The next time you take a bite of rice, spare a moment to think of how much work went into getting those little grains onto your plate. Rice is one of world’s most important crops: Billions of people around the world consume hundreds of varieties of rice every day in everything from baby food to beer (in fact, Anheuser-Busch is the largest buyer of rice in the U.S.). Since 1970 per capita consumption in the U.S. alone has tripled, to about 26 pounds annually, and last year Americans consumed more than $3 billion of the starch, according to Euromonitor International. Whatever form it takes, getting all that rice to the supermarket shelves requires enormous coordination, involving more than a dozen steps, from farming to trucking to packaging.
to see how U.S. rice gets from field to fork.