MANOMIN…. RIZ SAUVAGE…. WILD RICE
Wild Rice is an aquatic cereal grain that grows “wild” in isolated lake and river bed areas located primarily within the continent of North America. It is also native to ecologically similar regions located on the continent of Asia. This evolutionarily ancient grain has been found in layers of the earth dating back some 12,000 years. In addition to its role as an important food staple for ancestral peoples, it has provided a unique habitat for fish and waterfowl for thousands of years..
In North America, the species, Zizania palustris, is found (primarily) in areas west and north of the Great Lakes. In addition, there are several other species that grow in limited quantities in other North American locations. Zizania aquatica is found growing in isolated pockets from New Jersey to Florida. And, Zizania texana is found growing in the San Marcos River area located just north of San Antonio, Texas. Also, the species, Zizania latifolia can be found growing in various regions of Asia.
LAKE, RIVER and FARM GROWN VARIETIES of WILD RICE
Each year, U. S. lake & river producers harvest approximately 0.5 million pounds of the “wild” varieties of Wild Rice.
In addition, Canadian lake & river producers harvest roughly 3.5 million pounds of the “wild” varieties of Wild Rice.
Combined totals of these “wild” varieties harvested each year amount to roughly 4 million pounds.
In the early 1960’s, “cultivated” or “farm grown” varieties of Wild Rice were developed in the United States for the purpose of expanding markets internationally. In 1999, U. S. farmers grew approximately 18 million pounds of the “cultivated” or “farm grown” varieties. Commercial production of “cultivated” or “farm grown” varieties has also been established and developed in Hungary and Australia.
Global Wild Rice production each year, which includes both the “wild” varieties and the “cultivated” or “farm grown” varieties, is now approximately 23 million finished pounds.
A GRAIN of MANY DIFFERENT NAMES and MEANINGS….
TO MANY DIFFERENT CULTURES
At about the time early Europeans first settled around the Great Lakes area of North America, the Indigenous inhabitants already living there called the “wild” varieties of lake and river Wild Rice by many different names….names such as Manomin, Mahnomen and Manoomin. These various names have different meanings depending on one’s cultural interpretation. Early French explorers called it Riz Sauvage (wild rice) or Folles Avoines (wild oates).
By whatever name, many of the Indigenous Peoples of North America consider the “wild” varieties of lake and river Wild Rice to be “A Gift from the Great Spirit….the Creator Himself”, spiritually sacred and therefore distinct from the “cultivated” or “farm grown” varieties.
Today, the “wild” varieties and the “cultivated” or “farm grown” varieties of Wild Rice remain an especially important crop for both lake and river producers and modern day farmers.
A GRAIN of CHOICE
Wild Rice has often been called “The Caviar Of All Grains”. This sweet tasting nutty textured seed is the “Grain of Choice” for those who enjoy creating very special dishes. It is one of the most versatile and flavorful grains known to exist in the world today.
SEE and TASTE the WILD RICE DIFFERENCE
Whether lake and river Wild Rice, or farm grown, each Wild Rice Supplier and IWRA Member has a very special story to share with you. Each story is unique as told by the individual storyteller in their own words! And so, welcome to the International Wild Rice Association.