Zizania Aquatica - Unconventional Rebel rice
This is not rice! Meet Zizania Aquatica, or 'wild rice' – the ancient grain making a comeback. With its red-brown to black color and hazelnut-tea flavor profile, it's a taste of the past that's too good to forget.
"Zizania Aquatica has earned its place among the WWF's prestigious list of 50 foods of the future, recognized for its efficient use of natural resources and compelling nutritional profile," state the founders of Rebel Grains. They were the trailblazers in introducing this superfood to Italy, elevating it from a niche product to a household staple through widespread distribution in major retail outlets and integrating it into the Italian culinary tradition of rice consumption. However, it's important to note that this herbaceous plant, often mistakenly labeled as "wild rice," bears no relation to the famed cereal. In fact, one of its marketing slogans boldly declares, "This is not rice," aimed at piquing the curiosity of Italian consumers. – Fruitbook Magazine
Zizania aquatica plants are 1 to 3 meters tall and feature a large cluster of open flowers. Its grains are about a centimeter long, have an elongated shape, and a chewy outer sheath with a tender inner grain. Unlike regular rice, Zizania won't let you overcook it, and it stays fresh in the fridge for up to 5-6 days. But what sets it apart nutritionally? This aquatic cereal boasts 100% more protein and 300% more fiber than your average white rice, making it a gut-friendly choice. Plus, it's low on the glycemic index and keeps you feeling full with just a small portion.
Zizania isn't just a treat for your taste buds; it's a boon for the environment too. Unlike traditional rice, it's sown in winter, reducing water usage, and benefiting biodiversity. Specifically, wild rice requires very little water to grow and develops very quickly and in height, ideal for combating drought and deforestation caused by agriculture. No wonder it's earned a spot among the WWF's 50 foods of the future!
"The trends in the market clearly indicate a significant growth in plant-based diets, fostering a more balanced and mindful approach to nutrition," continues the company. "This shift is largely driven by younger generations who prioritize environmental sustainability, consumer health, and a preference for plant-derived ingredients. In line with this evolving dietary landscape, Rebel Grains is committed to developing products aligned with the plant-based, health-conscious, and protein-rich movement, which resonates with a growing segment of consumers. Our goal is to transform once niche products into mainstream offerings, catering to the changing preferences of today's discerning consumers." – Fruitbook Magazine
And when we talk about the future, actually we talk about the past. Did you know that since the 1900s, some 75 % of plant genetic diversity has been lost as farmers worldwide have left their multiple local varieties and landraces for genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties? (Source: FAO)
Rebel Grains is committed in diversifying the cereal food market. Bossi, co-founder of Rebel Grains, explains their decision to start by sowing wild rice. "Currently, about 60 percent of the plant-based calories consumed by humans come from just three cereals. It's evident that this leads to a depletion of our ecosystem. Our challenge is to bring cereals and their derivatives to tables, supermarket shelves, and restaurants at affordable prices for everyone. These are cereals that either didn't exist or were only available in niche stores at high prices." - La Repubblica
As we embark on this journey to revive forgotten cereals, we're not just filling our plates; we're contributing to a sustainable future. Join us in this future-proof choice and let's diversify our crops for a healthier planet and a happier palate!