Massa Organics: Wholesome Rice

Goodlifer: Massa Organics: Wholesome Rice

Time and again, I’ve heard it said that all products need a good story behind them. Here is a great story. In 1916, Manuel Fonseca planted rice near Chico, CA. In 1997, Fonseca’s great-grandson, Greg Massa, returned from Costa Rica with his wife Raquel Krach. Both had been university-based tropical biologists in central America, but they wanted to be able to engage in hands-on conservation, so they returned to the family farm.

The following year, Massa and Krach planted the first 20 acres of what would become their certified organic acreage (they now have nearly 90 certified organic acres, with plans to increase that amount). True to the family heritage, they are farming rice. But this land is valuable for other crops, too, and in 2005 their first orchard (30 acres of organic almonds) was begun. And that’s just part of the story of Massa Organics.

Greg Massa and Raquel Krach of Massa Organics in the field with their children.

Greg Massa and Raquel Krach of Massa Organics in the field with their children.

Massa Organics (Massa and Krach manage the farm in partnership with Greg’s parents) now has that chance to actively engage in conservation. They have installed recirculation systems to reclaim irrigation water, they plant no GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and they don’t burn any crop residue (an all-too-common, quick-and-dirty method of ridding your farm of it). Nest boxes for indigenous birds and bats have been installed; oak trees native to the region have been planted along the borders of their fields.

Sunset over the organic wheat and rice fields, as seen from the farmhouse.

Sunset over the organic wheat and rice fields, as seen from the farmhouse.

And you’ve got to go online to check out their house! Words will simply not do it justice, but I can tell you it’s built of straw bales from their own rice straw. Any “big bad wolf” who happens to drop by won’t be able to blow down this straw dwelling, however, not with bale walls two feet thick and plaster- or stucco-coated on both sides. The walls are rodent-proof and fire-proof, and the house is situated to take advantage of shade trees (this area of California can get very toasty indeed).

The family's house is built from rice straw bales.

The family’s house is built from rice straw bales.

All of these words, and I still haven’t told you about their food products. First off, there’s organic brown rice — unless you live in a commune, you’ll probably want to buy it in the two-pound bag, rather than the 20-pounder. Either way, it cooks up with a delicate, nutty flavor, and it’s wonderful as a side dish or the basis for a meal (I always cook up extra brown rice to have some on hand for the next few days). Massa Organics makes a beautiful almond butter, too; if you made almond butter at home, starting with first-rate almonds, it would taste as fresh and clean as this does (there are both smooth and crunchy versions).

Massa Organics rice, almond butter and almonds.

Massa Organics rice, almond butter and almonds.

You’ll find organic almonds here, as well as wheat berries (not yet certified organic, as the land is still in its three-year transition phase, but farmed with organic methods). There are even a couple of gift boxes. Head over to the website to, if nothing else, read more about the Massa’s remarkable home. Online ordering is available as well.

Massa's sons, perhaps surveying the fields they will one day tend to.

Massa’s sons, perhaps surveying the fields they will one day tend to.

About author
Stephanie Zonis was born with a spoon in her mouth — a tasting spoon, that is. She began cooking (especially baking) at a very early age, and for a short time even ran a highly illegal baking business from her long-suffering parents’ house when she was in high school. After acquiring a Master’s Degree in Foods, she eventually discovered the Internet in 1997. She’s been writing about food and developing recipes, especially where chocolate is involved, ever since. During those few moments when she’s not cooking or writing or thinking about food, Stephanie enjoys reading, walking, political discussions, and volunteering at a local no-kill cat sanctuary. She has been a member of a medieval re-creation group for longer than she’ll admit and loves absurdist humor.
1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. Great article.
    I believe a house constructed from straw bales and powered by alternative energy from solar panels is both an environmentally friendly and economically sound alternative to a more orthodox building

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