Monday, November 19, 2007

American Rice: Out of Africa
In colonial America, slaves from west Africa made many a plantation owner rich by growing a particular high-quality variety of rice. Now, genetic research suggests the slaves not only supplied the labor and the agricultural skills they'd gained in their home countries but also may have brought the valuable crop with them.

When slaves were brought to the American colonies from west Africa, they often grew various kinds of rice in small gardens to feed themselves. Rice became a cash crop for plantation owners, however, with the advent of a high-quality variety of rice in 1685. The variety came to be known as Carolina Gold, and for good reason. By 1720, rice was South Carolina's most valuable export. But from where did the key cash crop come?