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john hawks weblog

paleoanthropology, genetics and evolution

Photo Credit: Brian Jimenez via Unsplash

Link: Finding the lost rice of the American South

The New York Times has a fascinating story about a lost strain of rice that once was widely grown by slaves and freedmen in the South: “Finding a Lost Strain of Rice, and Clues to Slave Cooking”.

Mr. Dennis had heard about hill rice — also known as upland red bearded rice or Moruga Hill rice — through the culinary organization Slow Food USA and the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, the group that brought back Carolina Gold in the early 2000s. He’d also heard stories about it from elderly cooks in his community. Like everyone else, he thought the hill rice of the African diaspora was lost forever.
But then, on a rainy morning in the Trinidad hills in December 2016, he walked past coconut trees and towering okra plants to the edge of a field with ripe stalks of rice, each grain covered in a reddish husk and sprouting spiky tufts.
“Here I am looking at this rice and I said: ‘Wow. Wait a minute. This is that rice that’s missing,’” he said.

I love the human stories in food, and the way that our commensal organisms and crops can tell the stories of people who may have left little or no written legacy.