By Elaine West - Published in the April 1, 2021 Issue of the Modoc Record
In the beautiful and fertile valley that lies beneath the south end of the Warner Mountains, near the South Fork of the Pit River, sits Alturas Ranches, a multi-generational family farm which happens to be one of the world’s largest single farm growers.
Alturas Ranches has been producing high quality wild rice in Modoc County for over 25 years. However, two years ago the company decided to start their own unique brand.
“We got discouraged with the lack of information, high prices, unstable market and myths that were associated with wild rice,” said Rendy Christie of Alturas Ranches. The company has dubbed it “Sandhill Wild Rice’’, which is named after the migratory Sandhill Cranes that inhabit the rice. The crane represents longevity, peace and good fortune in some Asian cultures.
Originally grown by Native American tribes, wild rice is not actual rice, but an aquatic grass whose grain-like seed is harvested. It has incredible nutritional benefits.
WILD RICE being harvested at Alturas ranches.
It is rich in antioxidants and packed with proteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, Vitamins B and E. It is also naturally gluten free and can be used as a good alternative grain for diabetics.
“It makes a really great replacement for steel-cut oats at breakfast. It is also very easy to cook as it is scarified. It cooks in 20 to 25 minutes or 12 minutes in an Instapot.” said Christie.
Planted in the Spring, Alturas Ranches harvests the rice in the Autumn and it is done entirely by a local crew whose main focus is to develop and preserve the health of the land and their product. After being processed, they distribute it throughout Modoc County and beyond.
Alturas Ranches has been producing high quality wild rice in Modoc for over 25 years.
“Our primary focus is the health of the land. We continue to develop vast fields of conventionally farmed ground and organic land,” she said. “This is our second year of actively selling Sandhill Wild Rice and we are very pleased with the results. We now have two products: a 16 oz. Sandhill Organic Wild Rice and Sandhill Wild Rice Conventional Grown. In the next year, we hope to go to a 5-pound size and bulk for the bulk bins at grocery stores.”
Currently Sandhill Wild Rice is sold in various locations locally and over 30 other stores in other areas. The company also makes it available on Amazon where it has done very well. The brand even caught the attention of Shape Magazine, a health-conscious publication whose circulation reaches millions, and was included in their April 2021 edition.
Much of the wild rice found in today’s market comes from a milling facility where many products are processed through it, but the wild rice produced at Alturas Ranches comes from a single origin, which is considered of premium quality in the wild rice industry, putting it ahead of their competition.
People interested in their product should check out their website at www.sandhillwildrice.com, where they will find an entire section dedicated to recipes that can be made using wild rice, such as burgers, cold salads and even breakfast cereals. Photos are included with each recipe, all of which were cooked, prepared and photographed using Sandhill Wild Rice. “It has a robust, nutty flavor that grounds each dish by adding rich textures. Fruits, nuts, coconut, honey, brown sugar and even bacon are all great for a wild side breakfast. Have fun with it!” Christie adds.