The cultivation of rice in early South Carolina had a tremendous impact on the development of Lowcountry culture and history. It inspired the forced migration of thousands of people from West Africa, created a wealthy elite, and dominated the economy and culture of our state for many generations. In an effort to raise awareness about the local story of this humble grain, I’ve assembled a list of what I consider the most significant facts about Lowcountry rice history that form the basis for our community’s shared heritage:
Ten Things Everyone Should Know about Lowcountry Rice
- Rice defined early South Carolina.
- The origins of South Carolina’s rice are obscure.
- Plantation owners capitalized on African rice knowledge.
- There were two types of rice cultivation: inland rice and tidal rice.
- To control the flow of water on rice fields, enslaved people in South Carolina moved a volume of earth comparable to that of the pyramids in Egypt.
- Rice cultivation was hard work, but it wasn’t all done by hand.
- Rice generated a polarized pair of cultural identities in South Carolina.
- Rice formed a staple part of the South Carolina diet.
- The rice industry in South Carolina continued after the Civil War, and ended before World War II.
- Rice is again being commercially grown in South Carolina.
Listen, savor, and digest. Bon appetit!