniform color, shine, and kernel size. Their Premium Medium Grain has a slightly larger kernel and smoother flavor than the Calrose with the added benefit of retaining moisture for longer periods – making it another popular choice for rolls and nigiri. Beyond their suitability for sushi, Sun Valley Rice’s short and medium-grain rice varieties stand out in every dish from paella and pilaf to soup, salad, risotto, and rice bowls.
Sun Valley Rice’s proprietary method of sprouting some of their varieties results in superior texture, flavor, and nutrition. Also, while traditional soaking of rice in warm water can allow for bacteria growth, their sprouted rice is germinated slowly with a tightly controlled process that lowers the chance of molds or mildews. For their Sprouted Brown Rice, the kernel is germinated, germination is interrupted, and kernel moisture is reduced to preserve nutritional benefits. The resulting rice provides better texture and a shorter cooking time than regular brown rice. When sprouted, brown rice has four times the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) content of regular brown rice and over ten times the GABA of white rice. GABA is a highly beneficial amino acid found in foods like peaches, green snap beans, and rice. Studies indicate that increasing GABA intake may help with promoting calmness, lowering anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and improving cardiovascular function.
Sun Valley Rice and the LaGrande family place a whole lot of intention into ensuring each kernel is set up for success. They serve customers a wide range of rice varieties and products, all with unique flavors, textures, and benefits to suit the right consumer. Hard-working local farmers and five generations of LaGrandes are out to prove that expertly-crafted, flavorful rice of all varieties deserves to be the new pantry staple.