September 25, 2023

Savoring the Last Grains of September's National Rice Month

By Chef Hari Cameron

Headshot of Chef Hari Cameron

As September draws to a close, the beauty of the transition from summer to autumn is palpable. The golden hues, crisp mornings, and early sunsets captivate our senses, reminding us of the cyclical dance of seasons. For me, as a chef and a father, September has always held a special place. Beyond the allure of the changing season, it brings along the cherished National Rice Month. This year, we mark over 30 years of celebrating and honoring the monumental U.S. rice industry!

I've encountered countless ingredients in my culinary career, each telling its unique tale. However, the comforting and versatile U.S.-grown rice holds a poignant narrative. After long days, as I head home to the joyous chatter of my three boys, the familiar, heartwarming aroma of American-grown rice fills our kitchen. Each grain on our plates represents quality, trust, and daily commitment to feed my family with the best.

But the story doesn't end within the walls of my home. U.S.-grown rice not only nourishes my family but feeds countless households across America. It is a testament to the resilience and dedication of American farmers. Their unwavering commitment guarantees our rice is free from sodium, cholesterol, trans fat, and GMOs. The grain graces our tables epitomizes adherence to the highest growing, milling, and quality standards.

The rich tapestry of the U.S. rice industry is vital to the American economy and the global market. The U.S. is the fifth-largest exporter of rice in the world, with 50-60% of its annual rice crop being exported to more than 120 countries.

The U.S. rice industry provides a reliable supply of high-quality rice to consumers worldwide and significantly provides food security for many nations. Additionally, the U.S. rice industry has made significant strides in sustainable farming practices, reducing water usage, and implementing environmentally friendly cultivation methods. These efforts have benefited the environment and helped farmers improve their yields, while still delivering rice of the highest quality. From aromatic treasures to the fluffy long-grain varieties, the U.S. wears the badge of honor for its unmatched ability to produce every rice type one can imagine — a staggering 20 billion pounds annually!

Every time, a fact that warms my heart is that 80% of the rice we savor in the U.S. is cultivated in our homeland. It isn't merely a statistic. It echoes stories of sustainability, familial legacies, and communities bonded by a shared purpose. Our family farms, the stalwarts of this industry, are not just rice producers. They're community builders, job creators, and economy boosters.

As we bid farewell to September and the particular emphasis on National Rice Month, I urge you to take a reflective pause. Ponder over the journey of each grain, from sprawling fields to your plate. The next time a spoonful of perfectly cooked rice tantalizes your taste buds, remember the legacy, dedication, and passion behind it. While September might be drawing its curtains, let our appreciation for this magnificent grain and its nurturing hands remain boundless and eternal.