Like a lot of other food companies, Lotus Foods started with a love story. Our love story began when we tasted an amazing black rice while traveling in China. Of course we wanted to know all about it. We were told the rice was known as “tribute rice” or ‘longevity rice’, reserved for royalty, even the Chinese emperor to ensure their good health and long life! That story became our story. When we launched the company in 1995, we trademarked this exotic black rice as Forbidden Rice® after the Forbidden City, the Chinese Imperial palace. From the start, we had some pretty ambitious goals. We wanted to share exceptional healthy heirloom rices with US consumers, promote organic agriculture and rice biodiversity, and support producers with higher prices.
Little did we know that 13 years later we would find ourselves trying to change how the world grows rice! Rice is the most important food staple, nourishing half the people on the planet. Growing it uses tremendous amounts of water. Up to one third of the planet’s annual renewable supply of fresh water is used to irrigate rice. This is not sustainable. We’re using up our water resources faster than they are being recharged, creating water scarcity. This is why in 2008 we committed to partnering with small-scale farmers who radically changed how they grow rice, using less to produce more. With a set of practices that we call More Crop Per Drop™ farmers can double and even triple their yields using up to 50% less water on average and 80-90% less seed. Giving individual rice plants optimum growing conditions and nurturing soil health are key to the increased yields.
Our rice varietals have their own story to tell. While all have been selected for their prized flavors, exceptional cooking qualities, beautiful colors, pleasing textures, and excellent nutritional value, each is imbued with the special characteristics of the lands where they are grown. This is the "terroir" of our rices. Terroir is a French term that denotes the unique traits of geography that bestow individuality on a food product. It can be loosely translated as "a sense of place." Elements that make up the terroir include climate, topography, soil conditions, and the craft of the grower. We hope you will enjoy getting to know the stories of our rice and our farmers.