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“Rice” Is Not Rice

Louisiana State Sen. Francis Thompson, chairman of the state Senate agriculture committee, said he decided to push a bill to tackle rice labeling, as well as dairy and meat labeling, after meeting with farmer groups. He said he isn’t against cauliflower rice—in fact, he likes the taste—but said he wanted to make sure people weren’t confused.

(Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2019 – “In Louisiana, A Fight Over What’s Rice” )

Confusion?

When people use the phrase “califlower rice,” it means that what is in the package is cauliflower that has been riced. It isn’t white or brown or forbidden rice. It’s califlower that’s been riced.

To a state representative in Lousiana and the people of that great state, this whole “califlower rice” thing is confusing? I don’t think so. It is the politics of food. Those who grow rice or milk cows don’t want plant-based alternatives to call their products what the these farmers and ranchers call their products.

I mean, when you go to a restaurant that serves the Impossible Burger, you could honestly have some issues with understanding that Impossible Burgers come from plants and lab and not Bessie the Cow. When you read that the restaurant is serving an “Impossible Burger,” there is a chance you could think that this is the greatest cow-based burger in the history of planet Earth!

Or you could just read a little further and see that it is a plant-based burger, not from a cow.

That is why it is important to realize that reading is fundamental. Reading the front label on a milk carton is not like reading those legal rules we all skip over when signing up for stuff on the internet. Milk labels, rice labels, pasta labels, and even meat labels are all pretty easy and basic.

  • Oat milk is made from oats (says so on the entire front of a carton)
  • Beyond Meat’s “Beyond Sausage” is made from plants (says so right under the name on the package)
  • Chickpea pasta is made from chickpeas (says so when you’re staring at the package in the supermarket)

There shouldn’t be confusion. Companies actually use the words in the names of their products. I use Oatly oat milk – and they call it oat milk. I am not going to walk up to the cold case in the supermarket and scratch my head trying to figure out what is oat milk and what is not. The name is there.

The goat milk people put their product name on the label. Goat milk contains goat milk. There is no confusion there.

I think all milk that comes from a cow should be labeled as such. “Cow’s milk” in big letters. The time has come for the cow’s milk farmers and producers to step up to the plate, follow the lead of the goat and plant-based milk producers and fix their obvious “confusion” in labeling.

I wonder what this state representative will do with Banza, a company that produces pasta and rice made from chickpeas. To me, when you look at the front of their packages, they clearly label their product, stating in very clean languate that the pasta and rice inside their packages is made from chickpeas. Should the semonlina wheat farmers get all up in arms over this one?

I know, I know – as a pastor I shouldn’t get so seemingly frustrated at stuff like this. Really, it isn’t worth the stress.

Though, I am waiting for someone to complain about Lacinato kale – people call this plant “dinosaur kale.” Maybe some state represenative here in New Jersey can offer legislation banning the use of the term “dinosaur kale” since the kale doesn’t have any dinosaur in it.

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