R is for Rice

(male speaker) R is for rice. Rice was the most important colonial export
commodity from South Carolina.
In fact, it was so important that the emperors of China
wanted it, ordered it, and ate it. ‘Carolina Gold’ rice is known the world over
and is the most important rice crop because it set the standard worldwide
for quality in long-grain rice. Because the rice itself was revolutionary
in its quality, it maintained the top of the European rice
market and also in Indonesia and Asia
for over 150 years beginning in 1700 and continuing to our Civil War.
The rice reputation for Carolina rice was so pervasive on the planet
that it even was the name of long-grain rice around the world
up until at least 1920. And they were still calling long-grain rice
around the world “Carolina rice” up until the ’50s.
To make rice to eat, first you grow it. Then you harvest it,
and it was harvested by hand early on. Then you take it to the threshing barn and
thresh it. They used flail threshers here,
which were canes with sticks on top and ropes. They beat the rice to get the grains off the
stalks. Rice, like a sunflower seed,
has a hull and the inner kernel that we eat. The way they hulled the rice was to take a
cypress stump, then take a cypress pounder,
a long stick with a big, blunt end, and put rice in the hole in the stump and
pound it, and the hulls break.
Then you take a fanner basket, toss the rice in the air with the hulls.
The hulls are light. They blow away in the air, and the rice comes
back. Those farms that studied this sustainable
horticulture combined the most elegant African rotation
systems that are still prevalent
in primitive Africa today in agriculture with modern European farming methods for rice.
That rotation became known as the sun cycle rotation for rice horticulture
and was maintained on the coast all the way up till the Civil War.
Rice belongs to South Carolina. It’s part of our culture.

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