Rice The Gluten-Free Grain Alternative

Rice, the Gluten-Free Grain Alternative

by Brittany Langdon

Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, is four times more common now than 60 years ago and affects about one in 100 people. Celiac disease damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten.
What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the finger-like villi of the small intestine. Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and cancer. According to Mayo Clinic studies, undiagnosed celiac disease can quadruple the risk of death. Mayo researchers are working to discover the causes and improve diagnosis. Mayo Clinic research suggests the disease is becoming a major public health issue. Many find a wonderful gluten-free alternative in rice.
In the United States, rice is mainly grown in California, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana. The United States rice-milling industry is estimated at $6.3 billion in value, supports more than 38,000 jobs, and has nearly $11 billion in increased output. Rice in the United States is no doubt an important economic factor.
But what many people don’t know is the nutritional value of U.S.-grown rice. In my home state of Arkansas, rice contains only a trace of fat and has no trans-fat or saturated fat. United States-grown rice is also nutrient-dense and contains over 15 vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, other B-vitamins, iron, and zinc, and is also sodium, cholesterol, and of course gluten-free. Many Americans now prefer to buy and eat locally, and for the U.S. rice industry that’s a good thing. Instead of buying rice from other countries, we can buy superior rice that is locally grown. Having someone in your family that is gluten-intolerant can be challenging not just for that person but also for the cook in the family. For my family, it is reality. My mom, the primary meal preparer of our household, was diagnosed with gluten-intolerance a couple of years ago. It caused a huge shift in what foods she consumed and ultimately what foods she prepared for the rest of the family.
Want to know what gluten is in? Well, just about everything. Here is a short list:
• Deli meat
• Pasta/Bread/Flour Tortillas
• Cookies/ Cakes
• Muffins/ Pastries
• Cereal/Crackers
• Beer
• Oats
• Gravy
• Dressings
• Broth in soups and bouillon cubes
• Seasoned chips and seasoned snack food
• Soy sauce
• Seasoned rice and pasta mixes
The list could be much longer, but I want to focus on a safe and healthy, gluten-free alternative—rice. My family purchases about 85% of our food from local farmers or grow it ourselves. We have grown rice in containers, but with meager success. So we leave the rice production to our neighbors in Eastern Arkansas. The rice grown in our home state of Arkansas fits our lifestyle. We know that farms here in the United States are more regulated and safer than their overseas counterparts. “Local” rice, grown in our home state, is a more environmentally-friendly food, means less travel, and also requires less fuel for transport of our food. The state of Arkansas grows about 48% of all U.S. rice, more than any other state.
Our family still enjoys “home-style” cooking with organically-grown meats from our own farm paired with organic long-grain rice. The availability of local rice has helped us adjust to a new way of eating, both at home and when eating out. Now many restaurant menus are even offering “Gluten-Free Options,” most of which contain rice.
Already a staple in the pantry, rice is becoming ever more important. Other grain alternatives, such as quinoa, fill that gap, but they are not harvested locally for U.S. consumers, and the over-harvesting of quinoa has created a great hardship on the farmers who grow it and depleted the land on which it is grown. For our family, rice was the economically- and environmentally-friendly, sustainable grain we were searching for. The culinary possibilities for rice are endless, as are the varieties. There are many varieties of rice including aromatic, organic, long-grain, and brown. Oh, and the many products! Our family purchases rice noodles, rice bread, rice tortillas, rice crackers, rich chips, puffed-rice cereals, and the list goes on! This shows the versatility of rice and offers so many options for the home cook and for professional chefs as well.
Rice is the staple food of over half of the world’s population. It is the predominant dietary energy source for 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, 9 countries in North and South America, and 8 countries in Africa. Rice provides 20% of the world’s dietary energy supply. Throughout history, rice has been one of man’s most crucial, life-sustaining foods. Today, it provides nourishment for two-thirds of the world’s population. And with the growing number of people who suffer with celiac disease or who are gluten-intolerant, rice is becoming an even larger, even more important part of the modern diet. Rice—it’s feeding the world and making a world of difference for my family.

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All Natural Hair Color

About 4 years ago I seriously cleaned up my act in my nutrition. I was running long distance at the time and the fuel I needed to endure the many many miles I was logging needed to be the best quality I could find. I discovered I felt better and ran better on organic food. I cut out chemicals from my environment too. My cleaning products changed, my hair care- I went to the “no poo” method. I also decided to stop coloring my hair. That was a big one for me. Lot’s of people have commented on my hair. It is naturally curly and folks would “ooo and ahhh” over it, though I always wanted “normal” hair, aka. straight hair. I got complements on my hair, I worked hard on my hair and so did my colorist. Mary has always been supportive of any idea I had for colors, highlights and cuts. I have donated my hair several times and Mary always did a great job. So when I told her I was going “au natural” she was supportive as always. She still cuts my hair and for a curly headed girl, that is huge, it’s hard to find someone who is good at cutting curly hair.

So I have been about 65-75% gray for about 2 years now. I have had a lot of comments in those 2 years, not many positive ones though. Mostly old men, who have no hair, asking me “where did all those white hairs come from?” I even had one old man ask me “what in world is that white stuff in your hair, did chicken poop on your head?” I swear…. It got almost akin to asking a woman if she was pregnant. There is no way I would comment like that on anything!

Lately I have been working hard on the farm and feeling very tired. I look haggardly, tired and ragged. I had almost decided to go back to chemical coloring. I wasn’t interested in henna coloring. Until…. I found a couple blogs/websites that mentioned using black walnuts as a hair dye, an all natural hair dye. I decided to give it a whirl. We have a huge walnut tree in the back yard and this morning I went out while the dew was on and gathered 10 old walnuts. They were already sort of dried, they were black, not green. I put them in a big pot and added about 3-4 cups of water. I boiled the walnuts and water for 30ish minutes and then turned the stove off and let them cool. I helped the husband work cows, we vaccinated and tagged some new calves. When I got home the mixture had cooled and I strained it into a spray bottle. I slathered coconut oil on my face, neck, hands and arms. ONLY WEAR OLD CLOTHES & USE OLD TOWELS. Whatever the mix touches it will stain! Grout, wood, skin, nothing is safe. The coconut oil allows any of the mixture to wipe off w/o staining. Outside on the deck, I sprayed my entire head, then I sprayed it again and again. I made sure to work my fingers through my hair and put a shower cap over my head, then wrapped an old towel around as well. I let that sit about 10 minutes and decided I had too much to do. I went inside and used the blow dryer on HOT to dry my hair. I did NOT rinse. This is the before and after:

All Natural Hair Color

Now the sources I looked at recommended keeping this on much longer than 10 minutes. So darkness varies with time and also how long you cook the walnuts. You can check the color in the pot by using a ladle. I have no idea how long this will last. I did rinse my hair about 3 hours later, after weedeating- a must, but I did not shampoo or condition, just water rinse. There was a lot of brown water rinsing out, but the color held. Time will tell how long it will last, but regardless it was an easy application, one that I will repeat.

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Hand Dyed Yarn

Hand Dyed YarnAbove is a photo of my latest batch of yarns, mostly 100% wool, but some has a blend of alpaca in as well. This is our Autumn yarn selection. Each skein is reminiscent of the colors that will surround our farm in the next month. We have truly spectacular fall colors each year. These yarns have been twisted into skeins and banded. They will be for sale at the Eureka Springs Farmer’s Market and direct from our farm. We are really excited to offer this lovely product.

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Busy Work

I remember hearing my granny talk about busy work. Well if what I do on a daily basis isn’t enough, now I have added “busy work”. Our farm is blessed with acres and acres of wild raspberry vines. They ripen early July and only last a week, two at the most. So when the berries begin to ripen life just has to take a backseat. We pick and pick until we just can’t pick anymore. Making jellies and canning the juice. It is fantastic. It is a lot of work, but it they are so yummy and delicious. Mom makes fried pies with the berries, my biggest splurge. So today I picked, this was my second day of the season to pick berries. They are just beautiful. Our multiple springs are the main reason our berries are so plentiful, large and luscious. The vines love water, and we have lots of that.

I fed the hogs that are on our mountain pasture and the two mama hogs and their babies. I counted everyone and did a quick check, all was good. As I set out this morning over the steep hillside I thought of my granny Ollie. Whenever I pick berries or work in the garden, or can my garden bounty, I think of granny. I believe she would be so proud of me and the little farmer I have become. She would quarrel at me for working to hard and tell me “I worked hard like that all my life and now look what a shape I’m in.” I heard that often as a young adult. She worked as hard as any human could. In her young adult life she worked at a local sawmill, raised children, grew gardens, picked berries and had a multitude of hard, demanding tasks. I hope one day to be as tough as she was.

So I picked berries, alone on the steep hill, with only the chickens as my company. I had one little red hen that stayed with me all morning. I would pitch her the culled berries and she gobbled them up. I try not to think about snakes when I pick. I am terrified of snakes, and in those dense vines and woods they are a problem. I can’t see where I am stepping due to the vast number of vines and berries, so each step is a step of faith. I just pray that I don’t step on anything squishy.

I can usually pick about a gallon of berries per hour and today I made it out with 3 rounded over gallons and a stuffed hen. The pigs visited me off and on, but lost interest when they realized they were not getting the contents of my buckets. I finished just in time to get all the berries packed into half pint clam shell containers and put into coolers for the farmer’s market tomorrow. It began to storm and the creeks are flooded, so I’m really glad I picked this morning.

With the farm there is little time to do off farm activities. The farmer’s markets are the only days that I like to be away. Things get out of sorts and work piles up anytime I leave. This weekend I harvested 10 frames of honey from our newest hive of bees that I purchased last spring. I was very happy & we have some very rich, very dark honey! Really lovely. It is packed for the markets as well. So that’s it, that’s my busy work for the last few days. Life on the farm is busy work, every day, but some days you have to cram a little more in than others.  Now I’m off to enjoy the rain during the evening feedings.

Ready for Market

Ready for Market

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Where’s the Beef?

We have fresh beef available!  Raised to organic standards, our beef are Certified Naturally Grown and Animal Welfare Approved.  Our cows live a charmed life on 500 acres, 80% woodland & the rest in pasture, with plenty of fresh springs throughout the farm.  They receive no antibiotics or hormones. We have many different cuts of packaged beef and also do whole or half beef when available. If there is a particular cut you are looking for please let us know. We are at the Eureka Springs Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays from 7-noon and we are at the Newton County Farmer’s Market in Jasper Wednesdays from 9-noon.

Meet OUR Meat!

Meet OUR Meat!



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Rainy Day Work

It started raining after I fed the pigs & chickens this morning.  I had a ton of things to do in the garden after being gone to markets on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The rain kept me inside, so I decided to make the most of it.  I have been wanting to make a new soap with our fresh Jersey cream, so today I did just that!  I planned to make a Creme de Mint, but when I mixed the lye and cream, it turned orange.  So….I made Orange Creme soap instead.  I used orange and lemongrass essential oils.  I made a double batch, and I can’t wait to take it out of the molds tomorrow.  Once I remove it from the insulator, I will cut it into bars, the bars will then cure for 4-6 weeks.

I had all my oils out, and with two markets each week our supply of scrubs and salves were running low.  I made a new batch of sugar scrubs.  This batch is sage and peppermint, it smelled heavenly!  It is ready to be labeled and will be at the Eureka Springs farmer’s market on Tuesday!  I also created a new product, Essential Bath Salts, it is comprised of essential oils and salt.  I used sage and lavender for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

I began a new herbal infusion for a batch or two of our very popular Boo Boo Balm.  It takes 4-6 weeks for the oil to be infused with herbs, so I have to keep a batch going all the time.  I used a lot of my tried and true herbs like Comfrey and Plantain, and some new ones as well.  We use a lot of the balm and we sell a lot of it as well.  It really is a wonderful product.

I am ordering supplies for our lip balms today and as soon as they arrive I will make up a new batch of that also.  Well I better get with the ordering and less of the blog updating.


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It scares me sometimes at how busy I am.  It seems the blog gets pushed aside because I am in constant farm mode.  I have so many updates, I am sure I will forget some!  We received our acceptance into the Animal Welfare Approved program!!  We have two litters of piglets due in a couple weeks.  We have had two new calves born (they are beautiful) and we are milking a new mama.  We have 150 new baby chicks hatched out of the incubator who are growing nicely and will be butchered in a few months.  We just received our approval for the SNAP/EBT program.  Participants of the program can now purchase our organically raised meat, eggs and produce with SNAP/EBT benefits!  We are very excited to offer this.  You can purchase direct from the farm or locally at a couple local farmer’s markets.  You can find us at the Eureka Springs (Tuesdays 7am-Noon) and the Newton County/Jasper (Wednesdays 9am-Noon) Farmer’s Markets.

We are currently sold out of pork and beef, but will be taking some to butcher in a month or so.  You can’t rush forest/grass fed animals.  It makes planning difficult at times, but it is worth it!  We have chicken, eggs, herb soaps, lotion bars, lip balm, chest rub, boo boo balm, maple syrup and raw honey.  We are making drops in local towns so check in with us if you need anything!  Thanks so much for all your support!

Here is our new banner for the markets.  It highlights our offerings.

Meet OUR Meat!

Meet OUR Meat!


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Farm Videos

Enjoy some of our latest videos:

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Hauling Piglets

We had a buyer coming down from Lucky George Farm in Derby, Iowa.  They have purchased Large Black hogs from us before and needed a few more, who doesn’t need more pigs????  So with their checkups and health papers to cross state lines needing to be taken care of and a huge amount of ice on the ground, what’s a girl to do??  She loads them in her Jeep.  My Jeep is my “farm wagon” it goes places it shouldn’t have to and hauls things it shouldn’t be required to.  But it’s a great Jeep!  The piglets (3 months old and 60lbs each!) were loaded in the back of the Jeep and away we went, an hour into town and vet appointment done, an hour back home and unloaded.  They were great!  But whew the smell!!  Here’s our video of the day:

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Large Black Hog Updates

Farm life is time consuming.  So blog posts tend to be few and far between. We have had several lovely litters of piglets.  The winter was just brutal.  Cold temps and lots of frozen precipitation made farm life much more difficult.  Carrying water, icy roads and frozen fingers are just a few of the hardships.  We currently have two mama’s & their piglets in the barn.  They are going out of the barn during the day and exploring & playing and at night they go back in the barn.

We have sold several wonderful breeders and delivered two hogs to the butcher.  We had two buyers visit the farm yesterday to purchase and pick up pigs.  It’s nice to have other farmers comment on the way you raise your animals.  One farmer commented that he had been searching for the right pasture pigs for a while.  He had several potential farms and pigs that he had looked at, but our pigs were the first that had actually be out on pasture.  Others had bragged about their pigs being great on pasture, but they were in very small pens-outside.  In my opinion just being outside does not equate to being raised on pasture or woodland.  So it’s nice to get good feedback and have others who are happy to buy our pigs.  He went home with a wonderfully hearty lil boar piglet who has been out in the forest since being weaned.  It is more work raising animals the way we do it, but for us that’s just how it needs to be done.  Happy hogs are tasty hogs!

Our livestock guardian dog, Turk, has been doing fair- a few setbacks, but he is still just a baby and learning the ropes.  The chickens have provided eggs all winter long and are thriving.  The cows are mooing and eating the young grass that is sprouting up.  We work very hard on growing our grasses.  We aren’t blessed with many pastures so what we do have we try to manage very well.  We have been working on re-seeding every field and purchasing and shipping in trailer truck loads of organic chicken litter.  We have had some very nice days in the 60’s and 70’s and the bees are working their little hearts out.  I have checked in on them once and they seem to be doing nicely.  I don’t have a lot of experience with the bees, so that is something that is hard for me, but I really enjoy have the honey and pollination benefits!  I am running behind on gardening.  It amazes me how quickly I fall behind in that area, but the weather didn’t help and everyday farm-tasrophes have kept me to occupied to start my seeds.  I hope to get to work on that later this week.  We finished up our maple syrup season and even had a local magazine visit the farm to do a story on the process and history of our maple syrup making.

Here is a video of our hog Bossy & her babies who are trying hard to nurse Itty (who has no milk).  Click HERE for the video. 

Categories: Bees & Honey, Chickens, Cows, Farm Living, Gardens & Greenhouses, Pigs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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