Fresno, CA – Hoard your sticky rice and buy as many Hmong sausages as you can. There’s going to be a shortage of both this summer.
According to Daniel Lin, Assistant District Manager of U.S. Ameritrade Company, one of the leading distributors of Asian grocery and food service products situated in Haywire, California, rice is at an all time low. “Our rice fields in California have suffered these past couple of years,” says Lin. “Drought, worker’s strikes, and the occasional loony old grandma who pulls out all our rice plants and puts in dried out lemon grass stalks.” Lin shrugs. “It hasn’t been easy.”
That would be an understatement. Last year’s harvest of sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice or sweet rice, brought in a total of 10 metric tons of the crop, a decrease of 58% by the prior year’s standards. As for this year’s harvest? A measly two tons. Leading experts in the field predict that by 2016, sticky rice will be sold at $500/bushel and retail at $75/bag of 25 pounds.
“I secretly bought ten bags of sticky rice to put in my pantry at home,” admits Lin. “Otherwise my wife will kill me if I can’t bring any home later this year.”
Even worse than the rice shortage, however, is the impending Hmong sausage shortage. Leading expert in the field of Hmong sausages is Dr. Tong Lee, who contends that the two leading companies of Hmong sausages have both suffered incredible losses this past year.
“It’s crazy,” says Dr. Lee. “I’ve never seen two Hmong companies who make similar products lose so much profit so fast. They’re not within the same region so they’re not even competitors.”
Plain of Jars and Meats Ltd is the leading brand of Hmong sausages on the West Coast, while Mighty Meat Market takes control of the Midwest. Both are well out of each other’s way, yet despite their vast control of their respective regions, both companies have seen failing product sales and poor customer turnout.
Says Dr. Lee, “I was exhorted to keep this quiet but one of the companies, I can’t say which one but it used to sell a lot of sausages here in Fresno, is going bankrupt and will be closing shortly. As for the other sausage company, I can’t say.”
It’s quite a blow to those of us who love buying sticky rice and sausage at Hmong soccer tournaments. That staple dinner of rice and meat, accompanied by a spicy chili sauce, will soon disappear from the menus that thousands of people have come to love and crave.
In the meantime, Dr. Lee advises, be prepared for substitutes at Hmong tournaments. “I’ve heard rumors among my associates that vegan tofurky companies, which have been declining ever since the Redding/Veganite lawsuit, has agreed to sell their products at cheap prices to Hmong tournament vendors. So this summer we’ll probably be eating vegan sausages.”
As for the Hmong sausage and sticky rice shortage, is there any hope of avoiding it?
“Just pray,” says Dr. Lee, “even if you’re not religious. Maybe the god of sticky rice and sausage will hear us and help us avoid this shortage.” ■