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The Craft of Sustainable Rice Farming

For generations, the Isbell family of Arkansas has been tinkering with innovations in rice farming. They were the first American farmers to grow elite varieties of rice for sushi and sake, and have pioneered rice cultivation methods that can conserve water and slow climate change.

Story by DAVID RAMSEY
Photography by KAT WILSON

Listen to “The Craft of Sustainable Rice Farming”

The Isbell family of Arkansas has spent decades experimenting with new ways to grow rice. In the process, they pioneered American-grown rice for sushi and sake, along with rice-farming techniques that can save water and help slow climate change.

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Arkansas’ Seedbed of Unique Rice Varieties

  Editor’s Note: This sidebar first appeared in our Winter 2020 issue. It is being republished as originally written, without new reporting.   Chris Isbell’s work to seek out a new market for specialized sake rice is part of a small but growing trend. Some farmers, in the face of lower commodity prices in recent years,…

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