Easy Japanese Recipes

Rice Milling Tour: Far West Rice

Rice: Field to Your Dinner Table

Last month we were graciously invited by our friends at Far West Rice to visit their milling facility.  I was really excited about the trip, as my grandfather was a rice farmer in Taiwan.  I also wanted my children to have the first-hand experience of how food arrives on the table as an educational learning experience for them.

Before I share the details of the trip, we want to thank Greg, Bill, Chris, Melanie and the rest of the Far West Rice family for an amazing day.  My family and I had so much fun learning about rice farming and milling, and we look forward to visiting again.  There are only fourteen rice mills in all of California, so we feel really lucky to have this wonderful experience.


Welcome to Rice Country.

Rice Field

Far West Rice is located in Nelson CA, about 30 minutes south of Chico.  It is a family owned company specializing in the milling and marketing of high quality medium and short grain varieties.   We immediately noticed how clean and organized the facility is when we arrived.

Far West Rice

Our fun filled day started with Greg introducing us to the philosophy of Far West Rice: a high quality product with Just In Time milling, which differentiates them from rest of the larger millers.  Chris then taught us about the basics of rice; he explained the difference between brown rice and white rice, and gave us a tour of their quality control process.

Later on in the day, we got to observe the entire milling process.  In addition to their passion to deliver quality rice products, we learned that Far West Rice was also the first miller in the region to use solar power.  Their panels cover four acres with 5,500 Photovoltaic Modules producing 821 kilowatts!  It’s part of Far West Rice’s culture to promote a sustainable future.

Far West Rice Solar Panels

Now, are you ready to see how rice is harvested and milled?  Our stories are divided into 3 parts.  Grab a cup of tea and sit back and enjoy the rice journey.

Part 1: Harvesting

Part 2: Quality Testing & Milling

Part 3: On The Dinner Table & Bonus Family Album


Pages: 1 2 3 4

Posted in: Reviews, Travel

Leave a Comment

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  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 14, 2012, 12:48 am

    Wow you really got backstage tour and saw it all! :O Great story!!

  • kat November 14, 2012, 1:12 am

    what an amazing adventure!

  • Martyna @ Wholesome Cook November 14, 2012, 1:46 am

    What a great opportunity to show your kids how rice is grown, but also to see a commercial-sized rice production plant! Love the photos.

  • Hotly Spiced November 14, 2012, 2:36 am

    I’ve actually never seen rice growing! What a lovely tour and so informative xx

  • Mr. Three-Cookies November 14, 2012, 3:45 am

    Very interesting. I never realised freshly milled rice tasted different from the regular stuff.

  • albertocook November 14, 2012, 3:49 am

    I like this

  • Sandra November 14, 2012, 4:15 am

    I will never look at rice the same way again. Thank you for sharing your experieince with us and love all of the pictures. Very good reveiw.

  • Sandra's Easy Cooking November 14, 2012, 6:27 am

    Wow, what an amazing post and what a great experience. I was impressed when I saw the testing process. Great photos and your kids are the cutest!

  • Vicki Bensinger November 14, 2012, 6:59 am

    What a fascinating day you all had. I would have loved to have been on this tour with you. You explained everything so well and in detail. I can only imagine how wonderfully fresh the rice tastes. Thank you for sharing this. I hadn’t heard anything much about this trip since you took it so I’m glad to hear about it.

    Have a safe trip visiting your family. I will look forward to viewing your Instagram photos.

  • Elizabeth @Mango_Queen November 14, 2012, 7:33 am

    Hello Nami’s husband! What a great story on rice! I grew up in the Philippines, in an agricultural province, and my family grew rice so your article gave me such fond memories. I never knew that there were only 14 rice mills ?! What fantastic information. And yes, I know how freshly milled rice is like when cooked. What a great experience and even better one you shared with your children. I’m bookmarking this post for the future. Thanks for sharing all these stories with us. Nami, have a fantastic time going to visit your in-laws! Please come back with photos, stories and lots of recipes! Safe travels to all of you!

  • Kitty November 14, 2012, 9:16 am

    So interesting and very informative. The harvest is very similar if not nearly identical to wheat. For some reason I pictured the rice harvest to be very different. I saw some photos of the harvest on the California Rice Commission FB page this morning. I very much want to go see the rice farm in Georgetown, South Carolina (Mansfield Plantation) which is not so far from us. Is the U.S. still among the top ten rice producers worldwide? Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the world of rice cultivation.

    • Nami November 14, 2012, 11:25 am

      Hi Kitty! Thank you for your kind feedback and comment. My husband is happy to hear that you enjoyed this post.

      I Googled quickly and it looks like the US is not in the top 10 rice producers worldwide (I wasn’t aware of this). And thanks for introducing to California Rice Commission FB page. Great info and beautiful photos there. Thanks again!

  • Ashley - Baker by Nature November 14, 2012, 9:49 am

    What an awesome tour, Nami!!! So fun!

  • yummychunklet November 14, 2012, 10:11 am

    When I see that big tractor, I think of Arkansas and its rice fields!

  • Lawyer Loves Lunch November 14, 2012, 10:28 am

    What a neat experience for you and your family! I’m now curious to try freshly milled rice :) Hope to see you soon!

  • A_Boleyn November 14, 2012, 11:02 am

    Thank you for the tour, Nami. You look so petite in that last picture with Bill, Chris and Melanie. :)

    • Nami November 14, 2012, 11:18 am

      Hehee, I’m 5 feet! ;)

      • A_Boleyn November 14, 2012, 11:23 am

        I’m almost 4″ taller than you so I feel like a giant in comparison! :)

        • Nami November 14, 2012, 11:28 am

          I’ve been always below average height in Japan – not the shortest in classes growing up, but I think I’m the shortest among most of my friends even now! >_<

          • A_Boleyn November 14, 2012, 11:35 am

            The only one in my family that I was taller than, was my mom. By the time my nephew was 14 he was taller than I was and now he’s about 6″ tall. It’s nice that I can ask him to get things down for me from higher shelves. :)

  • Choc Chip Uru November 14, 2012, 11:10 am

    Sounds like an interesting experience my friend thank you for sharing :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Rosa November 14, 2012, 11:22 am

    Interesting! Thanks for sharing those pictures with us.



  • Evelyne@cheapethniceatz November 14, 2012, 12:00 pm

    Amazing experience and thank you for sharing. it is impressive to see all the steps, screening and packaging…in 24 hours no less! I want to taste fresh rice now.

  • Mi Vida en un Dulce November 14, 2012, 3:54 pm

    Wow, what a trip. In Peru we have rice fields in the north of the coutry.I remember as a kid my dad took us to meet once a rice mill, I was impressed.

  • Juliana November 14, 2012, 4:56 pm

    Wow, what a nice tour Nami…I love the pictures!
    Thanks for the post Nami, hope you are having a wonderful week :)

  • Vivala-b.bird November 14, 2012, 6:53 pm

    Thanks for taking all of us on this fascinating tour! Your kids are adorable!

  • Liz November 14, 2012, 6:56 pm

    What a marvelous series! Who knew that freshly milled rice tastes better? I guess it makes sense! I love the photo of you with your kids at the end!

  • Eha November 14, 2012, 7:02 pm

    Namiko-san, this is a story to teach, to file and one from which to learn! Oh, yes, love rice and it is one of the grains I most use and about which I want to learn! Thank you!!

  • Belinda @zomppa November 14, 2012, 7:29 pm

    How cool! I have never really seen the whole thing in action – what a great tour!

  • foodwanderings November 14, 2012, 7:40 pm

    Wow how lucky to get an opportunity to see rice milling up close and personal. What a neat trip!

  • Kimby November 14, 2012, 8:14 pm

    Nami, this was so interesting to learn about from start to finish! It was also nice to read about a company who cares so much about their product and process — amazing technology, too. Loved the photos of your little ones in their hard hats! :)

  • mjskit November 14, 2012, 8:17 pm

    It’s always good to see companies that are using photovoltaic to power the facilities. It’s make me wonder, if small companies can do it, why can’t larger companies and why aren’t we putting more of our efforts toward alternative energies such as solar. We definitely have the technology! I could go on and on about this one. :) A great start to your series. Looking forward to the rest of it.

  • Delishhh November 14, 2012, 8:27 pm

    Wow what an interesting post. Great detail and it was fascinating reading. Did you guys talk about the arsenic that is now in the rice in the US? Did they say if they test for it?

  • Vivala-b.bird November 14, 2012, 8:32 pm

    Have a great trip with your family! :)

  • Kankana November 14, 2012, 9:42 pm

    I remember seeing the photos in Instagram. I need to make one such trip. I am sure it’s fun plus learning.

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef November 14, 2012, 10:08 pm

    What a fantastic post. I could have kept reading for ages. I loved the photos. When I saw the kids with hard hats I knew they’d have a great time. You all had a terrific time, that’s for sure and we all learned heaps about rice.

  • Andrea November 15, 2012, 1:31 am

    Nami, what an absolutely enjoyable post – so many terrific pictures, information and so many happy faces – I especially enjoyed the “bonus family album”, you and your kids look so happy and wonderful on the pictures! Thanks for a very entertaining post!

  • Sanjeeta kk November 15, 2012, 3:24 am

    Such a wonderful opportunity Nami..am sure you and your family would have thoroughly enjoyed the trip!

  • Ramona November 15, 2012, 6:34 am

    What a great experience…. totally up close and personal with the food. It’s great to really see where it all comes from… not just the grocery store. :)

  • Laura @ Family Spice November 15, 2012, 8:47 am

    What a great visit! I’m sure your kids had a blast! We totally take for granted all the work it takes to get our meals to the table. What a wonderful post, Nami!

  • Food Jaunts November 15, 2012, 9:09 am

    I never realized how involved the rice process was. I guess I never really took the time to think about it. That factory process is amazing.

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com November 15, 2012, 9:38 am

    What an amazing adventure!!! So much goes on behind the scenes :)

  • Sissi November 15, 2012, 12:05 pm

    Nami, thank you for this fantastic trip through the rice production stages. It must have been an exceptional moment to taste what you have observed produced in this farm. I’m glad to learn that even in your great Japanese rice cooker you put more water than required (I do this too but I thought it was because of my European rice cooker…). I buy an equivalent of koshihikari too (produced in Italy by a Japanese company). At least this is what their website says. I like it much much more than the American popular Nishiki rice.

  • Ilan November 15, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Whoa it’s so cool how they grow rice!

  • Alessandra November 15, 2012, 3:42 pm

    Really interesting, and efficient… still I miss the look of rice fields in Japan or in places like Bali…

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious November 15, 2012, 4:10 pm

    I’m so jealous of your experience! Although I am so grateful that you shared pictures! I feel like I was right there with you :)

  • ChopinandMysaucepan November 15, 2012, 4:12 pm

    Dear Shen,

    I love visiting factories to discover how food is manufactured and processed. It is really an eye opener and makes us appreciate food even more and truly and educational experience for the kids as well.

  • Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) November 15, 2012, 8:56 pm

    Beautiful photos, Nami! I hadn’t imagined that touring rice fields / a rice mill could be so interesting or fun, but it looks like it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon!

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci) November 15, 2012, 10:37 pm

    What a fun experience, the fields are beautiful!

  • Sonia aka Nasi Lemak Lover November 16, 2012, 2:32 am

    what a great experiences you had! Thanks for sharing such detail write-up.

  • Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb November 16, 2012, 8:13 am

    I love looking at rice fields, the different green/yellow shades are always fascinating. Very interessting trip and omg what machines for harvesting rice. I cant imagine those huge things driving down the mini roads here.

  • Reese@SeasonwithSpice November 16, 2012, 8:44 am

    Thanks for sharing a fun & educational trip with us, Shen. I really enjoyed reading through the post and to gain a better understanding on how our food source is from. Malaysia used to have more rice paddy fields, but it has become a diminishing industry as rice farming have been taken over palm oil which is really sad. So it is great to learn that there are family-owned companies such as Far West Rice take great pride in what they do and making sure their produce promote sustainability.

  • Giulietta | Alterkitchen November 16, 2012, 12:51 pm

    Wow, what a nice tour, Nami! :)

  • Charles November 16, 2012, 1:53 pm

    Oh what a fun trip – that cab on the harvester is enormous! I had no idea so many people could fit in there. It’s about the size of my first apartment in Paris, many years ago, lol :D

    I must feign ignorance – I had no idea they grew rice in the US… I thought it was all grown in Asia, but this makes more sense!

  • Baltic Maid November 16, 2012, 1:54 pm

    What a great experience for you and your family!Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers November 16, 2012, 2:20 pm

    These are the kinds of educational trips I myself would like to take my kids to. What a great post!

  • torviewtoronto November 16, 2012, 6:02 pm

    thank you for sharing this lovely information

  • Parsley Sage November 17, 2012, 10:59 am

    Amazing! The closest I’ve ever gotten to a rice field is in my Harvest Moon gameboy games. This is the REAL deal and it looks so cool :)

  • Jen Laceda | Tartine and Apron Strings November 17, 2012, 7:38 pm

    What a wonderful tour! I fully support small-scale farmers and their operations! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Marina@Picnic at Marina November 17, 2012, 8:24 pm

    Nami, what an interesting story. We drove through that area less than a month ago, and I remember those rice fields. I may even have a photo or two (if teenager didn’t sleep at that time) :)

  • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake November 18, 2012, 6:52 am

    This is a fantastic story…loved the steps your showed, makes me appreciate eating an everyday staple even more! :D

  • Balvinder November 18, 2012, 9:40 am

    An interesting post on rice milling tour.

  • Valerie Brunmeier November 18, 2012, 4:59 pm

    I really enjoyed your recap of your tour Shen! I felt like I was there. I had no idea there was such a great difference between fresh milled rice and the bagged variety at the store. I would love to try it. The kids (and Nami) are adorable :)

  • Yelena November 18, 2012, 5:10 pm

    Nami, what an interesting trip and story you are presenting to us here. I hope you are having a good time and come back to us soon!

  • Raymund November 18, 2012, 10:50 pm

    Wow that rice field photo looks like a desktop wallpaper, Love your photo

  • amy @ uTryIt November 19, 2012, 12:38 am

    Really wonderful experience. I would definitely take my kids there for a visit so they can learn where the rice they eat are actually from (not the market, haha…)

  • wok with ray November 19, 2012, 9:16 am

    How amazing that sometimes here in the west, all we see is the bowl of rice on the dinner table and one might say “rice is a rice.” What we don’t know is the long process of getting those rice on the dinner table. Another thing that amazes me is the difference of processing between a developed country like the U.S. and some Asian countries like where I came from. Here we used technology and there, they used back-breaking human technology. Thank you so much for sharing this post Shen and Nami — This is very educational. I wish you guys and the kids a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    ~ ray ~

  • Katerina November 19, 2012, 9:33 am

    Very informative post Nami! Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  • Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today November 19, 2012, 9:36 am

    I had a chance to drive a tractor once but would bribe someone to let me drive a combine like this one. Your children are lucky that they can attend trips like this one.

  • nipponnin November 19, 2012, 11:56 am


  • Kitchen Belleicious November 19, 2012, 12:14 pm

    what an amazing story and amazing way of putting it into words. I love the tour- it was top notch it seems! I grew up with our 3rd generation rice, corn, soybean and wheat farm and always count my blessings that I was apart of something so valuable to our economy.

  • tigerfish November 19, 2012, 4:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing the “rice field” experience!

    Just recently, I heard a conversation about the 1000+ yr-old rice terraces in the Philippines and hope I can see that for myself one day.

  • Jeannie November 19, 2012, 5:39 pm

    What an interesting post and I am sure your kids love the outing and gained so much knowledge in a fun way!

  • kitchenriffs November 20, 2012, 8:09 pm

    What a terrific experience! You must have had a wonderful day. I learned so much – thanks for the great description and wonderful pictures. Now I know I need to find some freshly milled rice! Thanks so much.

  • Christine @ Cooking Crusade November 28, 2012, 2:22 pm

    This is so cool! I would love to go and see everything that goes behind closed doors in rice fields to get to our packaged rice in stores. How interesting that freshly milled rice tastes so much better than rice in stores – I had no idea! Really want to try some now but no idea where to get it lol

  • Patty November 29, 2012, 7:49 pm

    Great reporting Nami, looks like an interesting look inside Far West Rice;-). I’ve driven through this area and remember seeing the miles of rice fields, so peaceful and beautiful to see! It good to take a moment to appreciate where our food comes from;-)