Biodegradable but…

Biodegradable but…

We are trying to find the most environmentally sustainable option that also guarantees product freshness and quality.  We would appreciate your feedback. From paddy field to your table, it’s our aspiration to make the process as health-promoting as possible – for you, the farmers and planet. 

It was customer feedback that made us aware of the need for a better rice cooker. When we go to trade shows we always take rice cookers and prepare samples for buyers and visitors to taste.  Our rice cookers used to be non-stick coated aluminum.  More than half of all cookware sold today is made of aluminum. However, visitors to our booth cautioned us about the health risks associated with both materials.  Aluminum is reactive and foods cooked in it can react with the metal to form aluminum salts associated with impaired visual motor coordination and Alzheimer’s disease, although there is no definite link proven.  Non-stick finishes like Teflon and Silverstone scratch easily and may release little bits of inert plastic into the food when cooked.

They told us that when cooking with aluminum pots, the more pitted and worn out the pot, the greater amount of aluminum will be absorbed, and cautioned  us to minimize food storage time in aluminum — the longer food is cooked or stored in aluminum, the greater the amount that gets into food. In fact, aluminum cookware manufacturers warn that storing highly acidic or salty foods such as tomato sauce, rhubarb, or sauerkraut in aluminum pots may cause more aluminum than usual to enter the food.

DuPont studies show that Teflon off gases toxic particulates at 446°F. At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens. DuPont acknowledges that the fumes can sicken people, a condition called “polymer fume fever.” A study by Environmental Working Group, in collaboration with Commonweal in 2005 found chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of US-born infants including the Teflon chemical PFOA.  Similarly, researchers at John Hopkins Hospital, who released findings in 2006, found PFOA the Teflon chemical, in umbilical cord blood in 99% of 300 newborns tested. The Canadian government is introducing legislation to ban PFOA.

So in order to ensure our customers can prepare our rices in the healthiest cooking environment we came up with a 100% stainless steel rice cooker that has both a rice cooking pot and steaming tray constructed completely out of surgical grade stainless steel 304. Not just a stainless steel coating, and both the cooking pot and steaming tray are 100% recyclable. With the steamer you can make all sorts of tortillas, dumplings, and spring rolls and even shellfish as well as veggies. Cooking with a steamer is a great way to retain nutrients and reduce the temptation to cook with butter and oil.

I personally love to make risotto and usually do not mind standing over the stove stirring the rice over medium high heat and adding broth for about 20 minutes, or until each rice kernel is cooked but still toothsome. But imagine my delight when I recently made a risotto in the rice cooker that was equally delicious with a great texture. I hope you agree. The recipe is at the bottom of today’s blog. Enjoy!

But back to the packaging. One of the best options seems to be a bag from bioplastics. This means that unlike typical plastics made from crude oil, a part of these bags are made from corn. The individual films forming this package are Naturflex™, made from the pulp of sustainably managed tree plantations, and PLA made from GMO corn. They are certified in accordance with ASTM 6400 and EN13432 standards for compostability in industrial or larger scale municipal composting facilities. The drawback is that the corn is GMO corn, and we know that corn producers in the US typically apply large amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which are not only polluting but are derived from non-renewable fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal and oil.

Further, as demand for corn increases for plastics, biofuels and other non-food applications, there is concern that it will put pressure on the price of foods that also rely on corn-based inputs. So, do the advantages of bioplastics outweigh the disadvantages of conventional plastics? By choosing bioplastics, are we merely supporting Big Ag instead of Big Oil? We’d really like to hear from you on this.

Thank you for the opportunity this week to share with you some information about Lotus Foods, our initiatives and concerns about how to help all of us be healthier and contribute to a healthier world.

Rice Cooker “Risotto” With Onions

This is a very simple risotto-style side dish that we make in Lotus Foods Stainless Steel Rice Cooker. We use organic and low sodium Pacific vegetable stock, so you will need to add salt to taste and pepper to taste.


  • 2 Cups Carnaroli Rice
  • 2¼ Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ Cups White Wine
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Stock + 2 cups spring water (for a total of 6c liquid)
  • 1/3 Cups grated parmesan to taste


  1. Add oil to the rice cooker pot, switch to cook
  2. Add onions. Cook until softened, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add rice, stir until it is coated with oil.
  4. Add white wine and stir until wine is absorbed
  5. Add vegetable stock and warm water; stir and make sure rice cooker is switched on cook.
  6. Cover and let the rice cooker cook the risotto. When the cooker switches to warm mode, keep it covered for another 5 minutes to let it finish cooking the rice.
  7. Add parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, stir well, and serve.

OPTIONS to add: you can sauté dried or fresh mushrooms with the onions and/or at the end fold in a sauce such as a ½ cup of Dave’s Gourmet award-winning Butternut Squash Sauce for a richer and more flavorful risotto.

Caryl Levine

Caryl Levine and her husband, Ken Lee, founded Lotus Foods on a mission to help rice farmers around the world earn a living wage and to bring healthier rice choices to families. Lotus Foods’ partners in fair trade with small family farmers who are growing rice sustainably and preserving rice biodiversity.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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