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Can Cauliflower Be ‘Rice’? Some States Say No.

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Riced cauliflower has gained popularity as part of low-carbohydrate and paleo diets.

In the rice industry’s worst nightmare, a harried customer enters the grocery store. A representative from the trade group USA Rice says he envisions a single parent who’s shopping quickly: He or she might go to the frozen food aisle, grab a package of fried rice, and check out before realizing that the worst has happened: That rice is not rice at all. 

Touting a version of this scenario, at least four states have passed or are considering measures to ban food companies from using the word “rice” unless the product is made of, well, rice. Louisiana’s measure, which passed the state Senate last week, targets cauliflower rice in a bid to protect the state’s rice industry (and its top agricultural export). USA Rice supports these measures, arguing that since the grain has no national “standard of identity”—a Food and Drug Administration definition for foods—rice is vulnerable to attacks from its cauliflower competitors.

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