Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sustainable Saturday - Carolina Gold Rice

A "Best of" post from 2011.  Since I reran some of this trip in April, it's timely.  And, yes, we picked up more.....

Carolina Gold Rice

My recent trip to Charleston, SC held several pleasant surprises for me.  First and foremost, was our proximity (an easy walk down the narrow sidewalks of the historic Ansonborough neighborhood where we stayed, a walk appreciated by my gimpy back) to the Charleston City Market.

 The Market consists of several open buildings in a four block area. These are the entrances to two of the buildings.
The Market (at least, at this time of year) is not primarily a "farmers market" and not all the goods are locally produced, either.  But we had a wonderful time talking and interacting with some of the local artists, and went back several times.  (note, there are no pictures of those artists or their work.  I would not ever do that without permission, and I know many artists do not want pictures taken.)  If I end up posting photos of some work in the future, it will be of work that I purchased and credit will be given.)

One product that is local, and a revival of a historic heirloom food, is Carolina Gold Rice.

What we bought was grown locally and distributed through Charleston Specialty Foods. The distinctive yellow cloth bags packages of this rice are sold by several vendors at the market, and also are for sale at various historical venues throughout the Charleston area.  As the bag explains:

"In 1685, a distressed merchant ship paid for repairs in Charleston with a small quantity of rice seed from Madagascar.  Dr. Henry Woodward planted the seed in South Carolina, beginning the state's 200 year history as the leading rice producer in the United States."

So why should you pay a lot more for an heirloom variety of rice than the plain old (I won't mention any brand names) stuff you find on the supermarket shelves?

For various reasons, the cultivation of rice had slowed in the South Carolina low country, and much "Carolina Rice" is actually grown outside of the Carolinas.  (2014 update - yes, one of those reasons was the freeing of the slaves after the Civil War was over. It's a fascinating story, which deserves its own blog post.) The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation is attempting a comeback for this rice, and as the bag also explains "We are proud to be South Carolina's first product made with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy."

So how can you go wrong?  In one swoop you encourage the production of heritage foodstuffs, and support renewable energy and sustainable agriculture.

The rice can be ordered online or by calling 1-877-RICE-4-YOU. (and please note I am not being paid for this, or any other, endorsement I may make.)

So, how does it taste?  And what is the rice like?

I would judge it as medium grain.

It's definitely distinctive, and delicious.   Spouse (our family cook) made a pilaf with it.  It came out fluffy, and nice.

(2014 update - it also tastes like butter has already been added to it, especially if you try the white rice, which we bought this time around.)

Have you ever eaten an heirloom rice?


  1. I am a rice looks like you've had a wonderful trip! Lovely photos!

  2. Sounds wonderful, and I am a huge rice fan, but can't eat it due to stomach/gastric issues. But thank you for sharing...I will pass this on.

  3. I've never had an heirloom rice, but I do like rice. Looks like fun!

  4. We are very partial to our heirloom rice, but don't eat it exclusively. Great post!


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