I first moved “way up north” in 1986. The first thing running through my mind during the eight hour drive north was getting these trees out of here – I need to SEE. For hours on end, the highway is lined by trees on either side. This was very hard to take as a flat land, prairie girl. Now the opposite is true. I go “down south” to visit family and wonder how they can survive without trees and lakes.
By Tracy Wheeler-Anderson (click here for profile)
Not truly isolated – you get to Cranberry Portage on paved highway; we are half an hour from Flin Flon, an hour from The Pas, and fifteen minutes from the airport. We are however 7 ½ hours north of Winnipeg. At times the distance is daunting….medical appointments, concerts, etc., but the trade-off is no doubt worth it.
When first venturing out with Bob he loved seeing his north through a new set of eyes. There is no doubt, that like everything in life, you start to take what you have for granted. We live in one of the only places left in the world where you can dip your cup in the water and take a drink. The water line runs directly from our house to ‘our’ lake. A small paper filter is the only purifying our water gets. It has been tested over and over again and the results are amazing. Even in this day and age our water is free of pollutants. Our beautiful Lake Athapapaskow is 235 feet deep and has some of the world’s best trout fishing. We do love the challenge of catching the big one and catch and release when possible.
Ice fishing. Bombardiers in the background, happy kids in the foreground.
Growing up on a farm I do know that harvest time is go time. It often means we don’t see Bob for days on end. Some of our lakes are as far away as three hours from our home. “The boys” stay in a camp for the days required to complete the harvest. All of our children have taken their turn helping with the harvest. It is
very labour intensive and is not as mechanized as other farming. Bob and his brothers started their farming careers about 30 years ago. In order to farm wild rice, you lease lakes from the government and off you go. Over the years ‘the boys’ have perfected and helped invent the perfect harvest machine. Our airboats glide over the lakes and plants leaving all intact. The wild rice stalk, up to 9 feet in length blossoms, then matures into grains of wild rice (a misnomer as it is actually a member of the grass family). As with all farming, we are dependent on Mother Nature. Water depths, warm weather and winds are the uncontrollable factors. Raw bags of wild rice get handled up to 10 times before reaching the processing plant. The finished rice is in 50 pound bulk bags and is ready to eat.
Becoming certified organic is no easy feat. Despite the fact that all of our lakes are surrounded by boreal forest, water intact and runoffs have to be tested. Many lakes further south cannot be certified organic as they are adjacent to farmer’s fields or pastures. The runoff from these pollutes the lakes to where they can no longer be deemed ‘organic’. Anderson Brothers Wild Rice is certified organic, Naosap Harvest is certified organic and our processing plant is certified organic. All of this to ensure a premium product.
If you haven’t tried Naosap Harvest – Organic Wild Rice yet, give it a try. You may be very surprised at its versatility and taste. You no doubt will be impressed with its quality and nutrition.
Tracy is a member of the Harvest Moon Local Food Initiative. A grassroots organization working to create a sustainable local food system in Manitoba. Click here to get involved. Click here to buy food.
Facts you need to know:
* 2 pounds of rice = approximately 6 cups of raw wild rice
* 1 cup raw wild rice = approximately 3 cups of cooked wild rice
* One 2 pound bag of wild rice = approximately 18 cups of cooked wild rice
As wild rice triples itself – it is not as costly as most think.
When cooking – remember the 3:1 ratio. Always three cups liquid (whether water, broth, seasoned water) to one cup of wild rice.