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PATH Adapts Fake Rice to Take on Malnutrition

More than a decade ago, a creative Bellingham father-and-son duo invented some Vitamin-A fortified fake rice (basically rice pasta, shaped like a grain) but couldn’t sell it.

So they donated it to Seattle-based PATH, which added some more nutrients in the hope of using it to combat global malnutrition.

Map of Child Stunting

World Health Organization

Child Stunting Indicates Rate of Country Malnutrition

PATH also ran into some problems selling the product, which they dubbed Ultra Rice. It was (and is) slightly more expensive than regular rice and the target population was the world’s poorest people. It also didn’t help that Ultra Rice didn’t quite taste or look right.

Additionally, PATH soon discovered it was better to license the product to in-country manufacturers rather than try to handle distribution itself.

Today, as recently reported in the Seattle Times, Ultra Rice may now be ready to finally take off with a snap, crackle and pop. As the story by my friend and colleague Kristi Heim documents, there are still some potential hurdles.

But it’s a great story of how a simple idea and a good measure of perseverance can pay off to help solve one of the world’s biggest harms to children.


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.