Blog

Taking Stock of Successes with Local Foods

It was a wild way to break in the New Year, sharing local game and fish with hunters who donated their venison, pronghorn antelope backstrap and javelina “pork roasts” to their friends at the Cattle Baron in Flagstaff, Arizona. As we were sitting waiting for the first meat to come out of the roasting pit, I began to daydream about whether such an event would have even been “on my screen” some twenty years ago, as the local foods movement was ...

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Long Before the First Thanksgiving

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, RAFT founder

Gary Paul Nabhan is a MacArthur Fellow, cofounder of Native Seeds/SEARCH, and author of numerous books and articles on ethnobotany, nutrition, and plant conservation.

Try to recall the most remarkable lunch you’ve ever had in a grade school. Mine was remarkable not only because of the food that was served, but also because of the people—both young and old—with whom I ate. It was the people’s cultural traditions and their link with their distinctive ...

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The Beginning and the End of the Colorado River: Protecting the Sources, Ensuring Its Courses

Dedicated to Anita Alvarez de Williams, Nuestra Señora de la Delta

During the drought year of 2002, front-page headlines in Arizona’s largest newspaper declared “Colorado River Not Doing Job.” It was one of several notices making the national and regional headlines that year that referred to the worst drought to hit the bulk of the Colorado River basin in a century or more. In reading the Arizona Republic article that morning, I presumed that the journalists responsible for it understood ...

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Deepening Our Sense of What Is Local and Regional Food

Now that Time magazine has done a cover feature article on the local foods movement and a book on the same topic by bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver and her family is poised to climb up the New York Times top-ten non-fiction list, we might want to ask what actually is it that we want to promote by using phrases like “ Buy Fresh, Buy Local”. I can assure you that there will be increasing criticism of the so-called local ...

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Twelve Lessons on Water Conservation from Traditional Farmers of the Colorado Plateau

The cultivation and irrigation of crops adapted to an arid climate began on the Colorado Plateau more than four thousand years ago, as we know from desiccated corncobs found near Zuni, Black Mesa, and Canyon de Chelly. An unbroken chain of some 160 generations has been engaged in rain-fed and runoff-supplemented production of food, fiber, and dyes with seeds and water-conserving practices adapted to the peculiar soils and microclimates of this region. Many environmental conditions and agricultural technologies have changed, ...

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A Terroir-ist’s Manifesto for Eating in Place

Know where your food has come from
through knowing those who produced it for you,
from farmer to forager, rancher or fisher
to earthworms building a deeper, richer soil,
to the heirloom vegetable, the nitrogen-fixing legume,
the pollinator, the heritage breed of livestock,
& the sourdough culture rising in your flour.

Know where your food has come from
by the very way it tastes:
its freshness telling you
how far it may have traveled,
the hint of mint in the cheese
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American Terroir

Sit down at the table with your countrymen & friends
And ask your lips, tongues, minds & bellies some questions,
Questions that remind us that our bodies & spirits
Are either nurtured by place
Or swallowed up by tasteless placelessness.

Ask aloud: Just what exactly is it
That we want to have cross our lips,
To roll off our tongues & down our throats
To be transformed & conjured into something
Altogether new by thousands of gut microbes
To surge into ...

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Dismantling Metro Phoenix

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, PhD.

Listen to Audio –

The news that Arizona is now the fastest growing state in the nation provides a wonderful opportunity to finally tackle the biggest problem in our state. No, not illegal immigration. It is the legal immigration to our Sunbelt state that has created the thousand pound gorilla squatting in the middle of Arizona. That gorilla is Metro Phoenix. It not only consumes otherwise productive ...

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A Plead for Humanitarian Relief in Lebanon

By: Gary Paul Nabhan

October 24th, 2006

My young cousins in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon wake up with broken glass sparkling in their hair, every window in their homes shattered by missiles that have struck nearby during the night. They are stranded in a small village of Christian and Bedouin sheepherders and orchard-keepers. It is miles away from Hezbolleh encampments, but such geographic facts do not lend them much protection these days.

Israeli missiles have hit the two thousand year old ...

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Desert is a Homeland that Has Migrated

“Our ancestors need to hear from us.” Vivienne Jake, Kaibab Paiute elder

It is well after midnight, and I have found myself in the backseat of a rented Lexus with a driver named Ahmed who is speeding 150 kilometers per hour along the shores of the Arabian Gulf. There is desert here right up to the sea, but both dry ground and ocean water are hard to make out. There are floodlights beaming down on the eight lane super highway between ...

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How Green Is Our Valley

Networks of local food growers, restaurants, and farmers’ markets promote the joys of regional cuisine: flavor, prosperity, and the family farm.

by Gary Paul Nabhan

One recent Sunday, I ate dinner at a community center on a Navajo reservation in Leupp, Arizona, not far from the Grand Falls of the Little Colorado River. A heavy fog had settled over the Painted Desert, but as we sat down to our meal, the fog lifted, revealing the dusty soil from which the foods we ...

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