There are five corners of the world that are known to hold the secrets to longevity. These regions, known as the world’s Blue Zones, are home to the highest concentrations of centenarians and have been able to avoid many of the deadly diseases that plague much of the United States. Because of their long life spans and low incidents of heart disease, dementia, and cancer, the Blue Zones have become a hot topic of research for many.
One of the most famous Blue Zone researchers is Dan Buettner, the man who founded the Blue Zone Project. Buettner has researched the Blue Zone communities to learn about the habits and practices that keep them living such long lives, and has made it his goal to make these practices accessible to communities that lack in longevity, such as many parts of the U.S.
But while much of the United States struggles to maintain healthy practices, Buettner has been searching for American communities that have already adopted their own longevity-driven ways of living so that he can learn from them and share their habits with the rest of the country.
Recently, this search brought him to the Carolinas, one of the only places that grows some of the world’s healthiest rice: Carolina Gold Rice. But what is Carolina Gold Rice, exactly? And why do people believe it can be a key to longevity?
In 2021, The Today Show and Dan Buettner visited South Carolina to talk with a farmer, Rollen Chalmers, who grew up eating and growing Carolina Gold Rice. And while this rice may hold certain secrets to longevity, it also holds a dark past.
“I lived in this area all my life, hanging out in these swamps, these fields, and marshes,” says Chalmers. “My ancestors, it was all harvested by hand.