Rice cultivation is considered to have begun simultaneously in many countries over 7 000 years ago. Two varieties of rice were domesticated: Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and African rice (Oryza glaberrima).
Oryza sativa was adapted to farming in Europe: in Spain, Italy and then France.
The Camargue region -Camarga in Provençal- is a territory located in Southern Provence, between the two arms of the Rhone river and the Mediterranean Sea.
It is a region with very strong traditions, where horses and bulls are bred together next to wild pink flamingos, where rice is cultivated next to salt marshes.
Since the 14th century, rice has been cultivated in Camargue taking advantage of the ideal climate.
More than 200 rice fields are cultivated in Camargue producing 90 000 tons of paddy rice (non husked).
It is a dynamic and qualitative production guaranteed by the creation of labels and the development of organic farming.
Organic red rice total production in Camargue (4 000 tons) / Rice total production (90 000 tons) = 4%
Rice growing is a major economic asset for the protection of Camargue’s ecosystem. Without the supply of fresh water from the Rhone, necessary for rice cultivation, this area would have become a salted desert, because water from the sea would invade the groundwater.
Well known in Camargue, Red Rice is a whole grain rice that is naturally red due to natural pigments contained in its hull.
It is said that it was discovered at the foot of the Montmajour Abbey (2km from Arles), where red ears of rice grew in traditional rice fields.
This variety occurred due to a natural mutation that occurred without any human intervention
At crop time, rough rice is called paddy rice. The rice kernels are encased in an inedible, protective hull which must be removed.
The hulls can be recycled and used as fuel or turned into mulch, abrasives, animal feed and other products.
Rice is then kept in grain elevators where it is cleansed, and dried because, at crop time, it still contains 18% to 25% water.
Rice from which only the hull has been removed becomes whole grain rice. It is the rice rich in fibers.
It may be cooked and eaten
as it or milled into white rice. The light brown color is due to the presence of the bran layers.
Brown rice requires longer cooking time than regular-milled white rice (35 minutes compared to 10 minutes), which explains why the majority of people eat white rice.
One of these rice farmers, Serge Griotto, is the son of the discoverer of red rice:
“ My father noticed in the middle of a rice field two ears, that were longer than the others. He cut them and cultivated them and 10 years later, the first production was ready for consumers”.
See all the Red Rice products