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“C” is for Carolina gold rice

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“C” is for Carolina gold rice. Carolina gold rice is named for the magnificent golden color of the ripe plants in early autumn. However, so wealthy did it make the early planters of the lowcountry, it could also refer to its financial importance. By the early 1720s rice had become the major crop in the colony. Plantation owners demanded enslaved Africans from the West Coast of Africa, where wetland rice farming was common. They cleared the land, built the elaborate systems of sluices and dykes, harvested the rice by hand, wove the winnowing or “fanner” baskets, and carved the enormous wooden mortars and pestles for hulling. South Carolina was renowned for its rice kitchens with elaborate Creole dishes prepared by accomplished African cooks. From seed to table, Carolina gold was the domain of the enslaved.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.