Field to Fork in Texas Means Rice, Corn, and Catfish

TX rice farmer Daniel-Berglund standing in front of green rice field, TX-Field-to-Fork-host
Texas rice farmer Daniel Berglund (photo by Farm Press)
Jun 08, 2022
WHARTON, TX – Last week, dozens of food influencers and food industry professionals gathered in Texas rice country for Field to Fork, an event that takes participants on tours of local area farms with the goal of connecting them to the farmers who grow the food they eat and cook with every day.  The tour took guests to a rice farm, a fish farm, and an ag co-op, and featured a five-star menu catered by Chef Brandon Silva, a native of Houston who has headed several of the city’s top-rated restaurants and starred on The Food Network show Chopped.

After boarding a bus in Wharton, the first stop was Texas rice grower Daniel Berglund’s farm, where Chef Silva served dirty rice with corn aioli made with ingredients growing right before guests’ eyes.  Berglund addressed the crowd, explaining the water conservation and soil health practices that made the meal they were eating possible, noting this year’s challenges with drought and input costs, and what Texas farmers are doing to combat it.

“Farmers are the original conservationists,” said Berglund.  “We care about the land because this is where we live and where we work.  We are facing challenges this year.  We have an average annual rainfall of about 47 inches, and last year it was 62 inches.  We’ve only had about eight and a half inches since the beginning of this year, so it’s been dry.”

Berglund explained how his operation is using less pesticides, herbicides, and water by implementing sustainable irrigation and flooding practices.

The next stop was Mark Kubecka’s nearby fish farm, where the visitors got to witness catfish harvest in action and were treated to a refreshing Tito’s vodka ranch water cocktail with blood orange garnish to cool down after several hours in the Texas heat.  The tour continued to the United Ag Co-op facility in Danevang, where attendees learned about the history of the co-op and its importance in the area’s ag economy.  Highlights included a hands-on demonstration of a cotton gin and Chef Silva’s potato salad.

After working up quite an appetite, guests finished the tour with a five-star, three-course menu crafted by Chef Silva using locally-sourced ingredients.  The dinner was hosted by Daniel Berglund and his wife, Camie, at their beautiful home.  With the help of good music, Texas-produced wine and beer, and a stunning sunset, Field to Fork guests mingled with farmers, conservation experts, and journalists to talk shop about Texas agriculture.

“I had no idea there were rice fields in Texas,” said Gavin Booth, an Austin-based influencer who runs the food blog, Couple in the Kitchen, with his wife, Karen.  “Today I learned so much about different farm systems within Texas, but the most interesting to me was rice.  I eat rice at least once a day, and the fact that there’s rice fields not even three hours from my house is crazy.  Both for me and my readers, it’s so interesting to learn how our food is grown and where it comes from, because it makes you appreciate it more as an ingredient.  It’s just incredible to see what the farmers are actually doing.  They’re able to do so much with such limited water.”

Field to Fork was made possible by the Water Grows initiative, a partnership of the Texas Corn Producers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Texas (NRCS), which has been sharing the story of farmers’ water conservation efforts since 2009.  Also organizing the event was CommonGround, a national movement of women in farming who seek to educate and connect urban and suburban consumers with farm life.