“Each year in autumn, the Anishinaabeg people take to the lakes of northern Minnesota to harvest wild rice, the only grain native to North America. They travel in pairs: one person to row and the other to gently knock the grains into the bed of the canoe with a long pole. This is how they’ve harvested wild rice for centuries.”– “The Sacred Grain of the Northwest,” Roads & Kingdoms, May 5, 2016
For a while there during 2015 and 2016 I found myself writing a lot about Midwest agriculture, food, and culture. It was a function of my favorite venue at the time, Roads & Kingdoms, a very cool site that also had a great collaboration with Anthony Bourdain that I contributed to. I had been writing about China for them, and to continue the relationship when I moved to Minnesota, I had to find interesting topics to write about that combined culture, food, travel, and social/political issues.
Wild rice in northern Minnesota fit the bill for this story. I had the opportunity to drive north to Bemidji and the Leech Lake reservation a few times to camp, visit some wild rice processors, and learn about the sacred grain from Leech Lake and White Bear Anishinaabeg.
I also ended up campiong for a few days at a Born Again Christian Bluegrass Festival, but that’s another story, to be told another time.
Click here to read the full story, “The Sacred Grain of the Northwoods.”