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Our Wild Rice story

Ben Belty

Wild Rice is a food that has piqued my curiosity for many years. As a boy, I spent my summers at Rice Lake, Ontario named the "rice bowl" of the continent by the indigenous people. At the time I wondered, “If this place is called Rice Lake, Where is the rice?”.  I can recall seeing Wild Rice for sale at a vendor on a reservation near the area- though my family was not interested in purchasing- I was intrigued. As it turns out several years later I was reconnected with Wild Rice at a Food Co-op. I was eager to try it. I connected the dots and realized this must have been what Rice Lake was named after. I purchased this product but was met with disappointment. What I had purchased was actually hybridized “paddy rice”. I tried soaking this rice and cooking it for very long periods but I never found it to be a very enjoyable food. Fast forward a few years and I became interested in learning more about wild plants and wild food so I found myself studying at The Delta Institute in Maine. I was served Wild Rice that was harvested by the teacher of the class. I was instantly surprised at how much different it was than what I purchased previously at the grocery store. At that point I began learning more about the plant to find out how I could bring this food into my life as a staple.

As it turns out it was native to most of the North East, Great lakes region, Midwest of the United States and South-central Canada on over to the Eastern coast of Canada. Unfortunately it no longer grows in most of the more southern areas it was once native to- mostly due to colonization of the land for capital uses that flooded waterways and changed the land faster than what the plant could catch up with. This is due to the fact that Wild Rice requires water of a certain depth and current speed in order to flourish. I realized I was not going to be able to harvest this myself so I began searching out other options. There are many harvesters and producers of Wild Rice in this country and there are several websites that can connect people producing value added wild rice products with those who want to purchase them. So I began trying different producers. Some of the companies and individuals that are selling Wild Rice are actually selling True Wild Rice product but most are not. Some are marketing paddy rice as wild and selling it as is or alongside real Wild Rice. As I tried different brands of Wild Rice I began to notice some serious quality differences. That is why I have started this company. I am bringing to the market the most delicious and nutritious Wild Rice and other wild foods. I pledge to sell single origin products with best practices in mind. You can be sure that all of our products will be harvested in a manner that honors the land and ensures that these organisms can continue to spread and thrive. Our mission is to help spread these native species so that once again our land can manifest the biodiveristy it once had.