Giveaway: Philippine Heirloom Rice

Violet Sticky Rice

When we think of rice, we may think of only a few specific varieties.

Italian Arborio, Thai Jasmine, and Indian Basmati, for example.

But what if I told you there are rice varieties from the Philippines whose aromas, textures, and flavors are on equal footing with the world’s other gourmet grains?

Considering all the rice we Filipinos eat for breakfast, stir into porridge, and wrap for dessert (not to mention our everyday steamed rice or fried rice), it may seem commonsense that of course the Philippines must grow fantastic rice. And they do.

But because of certain economic and agricultural hardships in the Philippines, it imports much more rice than it exports–which is why quality gourmet Philippine-grown rice is unknown here in the States. In fact, upon closer inspection of my own pantry, I’ve only got rice from Thailand (Jasmine and Glutinous), California (Calrose), and Italy (Arborio).

But thanks to Eighth Wonder, a U.S. company based in Montana, heirloom rice from the Philippines is now available to us all.

Philippine Heirloom Rice

Philippine Heirloom Rice

Heirloom Rice from the Philippine Rice Terraces

The rice imported by Eighth Wonder is grown and harvested in the famed Rice Terraces of the Philippines, also known as “The Eighth Wonder of the World”. In 1995, the Philippine Rice Terraces were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. These irrigated terraces are located within the Cordillera Mountain Range in Northern Luzon, and were carved into the mountainside by indigenous Filipinos over 2000 years ago. The staggered rice pond terraces that climb the mountainside appear to be a literal “stairway to heaven.”

Rice_terracesPhoto Courtesy Eighth Wonder

Today, Eighth Wonder, Inc. works directly with indigenous farmers to create a sustainable economic enterprise for the people of the surrounding areas and provinces. The farmers are able to grow enough rice for themselves and the surrounding communities, as well as enough rice for export. At the same time, rare heirloom varieties of Filipino rice are preserved and kept in production.

By exporting these unique rice varietals to the U.S., Eighth Wonder provides the indigenous Filipino farmers an opportunity to preserve their traditional way of living while also allowing the farmers to own a part of the company. And while much of the rice terraces have been crumbling from disuse and erosion, the work of Eighth Wonder and the local rice farmers provide for the maintanence and revitalization of a centuries-old ecosystem.

Seven different varieties of rice are available from Eighth Wonder: four staple and three sticky/dessert varieties of heirloom rice from the Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain provinces of Luzon. While I’ve had the pleasure of working with all seven rice varieties, three of them have been listed on the Slow Food Foundation’s “Ark of Taste”:

  • Kalinga Unoy: A short-grained red rice with a nutty aroma and firm grains that remain fluffy and somewhat separated when compared to my regular steamed white rice.
  • Tinawon Fancy: A short-grained red rice with fat puffy grains and an earthy aroma. The grains remain separate after cooking, and are great the next day in a fried rice.
  • Mountain Violet: A medium-grained purple “sticky” rice. After cooking, the rice remains a vibrant violet color and is plump and sticky–perfect for Filipino desserts like suman. I even used some in a champorado.

Purple Rice ChamporadoPurple Breakfast

All seven varieties of Eighth Wonder Heirloom Rice are available at all 40 Southern Pacific Whole Foods stores (i.e. Southern California locations), as well as Whole Foods stores in the Pacific Northwest region (i.e. Oregon/Washington). Philippine-grown rice at Whole Foods?!! Who knew?

Eighth Wonder rice is also available nationally at various independent stores and Fair Trade giftshops. And if you can’t find it in stores, you can also purchase online at the Eighth Wonder website. So please do seek out this rice–consumer support is what drives the project in the Philippines.

And yes, I do think this rice is worth seeking out–the aromas, tastes, and textures are unlike any rice I’ve ever eaten before. Plain and simple, the rice is delicious.

And to prove just how incredible this rice is, I’ll be giving away FIVE bags of the Mountain Violet sticky rice, courtesy of Eighth Wonder. Each bag contains 1 pound of the beautiful purple rice that is perfect for Filipino or other Southeast Asian rice desserts. And it’s also great in savory rice salads as well.

Woohoo! Sound the Giveaway Alarm!!!

Purple Sticky Rice

Purple Grain

For this giveaway, I will randomly select FIVE winners and contact them via email or Twitter Direct Message–so if you aren’t already following me on twitter, you know the drill!

To enter this giveaway, complete BOTH steps below to qualify:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and include your twitter name.
  2. Tweet this exact phrase and link on Twitter:
    “Win Heirloom Rice from the Philippines via @BurntLumpia:”

All comments and tweets for this post will be accepted as entry for the giveaway and this contest will end on Monday August 1, 2011 at 11:59 PM Pacific time. I’ll randomly select 5 winners, the winners must reply to email or DM within 24 hours–otherwise I’ll randomly select another winner. Sorry, this contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Full Disclosure: Yes, I received the rice for free from Eighth Wonder, but I was under no obligation to write about it, review the products, etc. As always, I chose to feature the product here because I did enjoy the rice, and because of the connection to Filipino farmers and Filipino products. So there.

  • Tracey@Tangled Noodle July 25, 2011, 8:12 am

    How wonderful that these rice varieties are available in the US, thanks to Eighth Wonder! There will be some very lucky winners indeed.
    Y’know, it’s funny: I learn more about artisan Filipino food products (such as salts and rice) from you in the US than here in Manila! I need to get out more… 8-P

  • John July 25, 2011, 8:18 am

    i wanna try this rice 😮

  • Kevin Bogart July 25, 2011, 8:20 am

    Count me in! I’m @fieldsix on the twitter.

  • Sheridan July 25, 2011, 8:32 am

    Yum! @sheridanmarfil

  • Elliot Acosta July 25, 2011, 9:09 am

    I want in!!! @projectalphae

  • Kawa July 25, 2011, 10:06 am

    Woo! @fandomonymous

  • gisselle July 25, 2011, 10:09 am

    sign me up! @fredneechay

  • ladywild July 25, 2011, 10:10 am

    cool! @ravenwildhaber

  • christiaan July 25, 2011, 10:47 am

    gimme kanin!

  • mabuhay July 25, 2011, 10:55 am

    IRRI – International Rice Research Institute was set-up in Los Banos, Laguna. The fact that the Philippines was chosen says a lot about the quality of rice we produce and the technology we had BEFORE(1960s/70s).
    Our ASEAN neighbors, including thailand and vietnam, sent representatives to learn from us. Unfortunately, we are now importing rice from these countries.

  • April Koopongsakorn July 25, 2011, 12:44 pm

    Awesome…love me some rice! @koopthereitis

  • Darryle B July 25, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I want this purple rice! I got an idea of making this Purple Rice and Ube sticky rice dessert thing cooked in a bamboo tube. Hence, I NEED this rice! Lol!
    Gimme tha kanin!

  • Bernie H. July 25, 2011, 3:55 pm

    I’ve been looking for indigenous rice from the Bahay Kubo! Sign me up!
    On Twitter: @CrzySxyFangrl69

  • Kristin Fitzsimmons July 25, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Yum, rice! @ilovevultures

  • seeks corey July 25, 2011, 9:16 pm

    Yes, please. @sneakfuzz

  • pleasurepalate July 25, 2011, 10:35 pm

    I’d love to check out this rice! @pleasurepalate

  • jb July 26, 2011, 5:41 am

    I listened in wonder when my friend who comes from the rice-growing region told me about these other rice varieties which I’ve never heard of. Yes, it is indeed sad and very unfortunate that despite the fact that IRRI is situated in the Philippines, we have been relegated to a position where we are importing rice instead of exporting it. This is what corruption and mismanagement have done to the country.

  • Melissa July 26, 2011, 6:19 am

    This is a fantastic giveaway!
    I’m @astranoir on twitter

  • Beth July 26, 2011, 8:44 am

    Rice research in the Philippines is the best in Asia. Philippines creates rice varieties, other countries invariably “steal” them and sell them. Sad though that the good rice goes to other countries, and the mediocre rice goes to the general populace. Our version of rice wine is also better than sake, but we haven’t been able to refine it as much because there’s no cash for needed technological investments. In the future when I open a restaurant (here’s hoping!) I’ll be sure to source rice from Eighth Wonder.

  • Julie July 26, 2011, 11:54 am

    Ah, man–I had to remember how to even Twitter to do this because I’ve been trying not to get caught up in more social media than I can handle. It’s worth it, though! 😉

  • Seada July 26, 2011, 3:26 pm

    wow, i didn’t realize there were so many different types of rice. i’ve eaten violet colored rice before but i always thought it was a food coloring. i have a bunch of filipino friends that would love to know of the eight wonder site. hope i can try this rice one day~
    i’m new to twitter so i’m not sure how it works but my twitter name should be “Seada Ho” if not then here’s a direct link.

  • Mel July 26, 2011, 3:46 pm

    I was always amazed at how much rice we imported! It’s so exciting to see that there’s so many heirloom “bigas” varieties! I wanna try!

  • Nelly Rodriguez July 26, 2011, 4:12 pm

    Oh I’d love to make a rice salad with this! Would be perfect! Gorgeous color! @nella22 (I also tweeted!

  • Tony Tabares July 26, 2011, 4:42 pm

    I love rice. And that purple rice looks delicious. I can’t wait to try it.

  • Gracey D July 26, 2011, 4:54 pm

    Awesome! I would like to try this rice!

  • Liren July 26, 2011, 10:48 pm

    Mmm, purple champorado! Hope to try it soon! @kitchconfidante

  • skip to malou July 26, 2011, 10:54 pm

    i;ve never had any of these varieties to tell you frankly. It would be wonderful if I win haha!

  • kurara July 27, 2011, 12:48 am

    anything for rice! woohoo!

  • Joe July 27, 2011, 8:20 am

    Gimme rice! @joeber9

  • joey July 27, 2011, 9:45 am

    I can’t join but so happy to know you are spreading our rice to new audiences! :) Yay!

  • Raindigger July 27, 2011, 11:01 pm

    I’d really love to try this rice! @raindigger

  • carolineadobo July 28, 2011, 11:50 pm

    Hello Marvin! You know I have not eaten purple rice since Philippines?! Reading your post made me nostalgic.

  • jb July 29, 2011, 6:25 am

    Beth, IRRI is an international research organization. Results are readily available to all participating countries and not stolen. Unfortunately, the Phil. government has no effective program (nor infrastructure) to enable small farmers to expand their business.

  • Ronald Almiron July 29, 2011, 1:01 pm

    Please enter me in this awesome rice giveaway! @celsior

  • Coco aka Opera Girl July 29, 2011, 3:39 pm

    Mm, this rice sounds delicious! @operagirlcooks

  • Vange July 29, 2011, 9:38 pm

    I’m the Rice President. Please send me the fabulous periwinkle colored grains! @vlacuesta

  • rita_n July 31, 2011, 12:52 pm

    how interesting! i never knew there are purple-colored rice. indeed, such an heirloom!

  • Jocelyn Uy August 1, 2011, 2:52 pm

    This sounds AMAZING! I’m sure my mom would love to try this in her recipes! @j0cey

  • Kelly August 1, 2011, 5:22 pm

    This Filipino household loves rice, we have his and hers rice cookers! @mmestagalong

  • Gen August 1, 2011, 10:38 pm

    I would love to try this rice.

  • Shalimar Z August 1, 2011, 11:05 pm

    Love to try this! – @shortyshaly

  • bryant August 1, 2011, 11:08 pm

    #pinoy pride! enter me to win please! – @riceyisnicey

  • angie August 2, 2011, 6:27 am

    woohoo! just in time! following along and tweeting about burnt lumpia at @onecatperperson!

  • Chito August 2, 2011, 6:28 am

    It’s called pirurutong in Tagalog and used mainly for desserts like puto bumbong.