Big knives and sheets of seaweed were flying as some state lawmakers, and one cabinet secretary, showed off their sushi-making skills to highlight one ingredient and its relationship with California.

The ingredient is rice, and if you eat sushi in Nevada, Nebraska or New Hampshire, you can guarantee the rice comes from California, so it is an important industry.

The sushi rolling competition is part of the California Rice Commission's yearly reception, and it nearly ended with a three-way tie. However, last year's winner, Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, was a pretty good sport when she was just edged out by Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, calling his roll 'not the most impressive, but certainly not the worst.'

Secretary Laird admits his plate needed a little work, but he says the $5 billion industry is not just good for the California economy. The rice growers' dual role as wetlands providers helps the environment.

"I once saw a statistic that the difference between 3 million Canadian geese flying through a year and 7 million flying through a year is the wetlands provided by the rice farmers," Laird said.

The Secretary says now some of these farmers are getting special conservation easements, which helps them preserve the wetlands for the future.

Only one lawmaker was hurt during this contest. Listen and see what happened below: