The wild rice industry is central to the economy of the North Saskatchewan region. Riese's Canadian Lake Wild Rice is the largest independent grower of wild rice in the province. The company combines its efforts with other mostly Indigenous harvesters who supply 75 per cent of the wild rice. Within this co-operative relationship Riese promotes premium quality at all levels to maintain an authentic wholesome image.
"We've expanded over the years," working cooperatively with Bands like Peter Ballantyne, Meadow Lake Tribal Council Bands, and La Ronge Band to name a few," says Lynn Riese, "We have our own processsing plant in La Ronge. I buy from the other producers in the region. Many of the producers are independent entrepreneurs, they buy their own machinery, and this means a variety of sources deliver harvests for Riese's Canadian Lake Wild Rice."
La Ronge Band divested of equipment by putting machines in the hands of independents. Canoe Lake Band has their own machines. The boats and harvesters are everglade designs, boats built by different manufacturers over the years. The design has been a special boat unique to northern Saskatchewan. "It's as efficient as we can get with these machines."
Harvests generally begin in mid-August and run for a few weeks, sometimes it comes earlier. "Sunny weather would help," says Riese, "We call it the caviar of grains, prized for its appealing nutty flavour, and picked at the peak of maturity, Riese-Vertmont Canadian Lake Wild Rice is cured naturally, then roasted to give the best possible rich nutty flavour. It is a pleasing complement to a variety of meats, poultry fish or shell fish, and makes a unique addition soups, salads, casseroles, breads or desserts."
The wild rice was transplanted in the Pre-Cambrian Shield in the early 1930s to grow habitat, and today it's found from LaLoche in Saskatchewan all the way to Flin Flon and White Shell, even further to Ontario in the Shoal Lake area. "It's a delicacy, a healthy product that I've been selling for 30 years in Canada, USA, Europe and now Asia for the past eight years."
The rice is therefore not native to the region, "I have to correct people about the origins of the food. It was popular with First Nations in the southern Ontario and northern USA. It was not traditionally a food source for the Cree."
Riese's Canadian Lake Wild Rice is the largest independent producer of lake harvested, certified organic wild rice grown in crystal clear lakes and streams of northern Canada's parkland. "We combine marketing efforts with local native producers to supply our superior quality wild rice to the world. Only quality Grade A Extra Large long grain Wild Rice is promoted under the Riese's Canadian Lake Wild Rice label. We harvest and market authetic O.C.I.A. Certified Organic Lake Harvested Wild Rice. We welcome inquiries that demand the highest standard of quality that Riese's Canadian Lake Wild Rice provides."
The wild rice is sold by the tonne, one metric tonne per pallet, delivered in containers. "It grows naturally, no pesticides in the water, is rice grown naturally in lakes, healthy for the environment, a habitat for muskrats, and other animals," the reason the plant was introduced into the area. "In that way it helps trappers but feeds other animals like ducks, which are plentiful in the north all summer long."
Riese says the harvesting is unlike wheat, "It doesn't ripen all at one time. Harvesters take several passes through the crop, each time filling the tray on the everglade boats, harvested with care at a certain speed, keeping the harvest going by knocking kernels into the tray." The people manning the harvests are working to protect the plant and ecology while running the boats through the rice. It may take up to five passes through the crop.
Riese estimates that harvesters from Alberta to Manitoba, including Metis in Lac La Biche, number about about 400 people working during harvest periods. It's employment in La Ronge once the harvest is complete, "Our plant employees about 24 people when it's open, and it will not open till end of October, depending on quantity. In the meantime I have buying stations in Green Lake, Beauval, and some producers will truck it in themselves."
The price today is maintaining, although Riese says it used to be higher, "Our market is still strong in Europe and Asia, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where they import it from us and they know about our product." A large percentage of Riese's Canadian Lake Wild Rice is distributed to the European market. The sophisticated European consumer insists upon the real thing - lake harvested,certified organic wild rice. The health benefits include high fibre and protein, B vitamins, minerals and low fat. La Ronge Wild Rice, is a specialized rice, environmentally friendly to produce, organic, "in fact ours is certified organic and we sell it that way. Food production companies send inspectors to see our production facilities and our producers."
Only quality Grade A Extra Large long grain Wild Rice is promoted under the Riese's Canadian Lake Wild Rice label. "We harvest and market authetic O.C.I.A. Certified Organic Lake Harvested Wild Rice. We welcome inquiries that demand the highest standard of quality that Riese's Canadian Lake Wild Rice provides."
Canadian Lake Wild Rice blends well with long grain rices, brown or white. It is a pleasing compliment to a variety of meats, poultry, fish or shell fish, and makes a unique addition to soups, salads, casseroles, breads or desserts. hen cooked, the wild rice multiplies to four times its volume. It is prepared by adding 1 cup wild rice to 4 cups water and bringing to a gentle boil and simmering for 50 minutes. Often chefs mix cooked wild rice with other rices for excellent results.
Saskatchewan produces the world's finest wild rice. The long, cool summer days and natural growing environment produce a larger, tastier grain which matures slowly through the summer months, helped only by sun, soil and water. This resulting grain is high in nutrition - with high fibre content and low fat.
When cooked, the wild rice multiplies to four times its volume. It is prepared by adding 1 cup wild rice to 4 cups water and bringing to a gentle boil and simmering for 50 minutes. Often chefs mix cooked wild rice with other rices for excellent results.