Lost rice found, again

First there was Carolina Gold. Now there is “upland red bearded” or “Moruga Hill” rice.

Mr. Dennis had heard about 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.

It is hard to overstate how shocked the people who study rice were to learn that the long-lost American hill rice was alive and growing in the Caribbean. Horticulturists at the Smithsonian Institution want to grow it, rice geneticists at New York University are testing it and the United States Department of Agriculture is reviewing it. If all goes well, it may become a commercial crop in America, and a menu staple as diners develop a deeper appreciation for African-American food.

And no, they couldn’t have found it in genebanks. This is what Genesys knows from the region. Trinidad is shown by the yellow marker, rice accessions in red. No rice accessions in Genesys from anywhere near Trinidad, alas.

Someone should really have a systematic look at all those red dots, though.

Nibbles: MGIS, DOIs, Lost apples found, Row 7 Seeds, EBN, “Influential” seed people.

  • Banana people release new banana germplasm database, featuring DOIs.
  • Video explaining what DOIs are and why they’re cool.
  • Five apple varieties to get DOIs before it’s too late? Probably not.
  • “A seed company built by chefs and breeders striving to make ingredients taste better before they ever hit a plate.” Whatever next.
  • Occupy the food system.
  • Extension works. In a big way. With agronomy anyway. Think what it could do with seeds…

Nibbles: Wild wheat & rice genomes, Lost American crops, Bread Lab, Tea symposium, Burping cows, Australian botanist, Ecuadorian landrace pics, Red listing, Fermentation PhD, Cheese rind microbes, HRH reception

Nibbles: Sequencing Davos, WPC 2018, German spuds, Martha’s Excellent Adventure, C4F video, Hawaiian varieties, Seed Book

Nibbles: “Millets”, GLF, Agrobiodiversity & resilience, Nepali earthquake, Seed systems, Super beans in Uganda, Cherokee seeds, Potato Park, Italian cook, Ancient turkeys, Linnaean globalization, Wild rice genomes

  • I really don’t like the way a bunch of very different cereals are lumped together as “millets,” but anyway.
  • Mongabay optimistic about climate-smart agriculture after Global Landscape Forum.
  • I guess it must be the resilience.
  • Rebuilding Nepali seed systems after the earthquake. See what I mean?
  • And here’s a primer on innovative seed systems work from ICRISAT.
  • Beans for refugees. Seeds systems at work.
  • Cherokee nation knows what to do to get seeds out there.
  • So does the Parque de la Papa, for that matter.
  • Morocco has truffles? Yep.
  • Ancient turkeys were pets, not food.
  • Linnaeus was a globalist. Not his fault, though.
  • Australian gene-jockey says that Australian wild rice genome could make it easier to grow rice in Australia. Linnaeus, where are you?