Colleges and Universities Embrace Local Sourcing
Volume 1, Issue 1 | February 2017
Colleges and universities across the country are increasingly adding locally sourced ingredients to their menus.
It’s a great way to appeal to socially minded students—it supports the area economy, benefits the environment, and creates a more meaningful connection between the student and farmer. That’s why USA Rice is the perfect match for foodservice operators in the C&U sector looking to beef up current locally sourced offerings. Each year, 18 billion pounds of rice are grown and harvested by local farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas, accounting for nearly 85% of the rice we consume in America. It’s easier now more than ever to choose U.S.-grown rice!
By adding U.S.-grown rice to menus, students will love that they are eating something that is not only good for them, but good the environment—American rice farmers have a longstanding commitment to protect and preserve natural resources. Over the past 20 years, American rice farmers have increased rice yields by 53% while decreasing land use by 35%, energy use by 38%, and water use by 53%—with no GMOs.
USA rice enhances local menu offerings
Rice is gluten-free and one of the least allergenic grains. It is an ideal food to serve students who are allergic to gluten and cannot eat wheat-based products, and it’s a good choice to feature in gluten-free menu items. Pair it with locally sourced eggs for a hearty and savory gluten-free breakfast dish.
Rice roams the globe. It’s an essential component of so many popular cuisines, including Thai, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Turkish and more. With rice on your menu, you can take your students around the world while keeping local sourcing in mind.
Rice is a low-cost ingredient that provides great plate coverage, reducing your need for expensive center-of-the-plate proteins. Think jambalaya, paella, risotto, fried rice—all potentially low-cost, high-margin dishes. Have a themed night in your dining hall to highlight rice-focused cuisine and make special call-outs to the local ingredients, including U.S.-grown rice.
Learn more about U.S.-grown rice for foodservice today!
Nicole Montna Van Vleck is a third generation rice farmer who farms with her parents and sister in Sutter County, California. Nicole is the Managing Partner of Montna Farms—a 133-year-old family farm with 2,500 acres of land dedicated to rice. In recent years, Montna Farms has developed a niche for growing premium Japonica-style short grain rice, primarily Koshihikari—a high-quality short grain table rice sold under the brand name Tamamishiki.
Montna Farms is recognized as an industry leader in conservation, working with such organizations as The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Ducks Unlimited, California Waterfowl and PRBO Conservation Science on habitat preservation. During the winter months when the rice fields are flooded, hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and other species flock to the farm. As Nicole says, wildlife is their “winter crop.” Their land has been dedicated through agricultural easements to maintain its existence as a productive farm and to provide wildlife habitat.
Nicole, her husband, Stan, and her two children say sushi is their family’s favorite rice dish; they typically eat it at least once a week. According to Nicole, “U.S. farmers and ranchers are hardworking and dedicated to providing high quality food to their consumers.” She has a great deal of pride for the domestic agricultural industry and feels that it not only provides jobs in rural areas throughout the U.S. but also cultivates its role as stewards of the land. “We are proud that we provide an environment that maintains valuable resources and habitats,” she says.
Click here to learn more about U.S. rice farmers.