SAN DIEGO, CA – The third and final leg of the Think Rice Road Trip wrapped up here this weekend after another 1,000 miles that saw schedule and route adjustments because of the wildfires ravaging the state. More than 650 household Aroma rice cookers and 700 pounds of U.S.-grown rice were distributed at five consumer events while three events in Los Angeles were canceled and two San Diego events were postponed until next month.
The Think Rice Road Trip has now covered 5,000 miles across nine states with the USA Rice promotion team interacting directly with consumers, giving away Aroma rice cookers, U.S.-grown rice, recipes, cooking tips, and more to receptive and grateful consumers.
The team began the leg last week in Sacramento and California rice country just south of the area where the Camp Fire was beginning. After stops to pick up donations from Farmers Rice Co-op and The Sun Valley Rice Company, the now-famous #RideWithRice truck paid a visit to the Marysville farm of USA Rice Chairman Charley Mathews, Jr., where they recorded another episode of RideWithRice TV with Rice Farming Magazine Editor Vicky Boyd riding along.
The truck left Yuba City as Camp Fire evacuees were beginning to arrive and headed south to San Francisco to take part in the Clement Street Farmers Market and the Stonestown Farmers Market on Sunday. Market managers said attendance seemed light because of wildfire-related air quality concerns of residents, however crowds thronged the Think Rice booth and more than 100 cookers were distributed at each event.
“Farmers markets continue to be a strong spot for us since shoppers are there specifically looking for food, and perhaps more than other consumers are very interested in the story of their food – which we are happy to tell them,” explained Cameron Jacobs, manager of domestic promotion for USA Rice who was on the trip.
The team then visited nearby Emeryville, California, for an extremely popular event at Ruby’s Café in the bustling neighborhood that is home to the headquarters of Pixar Animation Studios, Clif Bar, and Peet’s Coffee among several other well-known brands. The team also made a donation next door at Alameda County Fire Station No. 35 that had several pieces of equipment and firefighters working at the Camp Fire some 155 miles north.
From there the team headed south with a consumer event at Nob Hill Market, a Raley’s store, in Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, and donations at the St. Joseph’s Family Center that provides hot meals to the needy in the area.
The next stop on the tour was in San Luis Obispo where Bang the Drum Brewery, that makes a popular gluten free beer with California brown rice, had invited the team to participate in their weekly trivia contest.
Attendees were surprised to see the truck, but excited to learn about rice – and they were smart to listen and ask questions – since the third round was all about rice. The twelve questions covered basic geographic and market trivia and ranged from culinary (“what’s the name of the Italian rice dish made with Arborio rice?”) to commercial (“who is the largest user of rice in the United States?”) and from crowing (“what percentage of U.S. grown rice contains GMOs?”) to trick (“which grows faster, white or brown rice?”) (Answers: risotto, Anheuser-Busch, zero, and All rice is brown rice when it starts out.)
The team made another donation at The People’s Kitchen, a group that coordinates feeding programs for 45 area groups and then set off on the longest single day drive of the trip – 400 miles to San Diego’s Historic Gaslamp Quarter. (The route was less than direct as they had to avoid trouble areas of Los Angeles.)
The truck is now being serviced and detailed and will be ready for action during the USA Rice Outlook Conference next month. The truck and team will be participating in a public charitable event on December 5 and a military family food distribution on December 10. And in between those events, the truck will be on display at the USA Rice booth in the Exhibit Hall.
Jacobs reminds readers that some lucky person is going to win this piece of rice history during the Conference. The #RideWithRice truck is being raffled off and the winning ticket will be pulled on December 7. Only 1,000 tickets are being sold so if you haven’t purchased a ticket
yet, you better do it soon.