Was rice eaten in colonial, antebellum & overall American History?

Oct 2017
America ??
For that all that long & extensive rice industry in American history, only ceasing in the early 20th century, where on earth did all that rice go? Export to Europe? Even the there’s barely any mentioning of it in Europe! Rice isn’t a food associated with western culture & history. In fact is it just me or is it that even at the end of the millennium 20 years ago now, before this recent globalisation got this big with the internet, social media & cheaper travel, rice was still viewed as an exotic Asian food by most westerners, aren’t I right?

Did Americans ever make & drink rice milk like Asians have?

Did Americans make extensive use of rice other than food like Asians have, like tools, furniture & clothing? Think of Asian straw hats & mats for one thing, even huts are made of rice.

Did slaves as least made extensive use of rice in their already deprived lives & environments?


Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
an exotic Asian food by most westerners,
Well... I don´t know what exotic was for a Polish, a Norgewian etc.... I ´ve eaten rice all my life... and Rice crops in my country.... from Medieval Age.... I guess... and the same about Portugal....and I imagine also for the others big empires.... Dutch, French, British...

Rice was sent to America by Spaniards y Portuguese... there are rice in America from 16th Century... the "american rice" didn´t come from Asia.. but from West Africa.
In USA... the first place with rice was (logically) FLORIDA, then GEORGIA and then SOUTH CAROLINA. But of course.... Rice in USA is not the oldest rice in North America... before Florida.. Spaniards planted rice in Yucatan, Tabasco, Hispaniola and Cuba....

African were vital for the rice culture in North, Central and South America. I think rice cultivation, processing and preparation represent a significant form of knowledge established by slaves in the Americas. The importance of rice in African kitchen survives even today in the recipes of memory and cultural identity across American (not a country but a continent) black world.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
Rice was used in European, US, and Latin American cooking in different ways than in Asia. As mentioned, African rice was grown, and there was no connection to Asian culture.

Rice was grown in coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Initially most of it was exported to Europe. It was grown mostly by slaves from rice growing areas of west Africa. The mortality rate was extremely high for the slaves working in swampy conditions. The climate was more hazardous to whites, so often slave overseers were used. Blacks retained more of African language and culture in that Gullah area than elsewhere in the US.


Forum Staff
Feb 2009
Eastern PA
Rice has been exclusively used as a food product in the US. It probably did not expand into other applications such as you cited because alternatives were readily available.


Forum Staff
May 2013
Albuquerque, NM
Rice, Indigo, and tobacco were the the cash-crops of the British colonial efforts in the southern part of N. America. The northern colonies exported molasses and salted fish. The best market for molasses was to the British East Indies where it was transformed into rum. The rum then was imported to the Colonies, and traded to African Slavers. The wind and Atlantic currents made a stable trading protocol. Slaves from Africa to the Barbados with molasses, tea and other luxury goods. Rum and slaves then North to the southern colonies, before continuing up the coast to New England where rum, rice, indigo, tobacco and the "luxury" imports were traded for dried fish and rice to feed the poor in England, rum for her taverns, indigo for dyes for the developing Industrial Revolution, and timber to build the Royal Navy who protected the circular trade route.
Oct 2017
America ??
No, it wasn't Asia.
But they’re not hard to make at all, many rice dishes & tools are very simple to make & are a no brainer. Rice milk & cakes are essentially boiled & baked rice paste & water at their most basic. All you really need is rice, & a bit of curiosity & versatility or creativity, & perhaps a bit of hunger as well. Americans historically had more than plenty of rice as well as hunger, perhaps less of versatility & creativity, who knows haha.