How Rice Is Farmed, Milled, and Packaged at Koda Farms

How Rice Is Farmed, Milled, and Packaged at Koda Farms


– [Lucas] Rice grows everywhere. From below sea level to highlands, seven or eight thousand feet above. It can function as essentially
an aquatic marsh plant. But some strains are
highly drought resistant. It can grow in 95 degree
tropical weather without any negative effect on yields and also in temperatures
as low as 40 degrees in some areas of the Northern Hemisphere. No other crop can grow in such a wide ranging geographical area. Today a handful of southern states and California produce
most of the 10 million tons of rice annually that comes from the US. In the 20th century a
booming population led to challenges for rice cultivators. Issues like how to improve yields. Increased resistance to disease and pests. And create strains that would respond well to irrigation and fertilizers. Koda farms in Central California has been adapting and innovating since its beginnings in the late 1920s and continues that tradition today. The farm is still in the family run by Robin Koda and her brother Ross. Both grandchildren of Keisaburo Koda, known as the rice king
among Japanese Americans. (upbeat music) – [Lucas] This is your Kokuho Rose. – Yes you’re standing in a field of our heirloom Kokuho Rose developed on our farm here in the 1950s. – You said that it grows taller than your typical
conventional rice strains and you can see that as it
waves and leans and very easily. – [Robin] Flops over, lays down. – [Lucas] Flops over. – [Robin] Lays down as we say. – And that makes it a real
pain to harvest is that right? – Right I mean when the grain lays down it’s harder for the harvester
to pick up and thrush and harvest so it’s ideally not a quality you want to
perpetuate in a rice strain but for us we feel that the downside is insignificant compared to the payoff which is that this rice
is extremely flavorful and has a lot of outstanding qualities. And in California because of
California’s quote-unquote Mediterranean climate
you get one crop of rice. If we were more equatorial
and were subtropical we could maybe get two
crops of rice a year but in California you get
one crop of rice a year and our harvest is in the fall. So as Japanese we prefer
to have the shinmai, the new crop rice. That is rice that has been harvested and has been freshly milled. At that point all the flavor nuances, its bouquet will be at their best. – [Lucas] Keisaburo Koda
arrived in California in 1908. After opening a series of businesses moved with his family to the San Joaquin Valley to start a farming
venture in the late 1920s. Anti-Asian sentiment was
growing in the US at that time and Asian immigrants were
denied the right to own land. But Koda put the land in the name of his American born children. For the next several years
Koda’s rice farm thrived. He pioneered techniques such
as sowing seed with airplanes and his farming operation
included a modern rice dryer and mill that improved and streamlined the farm to retail process. – [Robin] So the rice when
it comes to full maturity out in the fields where we want
to harvest it with combine. So it’s essentially your
big grain harvesters. They at that point have just
the individual kernels of rice in their husks and that rice is then dumped into a pit
at one of our two dryers. That pit then transfers the rice through augers up to a grain elevator. That grain elevator’s gonna take it to the top of these towers. – [Lucas] And so then it slowly dries as it trickles down. – [Robin] Right it’s a
very gentle long process. It takes two sessions
approximately 12 hours each. It doesn’t just come
straight vertically down. There are these baffles
so that the rice has to move slowly and to
get the maximum exposure to the hot air. – Okay so what is this big
jet engine looking thing here? – To dry the rice we use natural gas. When this is actually going you have two rings here that blow
out an immense amount of gas and you’ll see two
huge jet flames blowing into this big fan and this fan is rotating and sucking the air up and dragging up and it’s eventually gonna make its way up through the towers. – Okay. – But this is scary. You don’t wanna do any marshmallows. They’ll be incinerated instantly. – And then from there? – Directly to milling. – [Lucas] In the late 1950s and early 60s the Kodas spearheaded
a rice breeding program at the farm that resulted
in a particularly tasty medium grain variety called Kokuho Rose. The rice was introduced
to the domestic market in 1963 and remains a respected and highly sought after
variety to this day. I’m trying to manually pick the husk off these
individual kernels right now and it’s kind of long work. – I know well good thing right? Good thing we have the machines or else it would be more
expensive than caviar right? So the rice essentially
is in with the husk which start on this end. The rice straw and the husks
have a high percent of silica. They’re extremely sturdy very rough fiber. To strip the actual husk off an individual kernel involves this machine which has rubber rollers in it. The rubber rollers are spinning in opposite directions at
slightly different speeds. So the rice then is fed through that and that friction causes
the husk to be stripped off. It’s going to then go up. – [Lucas] What’s up? – [Robin] What’s up is where the rice is polished if it’s gonna be white rice. Further separated. The rice finally moves its way over to what we call a color sorter. You can then control your quality by literally adjusting this machine for whatever color you’re looking for. – [Lucas] So when you
were a kid was this fun? – Oh yeah it was fun because
it was highly unregulated then. You could just climb over
everything like a monkey. This is where we do
some of our packagings. It eventually works its way up and depending on which line it’s going to feeds to either side. So this is the actual trademark. This again is a trademark
that is loosely based on Japanese anthology. And then he adapted it for his purposes to use this trademark Kokuho Rose. – Cool. And that’s the story of rice. – Part of it. (laughing) (relaxing music) – [Lucas] Rice can be
consumed in grain form or ground into flour
and formed into noodles. It can be fried, steamed,
and eaten in soup. It can be dessert too in the form of rice pudding or glutinous
rice that’s pounded and formed into mochi. Rice can be fermented and
turned into sake and beer. The combinations and different forms in dishes rice is served
in is nearly endless. What are we drinkin’? – The good (beeping). – Tatenokawa. Kanpai. – Kanpai here’s mud in your eye. – [Lucas] Why don’t we
try some of the brown and some of the white? – If you say please. – Please? – Okay so we have a little
bit of the white rice here. And a little of the brown as well. So this is a lot more
nuttier full flavored. The white rice is a lot more
subtle so start with that. Itadakimasu. – How do I say that again? – Itadakimasu. – Itadakimasu. – All right. – Does it mean? – It means. – Bon Appétit? – Bon Appétit hope you
fall off a cliff tomorrow. – Say you hope I fall
off a cliff tomorrow? Thanks Robin. Mm. – So the white has a
slightly floral bouquet. It has a slight natural sweet note and it’s just a tasty
everyday eating rice. – It’s really nice and
it’s got as you mentioned the rice has a high starch
content so it does have that nice tackiness and
that nice stickiness. – And incidentally just a side bar here so a lot of risotto strains
and Spanish Bomba strains of rice actually have the
Japonica in the genetic makeup and that’s what gives
it the starch profiles. – I’m gonna try some of this brown now. – All right. So you can see how it’s
a more earthly flavor. It has a grassy note. An earthy sort of nutty flavor. All of this is the white
rice not friction polished and it’s retaining the brown layer. – It’s almost like a slight
little crunch little pop. – That brown layer has
most of the fiber content so that’s going to give it a
different tooth mouth feel. It has more fiber and that also suppresses the starch release. A lot of people who are diabetic who are if they can’t give up rice they’ll switch to brown rice because that
suppresses the starch. – I see what you mean about the flavor of the rice. It stands on its own. The US declared war on Japan in 1941 and soon afterwards President Roosevelt ordered Japanese Americans like the Kodas sent to internment camps. United States enters World War II. President Roosevelt
issues an executive order. – Yes. 9066. People of Japanese descent whether you’re American born or not. Primarily the West Coast
were sent to internet camps. There really wasn’t any other
reason to put them there other than that they were
superficially visually obviously different from
the rest of the population. I mean German Americans
and Italian Americans on the West Coast did not
suffer the same consequences. – Even though America was also
at war with those countries. – That’s right. – And this land. This is not land that was
originally part of Koda farms. Is that correct? – That’s right. On the outbreak of World War II owned and operated about approximately
10,000 acres of farmland. Because there was so much
resentment against Asians they felt that the best
thing to do would be to close the business and hope
that it would stay intact. The government actually
stepped in and mandated that they stay open under the
pretense of producing fiber. Had to sign over power of attorneys to non-Asians and those people during the internment essentially
sold off all the acreage. The milling plant, the farm, the houses. So the family came back
after the internment to approximately 1000 acres
of land and that was it. – Down from 10,000 acres. And everything else it was just gone. I would imagine that
would just be so crushing. – When I look back on it. The second generation, the nisei who were raised
in the American culture, they were more affected by it. But you know my grandfather
was extremely tenacious. – Your grandfather sued the government. – He filed for reparations right. At that time it was
the biggest claim filed in the US so that dragged on until 1965. He actually passed in 1964
so he didn’t actually get to see the settlement which was sad. But then in another sense wasn’t that big of a deal because the
settlement was so minuscule that it didn’t even begin to
cover the attorney’s fees that they had accrued over
literally more than a decade. – Was there satisfaction that
it was a symbolic victory? – I think it was but you
know on the other hand my grandfather more so than
his American born children. He became a naturalized
citizen in the 1950s and he was very happy and very
proud to achieve that status. After the war he established the first American Japanese
agricultural training programs. Exchange programs to promote
goodwill between Japan and the US and what essentially that did was bring over
young agricultural students from Japan to the US. They would spend a year here learning about American agriculture
which at that time was very modern compared to Japan. And then they would go back. So anyway it was his way
of promoting goodwill. – It’s very extraordinary to think about. And I think it’s something
that not a lot of that probably not a lot
of people are aware of.

100 thoughts on “How Rice Is Farmed, Milled, and Packaged at Koda Farms

  1. It is really interesting to learn about the japanese historyin the us and the history of a really old family business. She is a real character as well and nice to see lucas around. Whats not to like about this

  2. Welp. Don't wanna sound like I'm stereotyping my own race. But at the risk of overgeneralization, THERE'S A LOOOT OF ASIANS HERE. OF COURSE WE GROW MORE RICE IN CALIFORNIA. IT'S THE GOOD SH**!

  3. Im just sayin, a big motivator for the internment camps was also because we were openly attacked by the Japanese via pearl harbor. I understand the thought process behind the camps, but in no way am i saying it was right.

  4. Lucas, Report kinda incomplete. How planted, grown? Just covered the harvest part & I'm still not clear. Oh, & FOR THE RECORD, IN & OUT FRIES ARE AWESOME!

  5. love that lady very much to gorgeous lock of hair to hey some historical facts thrown in nice! to round out the video

  6. She is an excellent story teller. Would love watching her own history channel show, with her lovely voice narrating it of course!

  7. The lady was drunk (or at least tipsy) from the start! I totally called it. And then, at 7 minutes there was the sake!

  8. It's an inspiring story, and Robin seems like a hoot to drink with.

    (But Kokuho Rose is mediocre rice, tbh; Koshihikari is much much better.)

  9. Great video. I love/live on rice daily. I want to say as an American that I am deeply saddened by the theft of your land an goods. On behalf of Non-Asian Americans I’m deeply sorry for your loss

  10. Oh man this guy chewing like a cow on cud. Close your damn mouth fool, what are you an only child ? Jeezus Crust.

  11. The Sho-Chiku-Bai is also very good. I steam it in a basket and make onigiri or eat it with braised chicken and sauce made with water, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chili oil, and chili sauce like sriracha or Secret Aardvark Habanero. I braise the chicken and then thicken the sauce with corn starch to serve. I like to dip clumps of the rice into the sauce.

  12. It’s very disingenuous to say that America declared war on Japan in 1941. The Japanese government and its army leveled a terrorist attack against America in 1941. Are you forgetting Pearl Harbor? It is more accurate to say that Japan declared war on America on December 7, 1941.

  13. How rice is made? Its not made, it's grown morons.
    Make me a tree, oh and make me a cow while you're at it.
    Dislike and unsubbed for the title alone.

  14. The party of my dreams: Hanging out with Robin, drinking good sh*t and eating all of those delicious rice dishes! I LOVE RICE; I EAT IT EVERYDAY!

  15. White Nationalist here: I love this lady and her attitude, her family has really thrived through their work ethic and intelligence. The presenter wearing a "1775 Army" hat is also a sign of why Eastern Asians are a valuable addition to this country. These are the immigrants that we need.

  16. The Steinbeck Museum had information on Asian discrimination in California concerning land ownership. Didn't know that.

  17. God damn white people are pretty fucking racist.

    Not all of them of course and on a brighter note, pretty stoked seeing Lucas diving right back in with a more compelling approach instead of the light heart dining on a dime series.

  18. totally unregulated, you can climb all over everything like a monkey…….. never buying their rice that i wont.

  19. Technically his children couldn’t own the land either seeing as they weren’t seen as citizens until after the war. Like I think the 70’s.

  20. Koda has good rice! For other interesting history of japanese farming in the central valley read masumotos epitaph for a peach. Thank you for this video.

  21. WOW Great Family story and we love your rice. Question, what do you use for your weed control ? Do you use any Glyphosate Herbicides like Round Up ? Thanks

  22. Bit of historical correction; there were Italian and German American concentration camps during WWII but they were no where near the scale of the Japanese internment. Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt who was in charge of the West coast was the one primarily behind the internment and why there were almost no camps on the East coast.
    Unrelated but another piece of trivia I came across was that depending on when the communities left Japan affected their opinion of wartime Japan. Brazil's Japanese community for example were pro-Imperial Japan while Americans took to their new homeland like ducks to water. The internments were a mistake.
    Feel free to ignore this and go back to enjoying good rice.

  23. The internment story made me ashamed for the history of past actions. Hopefully we humans can learn from it.

  24. Wow . they had all their land stolen from them .
    Im glad they got the "symbolic" settlement but its still really unbelievable that this happened and that we as fellow americans let that happen to them .
    I wasnt even born then but am embarrassed this happened.
    Its such a shame.

  25. 4:17 I know it’s just the pattern seeking bit of my brain, but damned if that doesn’t look like a smiling Koala… 🐨

  26. very energetic lady love the video. I just don't like the guy, no energy boring and you can see in his face he has no interest in her story.

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