Family, Community & Place

Guest Opinion: Heal Arizona’s chasms

Our elections may be over, but one thing is for sure: Arizona remains politically divided, just as much of our country is. One party’s candidate may have won this or that senate or congressional race, but the split in how Arizonans view our future is as sharp as it was before the elections took place.

What politicians cannot mend is what our citizenry should see as our sacred responsibility to heal, if nothing else, for the benefit of future ...

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Will Work for Dirt

Have you ever tried to grow a garden in your backyard, only to find that the dirt was too worn-out and dry to produce anything? Have you coaxed that soil back to life so that it, in turn, could give life to fruits, vegetables, or root crops?

Gabriela Valeria Villavicencio Valdez, an urban garden enthusiast in Querétaro, Mexico, is all too familiar with lifeless dirt. In fact, she has adopted a newly coined name for this type of postapocalyptic, dystopian, metro ...

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A Good-for-Nothing Tree Makes Good

It is mid-November, and yet it is still warm and sunny in the Dunbar/Spring barrio just a mile from the heart of historic Tucson. Residents of the sprawling desert city still call it the Old Pueblo. It holds archaeological evidence of more than 4,000 years of continuous farming and foraging in its midst. That is one of several distinctions that has recently earned Tucson a United Nations designation as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States.

Mesquite trees might ...

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Helping Plants, Healing People

In ethnobotanist and author Gary Paul Nabhan’s newest book, Food from the Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Communities (Island Press) he writes about communities engaged in the radical restoration work of connecting culture, food and place. His stories range from bees to bison, soil to sturgeon. In this excerpt, readers get to meet the women who practice “plant wifery,” helping to protect and restore species that have medicinal and cultural importance.

Have you ever been hiking and ...

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Doing the Right Thing, with Sustainable Food! – MetroFarm Community

I ran across the following in Gary Nabhan’s new book: Food from the Radical Center.

“As a cub reporter for Environmental Action, I covered everything from the lead poisoning of children in Rust Belt factory towns to pesticide effects on bird and bees in Midwestern farmlands. At that time, I sincerely believed the issues of environmental health would unite Americans, transcending lines of race and class. We would be galvanized by our desire to see both the government and industry ...

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“Food From the Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Communities” by Gary Paul Nabhan

It’s easy to picture Gary Paul Nabhan as a human teletype machine. As quickly as thoughts come into his head, it seems, words flow out of his fingers, filling book after book after book. The author, co-author, or editor of around 40 books published between 1982 and 2018, Nabhan’s prolific production is even more impressive when we realize he is not only an academic — most recently holding the Kellogg endowed chair in Borderlands Food and Water Security at the ...

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Southern Arizona author Nabhan further explores food in two new books

Agricultural ecologist and ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan, considered the father of the local food movement and a pioneer of the heirloom seed-saving movement, has authored more than 30 books. His two most recent books, reviewed here, were published in September. Nabhan, the Kellogg Endowed Chair at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center, lives in Patagonia.

Food from the Radical Center: Healing our Land and Communities, Gary Paul Nabhan. Island Press. $28

Feed thy neighbor. Although ours is an increasingly fractious society, improving ...

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Science put at risk along U.S.-Mexico border

Off the southern coast of California, just across the border from Tijuana, Mexico, dolphins swim around the fence that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. “They don’t really care,” said Jeff Crooks, a University of San Diego scientist who has been doing research along the U.S.-Mexico border for the past 16 years.

The border fence here was built long before President Trump’s campaign promises to “build a wall.” Barriers run for 46 miles separating San Diego County from Mexico; near the ...

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Guest opinion: Cruelty and incompetence on the border

Like most Americans, we have been sickened by the sights and sounds of children torn away from their families at the border. President Trump’s separation policy was designed for maximum deterrence against immigrants seeking asylum or crossing the border. And whether by incompetence or by intent, Trump’s administration had no plan to keep track of children and parents in order to reunite them.

Trump blamed previous administrations, saying that he had no choice but to enforce the existing immigration laws. But ...

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KCRW – Good Food – Tucson’s foodways

In 2015, Tucson was named the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S. due to the region’s more than 4,000 year-old agricultural history, among other reasons. Gary Nabhan is an ethnobotanist and the founding director of regional food studies at the University of Arizona.

He recently authored a report on the state of Tucson’s food system and visits to talk about the significance of the designation.

 

 

______________________

This originally broadcasted May 12, 2018 on KCRW.

 

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Saving Our Food Supply in the Face of Climate Change

In the already-scorching Southwest, a group of scientists, ranchers and farmers are figuring out how to adapt the current agricultural system for a hotter, drier planet.

A smoldering vista southeast of Tucson, Arizona—a city that saw 68 days of temperatures at 100°F or higher last year, and averages less than 12 inches of rainfall annually. Photos by Russ Schleipman.

Gary Paul Nabhan ...

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In the Arizona Desert, Tucson Models Affordable Food Access

UNESCO’s first City of Gastronomy in the U.S. relies on its built-in biodiversity and a wide network of food justice organizations to feed its most marginalized residents.

Tucson is a foodie town. But rather than artisan breads and local avocados drawing crowds of tourists, it’s the relationship between diverse plants and people that earned it the distinction of being the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States in 2015.

The UNESCO distinction came as a result of ...

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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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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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Janos Wilder: A Chef’s Journey from Pizza to Paris by Way of Tucson

When UNESCO named Tucson, Arizona a World City of Gastronomy in Dec. 2015, the first U.S. city so named, it put this small desert city on the global map. It also gave a boost to one of its top chefs, Janos Wilder.

In June, Wilder, a James Beard award-winner (2000, Best Chef: Southwest), represented Tucson at a reception in UNESCO’s Paris headquarters before the annual Creative Cities Network conference. In preparation he crafted the menu at his restaurant, Downtown ...

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A Future in the Ancestral

Mesoamerican culinary traditions spanning millennia have influenced the gastronomic heritage of Baja Arizona.

Tacos, tostadas, burritos, sopes, menudos, cazuelas, enchiladas, licuados—the typical foods of modern Mexico that are familiar in the borderlands—are but one set of spinoffs of an ancient Mesoamerican diet.

Since the mid-20th century, two kinds of Mexican diet have been diverging from one another. One is deeply traditional—think tamales, atolespinoles, moles, tepaches, caldos, and nopalitos—while the ...

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Howard Scott Gentry memory recognized the week of April 28th to May 7th

Let us now praise famous mezcaleros! It was 75 years ago that my mentor, the great plant explorer Howard Scott Gentry, published his Rio Mayo Plants, and 35 years ago that he published Agaves of Continental North America.

As a kid, I worked one summer at the Desert Botanical Garden in Metro Phoenix helping Dr. Gentry check herbarium specimens for localities of the ...

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