Articles

Ethnobiology as the Unifying Theory of All Things Biocultural

An interview with Gary Paul Nabhan, editor of the newly-released book, Ethnobiology for the Future, from the University of Arizona Press.

 

Q. What motivated you to put together this anthology on how ethnobiologists are exploring the links between cultural and ecological diversity?

A. I’ve been engaged in cross-cultural research and education through the inter-discipline of ethnobiology for exactly 40 years. Over that time period, we’ve witnessed a dramatic loss of species diversity, habitat heterogeneity, cultural diversity and its ...

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A New Climate for Farming

Interview by Erik Hoffner, World Ark contributor

Feeling the heat yet? The summer of 2015, the hottest in recorded history, melted roads and killed thousands in India and Pakistan. It also prolonged a crippling drought in the American West that triggered controversial water usage restrictions in California. While it can be hard enough for people to cope with these conditions, what about our food systems? How will farmers and gardeners adapt to this harsh new reality?

To answer this question, author and ...

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A Conversation with Gary Paul Nabhan

30 Minutes spoke with Gary Paul Nabhan, Ph.D., about Tucson’s recent designation as a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy and what that means. He is the newly appointed director for Center for Regional Food Studies. Nabhan discussed the breadth of Tucson’s food cultures as well as the importance of food justice and food security for everyone in our community.

Nabhan is the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Southwest Borderlands Food and Water Security,is an ethnobiologist, agroecologist, conservation biologist ...

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My Turn: In search of equality for Arizona farmworkers

Arizona farmworkers are more diverse than you think, and without them, up to a quarter of crops might go unharvested.

 

 

A half century since Cesar Chavez led a national boycott of grapes to highlight the civil rights of farmworkers, the status of both immigrant and native contributors to Arizona’s food system is still in debate. Although Chavez left an indelible mark on our agricultural history, we must look and see how much more equity Arizona’s food system has ...

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What Makes Tucson Deserving of the Title of the United States’ First Capital of Gastronomy

The Arizona city joins Unesco’s growing list of “Creative Cities”

 

 

 

By: Jennifer Nalewicki

Every day, tens of thousands of cars barrel down Interstate 10, a highway that hugs the western edge of Tucson, Arizona. Many of these drivers may not realize that they are driving past a region with one of the longest food heritages on the continent. Often considered the birthplace of Tucson itself, this swath of Sonoran Desert  nestled at the base of the ...

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Agrarian Ecology

One might wonder whether any twenty-first-century preoccupation with agrarian values, agrarian ecology, and agrarian ideals comes as too little, too late. Less than 2 percent of the North American public lives in rural areas outside towns, cities, and suburbs, and less than half of the world’s population now lives outside cities. But the New Agrarianism, which is emerging globally, is not restricted to the rural domain, nor is it necessarily a romantic desire to reenact social behaviors and mores associated ...

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UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Launches New Center for Regional Food Studies

From agricultural sciences to folklore, cutting-edge nutrition to ancient food systems, UA researchers have a long history of researching, documenting and promoting the borderland culinary heritage that makes Tucson a distinct food city. To coincide with Tucson’s designation as the newest UNESCO City of Gastronomy, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Southwest Center have established the University of Arizona Center for Regional Food Studies. The new center will advance food justice, food security and food systems innovations ...

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Tucson Designated UNESCO World City of Gastronomy

Tucson becomes the first city in the United States to be recognized as a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy.

By: Megan Kimble / EBA

We’ve known it—those of us who eat here have tasted it. We’ve felt it in the soil under our fingernails. We’ve seen it in the magenta stain of prickly pear. We’ve heard it in the hammer mill grinding sweet speckled mesquite; smelled it in the exhale of steam from a crowded pot of tamales.

Tucson has always ...

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The Road to UNESCO – Tucson ambitiously seeks to be recognized as the first creative city for gastronomy in the country—but is it realistic?

By Heather Hoch

The winding, rocky road up to Gary Nabhan’s Patagonia home is definitely not suited for a sedan. It gets pretty hairy a couple of times while creeping up the path going just a few miles per hour upward, but there, at the top of a hill with a beautiful vantage of a couple local farms, is Nabhan’s rustic Southwestern home. The irony is that, in trying to figure out what makes Tucson a gastronomic destination, driving an hour ...

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Desert prophet of new food crops

For 40 years Richard Felger has promoted native plants to feed the Southwest

Richard Felger has always been a little ahead of his time. Even before he was a teenager in southern California, he cultivated rare cacti and orchids at home, and kept three alligators in his bathtub. Before he graduated from the University of Arizona, he shadowed some of the world’s greatest desert ecologists. On his first trip down to Alamos, Sonora, he realized what would drive his ...

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Seeking Food Justice with Forgotten Fruit

Gary Nabhan wants to create new opportunities for immigrant populations in Patagonia while reviving a taste for forgotten desert fruits, and he needs your help.

There are 68 days left to join the effort to save our desert’s forgotten fruits – and create new green jobs in Arizona’s borderland while we’re at it.

The Project

MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award recipient and Edible Baja Arizona senior contributing editor Gary Nabhan is leading the charge with Barnraiser fundraiser. His goal? ...

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An Apology to Young Agrarians

Dear Aspiring and Practicing Young Farmers,

Before anything else, I want to apologize for previously failing to acknowledge your value to our society at large, and to more fully support you in gaining traction with your endeavors. In four decades of writing about farming and ranching, I am afraid I have missed the mark by not writing about the issues most critical to your health and well-being. I have been so attracted to helping save the seeds, breeds, soil, and water ...

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Pollinator Plants of the Desert Southwest

Native Milkweeds

The Desert Southwest harbors at least 41 of the 76 milkweed (Asclepias spp.) species known to exist in the lower 48 states. The species richness of milkweeds in this region is influenced by the tremendous diversity and range of vegetation types, soils, topography, climate, and the exposure of unusual rock types that occur over more than a 9,000 foot elevation range. The nectar of milkweed flowers is attractive to dozens of insects including bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, ...

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Conservation You Can Taste: Saving Forgotten Fruits of the Borderlands

Three hundred years ago, Spanish missionaries introduced a suite of arid-adapted fruit and herb varieties to the Sonoran Desert region, many of which have barely survived to this day.

These desert-adapted, heirloom fruits enriched the diets and diversified the farms indigenous and immigrants alike, but fell out of availability and culinary fashion. Today, these forgotten fruits are once again needed because they are tolerant of heat, drought and even alkaline conditions.

 

Go to Barnraiser, and learn about Saving Forgotten Fruits of the ...

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Stalking Oregano in the Wilds of Mexico

Few American gourmands realize that most of the oregano they use to spice up sauces, meats, salads and vinegars—whether it be Greek or Mexican in origin—is hand-harvested from wild habitats. Although many varieties of oregano can be cultivated and irrigated as perennial crops, their aromatic oils become diluted as their leaves enlarge under well-watered conditions.

These same aromatic oils—called thymol and carvacol— become more concentrated, intensely flavorful and pungently memorable when the crisp, dry diminutive leaves of oreganos are harvested from ...

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Mezcal: Everything but the Worm

 

It’s nearly the Day of the Dead in Mexico, which gives us the perfect excuse to get familiar with the country’s national spirit: tequila. Or wait, should that be mezcal? And what’s the difference, anyway? In this episode of Gastropod, Cynthia and Nicky travel to Mexico to explore the history and science of distilled agave, and get tangled up in a complex story of controversies, clones, and culture.

The agave, a spiky succulent native to Mexico, has been at the center ...

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Reading Pope Francis on Peace, Justice & Caring For Creation

Respect & Forgiveness for Flawed but Courageous American “Saints”

 

One of the more remarkable features of Pope Francis visit to North America was his request that we remember and reflect upon the lives of certain charismatic Americans whom few U.S. citizens would have placed into the same category of greatness: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and the newly sainted Junipero Serra. What do these five persons have in common? Why has each of them ...

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Becoming “Laudito Si” Franciscans of the Rivers and Seas in the Era of Mining Spills

The recent toxic spill of 3 million pounds of mine wastes in the Animas-San Juan watershed is roughly I received my “call” year ago to become a Franciscan after days of solitude and prayer in the wilderness of the Four Corners region. It is also the same watershed where I once caught five catfish for breakfast while co-leading an Outward Bound-style rite of initiation in tributaries to the east of Lake Powell.

So just how does being a Franciscan brother shape ...

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Migratory Monarchs and Native Bees as Spiritual Messengers of Climate Change

When Pope Francis recently released his encyclical on climate change, people of many faiths finally realized how climate change is ultimately an issue of social and environmental justice that bringing caring for creation and “the right to life” to all species, races, cultures and classes. But it should explicitly be added that climate-related “social justice” needs to be applied to “social insects” like some bees and butterflies, not just to “social hominids” like human beings? Indeed, the plight of monarchs, ...

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An Open Letter to Governor Ducey

Dear Governor Ducey,

When you signed the 2016 state budget into law this spring, many Arizonans were unlikely to understand how your decisions might harm their own future health. They did not fathom that your budget-cutting measures are a deferred maintenance scheme that fails to deal with costly public health issues—and fails to adequately support the 600,000 Arizonans who suffer from diabetes today, or the 1.2 million people plagued by obesity. The hundreds of millions of dollars that you cut from ...

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