And it’s shining on acres of rice
Francesca and Marisa first met the folks behind Blue Moon Acres a few years ago at the Philly Food and Farm Fest. At the time, we were impressed with the effort the Lyons family had put into establishing certified organic rice fields on their farm in Pennington, New Jersey. We loved their fresh and flavorful rice (Marisa even visited their farm market to stock up), but bemoaned its limited supply. We’re happy to say that what started as an experiment is now a great success, and Blue Moon Acres has just established online ordering for their amazing grains.
Here’s the dish. There are so many reasons to add Blue Moon Acres rice to your pantry. First we think it’s delicious. Being local adds to the freshness factor, which is underscored by the fact that they husk and polish their rice twice weekly, essentially on demand. That’s particularly important with brown rice, as it can go rancid fairly quickly.
More importantly, this rice is not only certified organic but it contains very low levels of heavy metals including arsenic, a noted contaminant in rice. When we first spoke with Jim Lyons, the family scion and the force behind the farm’s organic principles, 150ish was shocked to learn of the levels of arsenic commonly found in commercial rice.
Because their rice is grown on dry land (rather than using the “paddy” method of drowning the fields in water), and that land is certified organic, the average combined inorganic and organic arsenic levels of their rice is 12.2 ppb (parts per billion) with the majority of their rice varieties at what is considered drinking water levels for most states (10 ppb). Arsenic levels for most consumer rice products are upwards of 80 ppb with some beyond 500 ppb. (We’ve never looked at a box of Uncle Ben’s the same.)
The Lyons have always been pioneering farmers. Early adopters of organic practices, they started with 7 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, more than 30 years ago. There, they established a successful microgreens business that provides more than 50 different varieties of microgreens—everything from micro arugula to exotics like popcorn shoots and micro red-vein sorrel—to 280 restaurants across the mid-Atlantic, counting chefs like Daniel Boulud and Jean Georges Vongerichten as clients.
In 2007, the family purchased a second, 64-acre farm in nearby Pennington, New Jersey. The extra acreage allowed Jim to return to an experiment he had tried when he and his wife, Kathy, bought their first farm. It took years of trial and error, with Jim planting as many as 13 different varieties of rice in a given year.
The program has been so successful that the farm has recently added an online rice market to their website, from which you can order five different varieties of rice (all certified organic), each in 1 pound bags. They continue to experiment, so check back often for new varieties. Currently on offer is Medium Grain Brown Rice (good for paella or risotto), Long Grain Brown Rice (for fluffy rice or pilaf), Maratelli Rice (an Italian variety that’s perfect for risotto), Short Grain Sushi Rice, and a beautiful blend they call “Black and Tan,” an aromatic mixture of brown and black rice. Also available are certified organic rice cakes made from freshly hulled rice.
Visit www.bluemoonacres.com for a full calendar of events and a complete list of retailers who sell their other products, including Dean and Deluca Soho, the Park Slope Co-Op, and the Flatbush Food Co-op in Brooklyn; and Di Bruno Bros. and Fair Food Farmstand in Philadelphia.
Blue Moon Acres operates three farm markets: the Pennington Farm Store and Bucks County Market, as well as a stand inside the Stockton Market. Visit www.bluemoonacres.com for hours of operation.
Blue Moon Acres
2287 Durham Road
Buckingham, PA 18912
11 Willow Creek Drive
Pennington, NJ 08534