America is inherently a place of awe – inspiring heterogeneity rather than mind-numbing homogeneity.

America is inherently a place of awe – inspiring heterogeneity rather than mind-numbing homogeneity. Some of that heterogeneity inevitably includes social, cultural and political counter-currents and much-needed debates regarding how to deal with the disparities and indignities around us.

But that fact alone does not necessarily mean that we are fated to live forever on a battleground where polarizing (if not paralyzing) divisiveness ...

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I want to thank Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, for redressing relationships and healing past wounds.

Some of the most important work being done on our Turtle Island “continent” today is in the realm of what Rowen White calls “seed” rematriation, bringing indigenous crop seeds back home to their motherlands and stewarding cultures that have the deepest ties to these food resources.

A decade ago, I was blessed enough to have coordinated with Leigh Kuwanwisiwma of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office one ...

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My gratitude to all women who taught me more about “community building” within and beyond our own species, than I could ever teach them.

I’ve recently observed that many of the most interesting ecological restoration projects focused on food and medicinal plants are managed by teams of (primarily) women who structure the project’s relationships to local communities in ways far more interesting & effective than the way men have conventionally structured such ecological restoration initiatives.

For instance, herbalists, educators, basketry-makers, soil scientists, landscape designers and individuals of ...

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People are putting aside minor differences and Collaborating on many Social, Ethical, Political, Environmental and Economic Issues.

Going into the New Year, I am overwhelmed by the emerging evidence that many peoples in America are putting aside their minor (but not necessarily petty!) differences and collaborating as a unified front on so many social, ethical, political, environmental and economic issues.

As my friend Phil Caputo recently suggested to me, America has really been divided in a major way since the ...

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Tucson a Model in Food Biodiversity, Report Says

A report on Tucson food systems done by The Center for Regional Food Studies at the University of Arizona shows 14 community organizations make Tucson a leader in conserving food biodiversity.

Gary Paul Nabhan is the founding director of regional food studies at the UA. He said nonprofits like Desert Harvesters are thinking long term.

 

 

“Many of these organizations are, in a sense, sewing our future food security by bringing this diversity into our food ecosystem,” Nabhan said.

Jonathan Mabry is ...

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Consider some affirmative action for life itself with someone with whom you have once suffered strife.

No, its not another New Years Resolution. Its a dream I had last night, that each of us found ourselves planting something: a bulb, a tree, a tuber, a seed, with our hands and the hands of someone else with whom we have had disagreements or distances doing the work for this transplanted life together.

Our hands were in the same earthen opening, ...

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New Report: Tucson is a Leading U.S. City in Food Diversity and Access

Tucson is one of the top cities in the United States conserving and disseminating edible biodiversity and local heritage foods, a new report reveals. Released by the University of Arizona Center for Regional Food Studies, the second annual “State of Tucson’s Food System” documents Tucson’s rich variety of common, heritage, native, and heirloom plant species and varieties available, often at little or no cost, in its local economy.

“This report shows that Tucson’s community organizations have done ...

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Jerry Konanui, the Native Hawaiian expert on kalo and many other traditional plants, has passed.

Jerry Konanui, the Native Hawaiian expert on kalo and many other traditional plants, has passed. He was a bridge between so many kinds of knowledge: Native Hawaiian, Western scientific, agricultural, culinary and visceral.

The last time I was with him, he was patiently instructing young Hawaaians on how to tell variouis varieties of kalo (taro) by the most subtle details of coloration of ...

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Let the starlight and moonlight seep into you and keep you sane, keep you watchful, keep you prayerful, keep you alive.

One of the most common afflictions Americans suffer—and it has increased since the digital age—is myopia. Sitting in front of a screen for three and a half hours a day is not good for our teenagers, or for the matter, the rest of us.

That’s why it was such a joy to be up at two thirty last night watching the spectacular Geminid ...

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We witnessed Alabama electing a candidate that can work with both parties; and I am grateful for their inspiration…

We witnessed Alabambinos bridging the divide last night by electing a centrist candidate a decent man who can work with both parties, and I am grateful for their inspiration. But this is not about feeling victorius, instead it should be humbling to all of us to see any state torn as much as Alabama has been. Same with the amber waves of ...

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UA Report Details Tucson’s Excellence in Providing Food Diversity and Access

A new report on the state of Tucson’s food system – produced by the UA Center for Regional Food Studies – shows that Tucson is one of the top U.S. cities in its high diversity of edible plants affordably accessed, grown and eaten as means to reduce food insecurity.

Marking the December 15 second anniversary of Tucson, Arizona’s designation as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States, the University of Arizona Center for ...

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It’s time to recognize the organizations that have food crops diversity, making 2000+ varieties more widely and affordably available

As Tucson, Arizona comes up on its second anniversary as the first UNESCO – designated City of Gastronomy in the U.S., it’s time to recognize the many organizations that have explored innovative means ensuring that people of all colors have better access food crop diversity, making 2000+ varieties of 340 wild and cultivated species more widely and affordably available:

Pima County Public Libraries’ ...

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We must defend our Waters, Lands, Wildlife Habitats and Biodiversity Hotspots

Conservation professionals & activists are reeling as Donald Trump makes one presidential proclamation after another—from opening the Arctic Ocean to offshore drilling.. to cutting the size of Bears Ears National Monument, to building a wall that will stop the transborder flow of wildlife.

While we must defend our waters, lands, wildlife habitats and biodiversity hotspots, it is critical to know that many conservation ...

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Bridging The Divides

I’ve missed so many of you, your insights and compassion, that I am back after dealing with for weeks with an injured knee, an ailing mother & a half-broken heart. I thank of all you for the many ways you make our world better (more just), healthier, as well as culturally and biologically richer. I need to hear each of your voices, ...

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Mirror Images

Two UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy, located across the world from each other, offer distinct insights on desert terroir.

I am sitting in an outdoor café on a hot summer day. The café, in Zahle, Lebanon, is on the edge of a broad desert valley that stretches out between two mountain ranges, one of them high enough to capture snow every winter and suffer forest fires most summers. Out of the mountains flows enough snowmelt to allow some irrigation from ...

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To Be an Ethnobotanist

Now, being an ethnobotanist

Is not all that different

From being a musician,

Ballerina or chef:

 

You’ve got to practice

Your licks and chops,

Your forms and foot positions

Your dicing, slicing

And making a roux

Every day (or else)

You get rusty.

 

No one I know

Likes a rusty ethnobotanist

One who is constantly hoping

To discover some herbal WD-40

 

So make and take

Some time each day

To go on out

And eat the flowers

Drink their nectars

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The chiltepin pepper has a special home in Santa Cruz County

After enduring a bouncy drive up a rough road heading into the Tumacacori Mountains last Tuesday morning, the group of hikers crossed a shallow rocky canyon on foot. Then, after bushwhacking through spiky desert plants and looking under trees, they found their prize: a single bright red, shriveled chili clinging to a dry chiltepin plant.

The fruit of the chiltepin isn’t always so hard to find at this spot, said Kevin Dahl, an ethnobotanist specializing in desert plants. The ...

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Tortilleria Arevalo’s secret to a healthier tortilla is Peruvian mesquite flour

Esperanza Arevalo wakes up at 3 a.m. every day to make tortillas. She sometimes receives help from her husband and sister-in-law, but for the most part, she’s a one-woman show.

Tortilleria Arevalo started with Esperanza’s father, Javier Arevalo, shortly after 9/11. At the time, Esperanza had just been laid off from her job, so she began helping her father. Years later, when Javier was diagnosed with cancer, Esperanza stepped up and took over the business.

Although making tortillas as a business ...

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Tucson’s seed library fosters food sovereignty in a desert

With help from Pima County’s public libraries, Tucsonans grow urban gardens.

In front of the Joel D. Valdez Main Library in Tucson, patrons can claim round concrete landscaping beds for free and create their own gardens with seeds from the library’s seed collection. Some of the three-foot-wide planters are festooned with exuberant jungles of squash, flowers and trellised bean plants, while others look more Zen garden than vegetable garden.

In addition to books and DVDs, in 2012 the Pima ...

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