Wild Rice Harvesting and Processing with Black Duck

WildRice Harvesting and Processing with Black Duck

Asthe world population increases, the demand for food has drasticallyincreased. This has caused communities to engage in farming ofgrains, including rice to ensure adequate food is available. BlackDuck rice has recently been grown in various places based on itssimple farming methods, and it only requires adequate water for itsmaturity. In Kawartha Lakes Region, I noted that wild rice is thestaple food stuff and is also a major product in restaurants’ menu.Visitors to the region are a major target of the rice sellers. Theunique processing method applied by rice facilities makes the BlackDuck wild rice to have a fresh and nutty flavor that makes it afavorite food for local consumers. Food sovereignty refers to theright of people to culturally access safe and healthy food which isproduced by proper methods. The sovereignty is mostly depicted byfarmers and indigenous people who are affected by poverty and hunger.With the number of few wealthy farmers controlling huge riceplantations, poor farmers use food sovereignty to reclaim their powerand participation in the food system.

Inmy trip to Pigeon Lake, I experienced how food sovereignty hasimpacted on food production and distribution. James Whetung has beengrowing wild rice in Pigeon Lake for many years which he distributesthrough his firm known as Black Duck Wild Rice. As one of 250 lakesin Kawartha Lakes, Pigeon Lake provides a good destination forrecreational boating, fishing and summer getaways. Whetung control ofthe lake has left the cottages unhappy since it was affectingboating. On his part, Whetung argues that he has the right to growand harvest the rice as required by aboriginal treaty. Despite thelocal community experiencing low food supply, I noted that Whetungcontinued to increase wild rice in the lake and sold it commercially.Lack of involving the local farmers and residents of Pigeon Lake, wasan indication that he was focused on dominating wild rice productionand exploit the local people. Instead of supplying the localcommunities and fellow First Nations people with the rice and solvetheir food problems, he takes it to Peterborough traders and sells itto wineries.

Theproblems being experienced in Pigeon Lake were also common in otherregions. The concentration of power enables few organizations andindividuals to dictate tough conditions which are major obstacles tofair food distribution globally. To deal with such domination,communities are now involved in food sovereignty to ensure they takepart in food production, distribution and benefit from the revenueafter it is sold. Formation of movements and community group hasbecome a major strategy to limit the food power by some individuals.In Canada`s Pigeon Lake the Woods and cottage owners formed the SavePigeon Lake group to ensure that Whetung power over wild rice wasminimized (Peterson, 2011). Food scarcity has become a majorchallenge in third world countries not just because of poortechnology, but also due to the control of farming activities by fewfarmers. The few farmers are not providing skills to local farmers offarming methods. However, in Mississauga Nishnaabeg area, I notedthat Whetung is involved in teaching other farmers on methods of wildrice farming. He also supplies Nishnaabe and Peterborough communitieswith wild rice, thus ensuring local people do not rely on commercialrice from other exploiting farmers.


Peterson,L. (2011).AField Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central NorthAmerica.New York City: Houghton Mifflin Company.