Rice: The Changing Nature of the World's Most Important Food


This year, New America celebrates 20 years of creating and incubating the next big ideas that address some of the nation's and the world’s toughest problems. We are thinkers, researchers, problem-solvers, and storytellers, united by our goal to hold our nation to its highest ideals. We recognize the challenges presented by rapid technological and social change, and work to ensure that the solutions made possible by those changes lead to greater opportunity for all. As we reach forward toward the next 20 years of New America, we will strive to be an engine of American renewal, at home and abroad.

Rice is the world’s most important food. It is the main source of calories for more than half of humanity, and its cultivation is the single largest livelihood activity for women globally—500 million mothers and daughters center their lives on it. In much of Asia and parts of Africa, many feel that if one has not eaten rice, one has not eaten.

Today, the survival of rice systems and the people who rely on them are challenged by a range of 21st-century phenomena: climate change and resource scarcity, urbanization and migration. Other crops are threatened by these same forces, but none with such dire consequences as for rice. While wheat and maize are traded across the planet, only 8 percent of rice is exported; the vast majority is eaten by those who grow it. Simply put, rice is the daily sustenance of the world’s poor. Facing this era’s environmental and economic upheaval, how will this plant and the people who depend on it adapt? How will the identities rooted in rice shift? What may be lost?

Join the New America Fellows Program and New America NYC for a conversation with National Fellow Lisa M. Hamilton, James Beard Nominated Chef JJ Johnson, and New York Times Food Reporter Julia Moskin about the unique nature of rice culture around the world and the forces that will impact its cultivation and its consumers.

Registration starts at 6 PM. Brief reception to follow audience Q&A portion of the evening.


Lisa M. Hamilton, @HamiltonLisaM
Class of 2019 National Fellow, New America
Author, Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness

JJ Johnson, @ChefJJ
Chef Partner, Henry at Life Hotel


Julia Moskin, @juliamoskin
Reporter, New York Times Food

Follow the conversation online using #Rice and following @NAFellows.