Rice is a huge ingredient in the Gullah Geechee diet. Usually not a meal is served without rice being served, even on the side. Our family resembles that statement. Both Tony and I grew up in households that cooked in the Gullah food tradition. We ate rice far more than pasta or potatoes. Rice was eaten with greens in season, crowder peas, black eyed peas, and other vegetables, it was especially delicious with gumbo. Rice was our staple food.
Lately, we’ve taken a greater interest in the history of Carolina Gold Rice, the rice that was grown in many plantations in South Carolina and made the owners wealthy. The rice plantations were designed and maintained by Africans from rice growing countries of West Africa, whose knowledge and skills were targeted in order to develop successful rice farming practices in the southeast states of the United States.
We joined an organization dedicated to the preservation and recovery of rice in our state, the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation. The meetings and field trips they host are a wealth of information. This is an excerpt from their website.
”The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation began with the singular mission of advancing the sustainable restoration of Carolina Gold Rice, and in that it has succeeded wildly, bringing together farmers, scholars, researchers, and historians to ensure that Carolina Gold and the newer hybrid Charleston Gold remain viable crops. The foundation has served as a proselytizing resource, educating the world about the history and significance of this historical crop and helping put it back on dinner plates around the world.
A Timeline of Carolina Gold Rice Facts ―
Rice was established as a cash crop in the 1690s, and Carolina Gold Rice became the preferred variety in the 1780s.
At the time of the Civil War, 3.5 to 5 million bushels of Carolina Gold Rice were grown in South Carolina.
By the time of the Great Depression, Carolina Gold Rice became virtually extinct as other varieties became favored.”
We are connected to a few Gullah farmers and chefs who are working to revitalize Carolina Gold Rice by growing a variety of highland rice that does not require as much water. We won’t have large amounts but enough for educational purpose. We will feature more about rice and other Carolina grains here in our forum.