Collaborative Conservation

UA researcher and colleagues discover the birthplace of the chili pepper

In the Southwest, the chili pepper is practically a dietary staple. It gives salsa a spicy crunch, it brings depth to Mexican sauces, and provides an extra kick to Sonoran hot dogs.

Plenty of other world cuisines rely on it too, from China to India to Thailand. But Latin America, researchers have confirmed, is where it started.

In a study of global significance, researchers have figured out where the first domesticated chili pepper crop was farmed. University of Arizona ethnobiologist and agroecologist ...

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Finding fire: Scientists trace chiles’ DNA to Mexico

By: Ryan Van Velzer, azcentral.com

An international team that includes a University of Arizona researcher has delved into the DNA of the chile and found its Eden: a valley in east-central Mexico where indigenous farmers domesticated the fiery pepper more than 6,500 years ago.

The team, using linguistic and ecological evidence as well as archaeological and genetic data, traced the ancestry of the first domesticated chiles to the Tehuacan Valley stretching from southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca to ...

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Chili Peppers First Cultivated in Mexico

 

The domesticated chili pepper—the world’s most widely grown spice crop—got its start in central-east Mexico, report researchers.

Results from the four-pronged investigation—based on linguistic and ecological evidence as well as the more traditional archaeological and genetic data—suggest a regional, rather than a geographically specific, birthplace for the domesticated chili pepper.

That region, extending from southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca to southeastern Veracruz, is further south than was previously thought, the researchers find.

The region also is different from areas of origin that have ...

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Agrobiodiversity in an Oasis Archipelago

Journal of Ethnobiology 33(2): 203–236
Fall/Winter 2013

By: Rafael de Grenade and Gary Paul Nabhan

The oases of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico, harbor farming systems with crops first introduced by Jesuit missionaries during their political, economic, and ecclesiastical dominance from 1697–1768. The oases represent geographies of historic dissemination and hold assemblages of heirloom perennial crop species with origins in six of seven continents. The first Jesuit missionaries to the peninsula documented their agricultural introductions in detail, and these historic documents ...

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Food Chain Restoration: Reconnecting Pollinators with Their Plants

At dawn on this year’s spring equinox, a group of people gathered in Patagonia, Arizona, to declare the Sonoita Creek – Upper Santa Cruz River watershed the Pollinator Capital of the United States. An interpretive sign, erected in a pollinator garden on Patagonia’s village green, noted that hundreds of species of native bees, dozens of species of butterflies and moths, fourteen species of hummingbirds, and two species of nectar-feeding bats regularly frequent the native flowers in this semi-arid landscape. But ...

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Seeds on seeds on seeds: Why more biodiversity means more food security

By

 

 

It is puzzling that Monsanto’s Vice President Robert Fraley recently became one of the recipients of the World Food Prize for providing GMO seeds to combat the effects of climate change, just weeks after Monsanto itself reported a $264 million loss this quarter because of a decline in interest and plummeting sales in its genetically engineered “climate-ready” seeds. And since Fraley received his award, the production of GMO corn has ...

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Conservation You Can Taste

OVER THE LAST three decades, more than one-hundred thousand plant and animal varieties and species have become endangered around the planet, many of which formerly provided humankind with food or beverages. At the same time, a remarkable counter trend has occurred in America’s gardens and orchards, and on its farms and ranch pastures.

Although virtually unnoticed in some circles, more than fifteen thousand unique vegetable, fruit, legume and grain varieties and dozens of livestock and poultry breeds have returned to U.S. ...

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How dry we are: Adapting to climate change with Gary Paul Nabhan

Santa Fe * New Mexican
Updated: 11:06 pm, Thu Sep 5, 2013
Written By: Staci Matlock

 

Ethnobotanist, seed saver, and author Gary Paul Nabhan says he’s not a “doomsday” kind of guy. But even his optimism took a dive for a little while as he watched climate change affect the environment. He saw the impact of drought on his own land and that of other farmers.

“It was tough visiting my brother-in-law on his pecan orchard near Las Cruces and ...

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Our Coming Food Crisis

By: Gary Paul Nabhan
The New York Times

TUCSON, Ariz. — THIS summer the tiny town of Furnace Creek, Calif., may once again grace the nation’s front pages. Situated in Death Valley, it last made news in 1913, when it set the record for the world’s hottest recorded temperature, at 134 degrees. With the heat wave currently blanketing the Western states, and given that the mercury there has already reached 130 degrees, the news media is awash in speculation ...

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Can Southern Arizona be protein self-sufficient in the face of climate change?

On a hot June day in the Flowing Wells neighborhood of northeast Tucson, 45 ranchers, farmers, chefs, butchers and range ecologists met to talk about the future of meat production, processing and local distribution in Southern Arizona.  Most of the participants knew that meat prices and demand were at an all-time high in Tucson and North America as a whole, but they also some of the reasons for why that was true: drought had knocked back rangeland cattle numbers; the ...

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Q & A – Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

Ben Watson: What does global climate change have to do with America’s failure to produce more food than its people consume for the third straight year?

Gary Nabhan: For starters, we had over 2,200 counties declared national drought disaster areas in 2012, four times more than in 2011. Farmers applied for $13 billion dollars of federal insurance due to crop failures and reduced yields, more than twice the running average per year. Increasingly unprecedented climatic disruption is affecting farmers, ranchers, foragers ...

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Growing Food in a Hotter, Dryer Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty

By: Publishers Weekly

Nabhan, an ethnobotanist, cofounder of Native Seeds/SEARCH, and prolific author, draws on his longtime relationships with the land and people of the Southwest U.S., together with wisdom from farmers and gardeners in Egypt, Mexico, and other dry places, to suggest solutions for growing food and developing agricultural resiliency as climate change affects wider swaths of the planet. He discusses using hedge fences (he calls them “fredges”) to minimize flood damage; choosing ancient and traditional methods for water ...

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Slow Money National Gathering: Diversity in Food Financing

By Marlena John

At the Slow Money National Gathering, there was a lot of talk about sustainable food systems, local food sheds, healthy soil and healthy people.

There was also a lot of talk about how challenging it is to attain these ideal food systems. Small farmers often run into trouble finding financing. The question is, when traditional financing doesn’t offer support, where do small, local farmers go? How can these farmers grow their businesses and support their families when they only ...

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The Wild, the Domesticated, and the Coyote-Tainted

The Trickster and the Tricked in Hunter-Gatherer versus Farmer Folklore

By: Gary Paul Nabhan
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Abstract

Folklore regarding (biological) coyotes and (the mythic) Old Man Coyote the Trickster is rich in both hunter-gatherer and farmer-herder societies in Western North America, and apparently not restricted to language group, socioeconomic status, or subsistence strategy. To date, there has yet to be a systematic comparison of hunter-gatherer versus farmer uses of ‘Coyote’ as a modifier in the secondary lexemes used to name plants ...

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Chapalote Corn – The oldest corn in North America pops back up

Article & Photo by Gary Paul Nabhan
Heirloom Gardener • Winter 2012-2013
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It is a truly remarkable irony that most Americans have never even heard of the name of the oldest heirloom maize variety on the continent, Chapalote, let alone tasted its earthy, flinty cornmeal. Corn farming in the foodscapes within the present-day United States did not begin in the Midwestern or Southern “Corn Belts,“ nor along the East Coast where Pilgrims first encountered this new ...

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The Story of Mission Grapes – Arizonas First Varietal

Arizona Vines & Wines
By: Gary Paul Nabhan
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California can claim many firsts with regard to viticulture and winemaking, but the antiquity of wine and grape production in the Southwest is not one of them. It appears that the first cultivation and fermentation of grapes occurred in present-day Arizona at least 75 years before they took root in “Alta California,” and that vine crops had arrived even earlier in what we now know as ...

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Fruit Comes from the Archbishop

For the Table and the Soul

By: Gary Paul Nabhan

Home cooks and chefs of the Southwest have never lacked for delicious fruit, given the fact that native prickly pears, wild plums, elderberries, wolfberries, blackberries, hackberries, and persimmons grow along streams and in canyons from Texas to California. But a turning point occurred in southwestern agricultural and culinary history roughly 400 years ago, after the first Spanish-introduced fruit took root on American soil in the watersheds of the Rio Grande and the ...

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Cross-Border Credo

What We Want for Our Binational, Multicultural Foodshed

By: Gary Paul Nabhan

Values: We believe that the many traditional cultures and innovative individuals of this region have developed a rich heritage of both tangible resources and intangible knowledge, practices and values that need recognition, respect and safeguarding if they are to contribute to a just, equitable, sustainable and resilient food system for our region. We support the many communities in their efforts toward achieving food security, food sovereignty, food democracy and health ...

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Ten Things that Tucson can do to redesign our food system for health, environmental resilience, social justice and economic well-being

By: Gary Paul Nabhan

  1. Get more of the beef, fruits, nuts, and vegetables already grown in So. Arizona to be processed & delivered in or near Tucson.  Today, less than 2% of Tucson’s food budget comes from the 5 county area of Southern Arizona, and profits from foods grown nearby but processed elsewhere benefits corporations and economies other than our own. Mandate that beef grown on Pima County-owned ranches be used in our schools, prisons and nursing homes. Use credit unions ...
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