Wild rice is North America’s only native grain. In fact, the grain is not technically rice but an annual water grass seed, zizania.
In the U.S., wild rice is both hand harvested and cultivated. Harvesting wild rice for thousands of years, the Ojibwe Native Americans call wild rice ‘manomin,’ or good berry, it grows in rivers and lakes and is harvested by canoe and flail sticks.
Since the 1950s’s wild rice has been cultivated and the U.S. state of Minnesota is the world’s largest producer of cultivated wild rice, with an annual output of 5-10 million pounds. Wild rice is also grown in the U.S. state of Wisconsin and Canada.
Wild rice and other Native American goods are growing in popularity in France. However, a Native American News and Arts site, thecirclenews.org, reports that products being marketed as Native American in France are sometimes fakes, including black Indonesian rice being marketed as North American wild rice. Efforts are underway to properly market wild rice in France, but have been dampened by the tribal electoral cycle, according to the site.