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


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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. Kitty

    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.

    • 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!

  4. 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!

  5. Eha

    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!!

  6. 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! :)

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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. :)

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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 😀

    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!

  16. 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 :)

  17. 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 ~

  18. 広い大地に囲まれて、豊かな土地で育まれて伸びるお米さんたち、、、映画の中に出てきそうなシーンですね。

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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

  23. 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;-)