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Reimagining Rice, From the Mekong to the Mississippi

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Look inside my pantry any given week, and you’ll see rice paper for summer rolls, rice noodles for my slapdash version of pad Thai, a few packets of rice ramen, sake, rice wine vinegar, and rice cakes that the teenager likes to smear with peanut butter. There’s a bag of arborio for an occasional herby risotto, brown rice for rainy day khichdi, a basmati from Bryce Lundberg’s farm in Northern California, and a red rice that Anna McClung, a plant breeder, developed from a variety considered a weed.

In the freezer now, there’s a tub of dosa batter, made of rice flour and lentils, from my local Indian grocer.

Call me a rice-ivore. Me and around half of humanity, actually. Three billion people rely on rice as their staple grain. Hundreds of millions of farmers, most with tiny plots of land, depend on rice for their livelihoods.

I’ve been working on an article about rice for many months because as the Earth heats up, rice is in trouble, threatening the sustenance and livelihoods of many of the world’s poorest people. Tran Le Thuy helped with reporting from the Mekong Delta in…

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