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Laojia老家 | Food食材

Why

The mission of Laojia|Food remains the same as for Laojia|BnB: to share the beauty of authentic rural China. Only in this case we are talking about food. We hope that by sharing nutritious food grown in these remote places we will help to provide more people with a healthier diet. At the same time, we will help to revive more friendly farming methods that were once used in these villages, rejuvenating the health of the local ecosystem in the process.

How

This past year, working together with the Laozhai villagers, we have reintroduced traditional farming methods for the cultivation of rice. The methods are aimed at improving the nutritional value of the grain while also improving the health of the soil. After cultivation we hand-process the grain in ways that protect its nutritional value. 

What. 

This past year’s cooperation with the farmers of Laozhai has resulted in the harvesting of 500kg of rice, which we are planning to sell to friends, family (or anyone else interested :) If we successfully sell all of the rice, we will be able to continue this initiative in Laozhai village, which will result in further improving the health of the soil which will result in more nutritious rice and higher yields. In turn, we  believe  this will stimulate more villagers to switch to friendlier ways of farming, and ultimately the ability to provide more people with healthier rice.

Anybody interested in buying Laojia's rice can contact us directly via we chat or our website (www.laojia.co). Don’t wait too long though, as we only have 500kg in stock. We want to encourage people not only to buy healthy food but also to know where it’s grown. Therefore for every 5kg of rice bought we happily give away 2 FREE NIGHTS at our Laozhai village BnB :) 

Q&A

QHow is Laojia working together with the villagers of Laozhai?

A: The first year we see as an experiment. Laojia has invested money which pays not only for equipment, seeds, packaging, logistics etc., but also pays the locals a fixed amount of harvest income per acre, regardless of the outcome of the harvest. This is a necessary guarantee for the farmers who are unfamiliar with these old techniques of farming, which produce lower harvest yields in the early years of transition. As the soil improves and techniques are refined, yields are expected to increase (significantly after 2-3 years). At that point, villagers will become more confident in this natural way of farming and won’t need our financial guarantee anymore. We will then switch to splitting all of the costs and revenue with the villagers 50/50, which we see as a long-term model of collaboration. Our goal is to encourage all of the villagers to be board in transitioning to natural methods, therefore protecting the entire ecosystem of Laozhai village.

Q: Why is buying higher quality rice so important? Isn’t all rice more or less the same in quality and taste? 

A: Rice has for thousands of years been a staple food that contained essential nutrients for our diet. However, after the introduction of industrial fertilizers, pesticides, and machine-driven processing techniques, many of these nutrients have been lost in today’s conventional rice. Choosing rice grown in unpolluted areas (clean soil, air and water), without the use of any inorganic chemicals, and using processing techniques that protect the nutritional value of the grain, can be seen as choosing organic whole wheat bread over white bread. 

Q: Can you tell us something about Laozhai village’s environment? 

A: Laozhai village is located deep in the mountains, 2 hours north of Guilin city, in Guangxi province. It is home to some 300 villagers of the Yao minority. Only accessible by paved road as of last year, this village has seen little development and has remained quite self-sufficient. It’s considered one of the ‘sources’ of the Li-river, has an altitude of 600m+ and a forest density of 95%, which all contribute to Laozhai’s clean air and water. All these factors have a  big influence on the health of the crops cultivated there, and therein, also their taste ☺

Q: What's the price of Laojia's rice?

A: This year’s price is 25rmb/jin (.5kg). Main price factors: 

1. Processing of the grain. We process the grain by using a traditional method called ‘pounding’. This labor-intensive method removes only the very outer husk of the grain, protecting the integrity of the grain as much as possible. To read more about the surprising nutritional difference of ‘hand-pounded’ rice, see below. 

2. Relatively low yield. By not using any inorganic pesticides or fertilizers, the yield of this year’s crop (this is our first attempt at cultivating rice) is much lower than most farms using more conventional techniques (but will improve dramatically, especially in the first 2-3 years, as soil health and techniques improve). Average yield per acre using pesticides and fertilizer: 1650kg rice. Laojia’s yield per acre: 750kg rice.

Q: Why is it better to choose ‘hand-pounded’ rice (a type of brown rice) over ‘white rice’ if possible? 

A: Traditionally, all rice was ‘hand-pounded’. In this labor-intensive process the outer husk of the grain is removed, leaving intact most of the other layers (brans) covering the ‘white rice’. These layers contain essential fiber, vitamins and nutrients. Hand-pounded rice is a type of brown rice that has been popularized as a ‘super-food’. Nowadays, most white rice is being produced with milling machines that ‘polish’ the grain, which removes all layers (brans) until a fully-polished white rice remains. This conventional milling and polishing destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.  

Q: Why do people still choose white rice over ‘hand-pounded’/brown rice? 

A: White rice used to be seen as a status symbol, as only wealthy people were able to hire laborers to ‘polish’ their rice (starting from the 1700’s in Japan). Today all the milling and polishing is machine-driven, making white rice cheaper and more widely available. After white rice became more widely available, people grew accustomed to the flavor which they found to be tastier than brown rice, in the same way that white bread’s flavor is preferred by some people over whole-grain bread. Because of the naturally imperfect nature of our ‘hand-pounding’ process, some grains of this rice will contain all of their bran and nutrients, whereas others will become more polished. This creates a natural mix of brown and semi-polished (white) rice. Therefore, it makes for a great combination of being both nutritious and tasty at the same time.

Q: I feel like eating healthy food now, how do I order? 

A: As we aren’t a shop or anything of such, you can just contact us directly via wechat or our website. Please mention the amount of rice (choice between 'red rice' and 'normal rice') and your address. After placing the order, a villager will start ‘pounding’ the rice and packaging it. Expect a total door-to-door time of 5-8 days.

If you have any specific questions about our rice, farming techniques or environment in which the rice has grown, please feel free to contact us.  

Wechat : Laojiachina | @: www.laojia.co

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