Every week or just about every week since the start of the Buyers’ Club, HM&F has had the pleasure of supplying a wide variety of fresh fruits & vegetables but has also supplied your weekly box with a cultivated grass known as Oryza sativa or rice in which there are several hundred varieties. Rice is an important part of the culture here, actually pretty much the world over, and then came the realization that there had yet to be quick & dirty post on the history of rice.

It is believed that the rice we commonly eat today originated in India and the Isle of Sunda and would have been introduced into China 3000 years before Christ. Rice has a rich history of traveling West, for example, it was introduced to Sicily by Arabians. Rice, Oryza sativa, was introduced into Virginia by Sir William Berkeley in 1647 and was distributed later in 1694 by a Dutch brig from Madagascar into Charleston, South Carolina for cultivation in which there is currently still the argument that the Carolinas produce the best tasting rice. Why? Most likely the reason rice grows so well there is because of what is referred to as the ‘lowcountry’. The ‘lowcountry’ is naturally occurirng low lying wetland along the coastal South Carolina region from Charleston and south a few hundred miles.

However, rice existed in the Americas long before the introduction of Oryza sativa, it was another type of grass known as Zizania aquatica or wild rice which originates in North America and Eastern Asia. Zizania aquatica is found primarily in swampy borders with shallow water tables, and mucky bottoms. It is believed that it has furnished food from the early times to the Indians who would have most likely gathered the seeds and made them into bread which would make sense because there are no known wild species of Triticum, wheat, that exist in North America but there was however corn and rice which are still the number one and number two food commodities respectively followed by wheat.

The flour that the Zizania aquatica could have offered would a been instrumental in terms of survival because of sugars, carbohydrates, and storage for consumption at a later date. Research has shown an arce of wild rice is comparable to an acre of wheat in terms of nutritional content. Wild rice is high in protein and dietary fiber which would be another reason for its importance in the diet. Wild rice is gathered by pushing the canoe against the stems and shaking the heads over the boat.  Bet you didn’t know that the red rice you find in the Cajun Grain Brown Jasmine is a naturally occurring wild rice. Wild rice has  been as much a part of history not only here in Louisiana but has been a main staple for cultures the world over and by eating wild rices (there are several varieties of those as well) you are actively participating the culture and its history.

This coming Tuesday, tomorrow, some the staff from HM&F will be accompanying the Food Network to cook up some fresh tasty wild rice.  We’ll keep you updated!

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