Farming Innovations

What are the Heritage Foods of the Rio Santa Cruz and Why Do They Matter?

by Gary Paul Nabhan, Kellogg Endowed Chair in Southwest Borderlands Food and Water Security, University of Arizona

The cultivation and harvest of domesticated foods began in the Rio Santa Cruz watershed began more than 4100 years ago, making it one of the oldest continuously-farmed cultural landscapes in North America. Surprisingly, some of the same crop varieties that were prehistorically cultivated in the watershed continue to be raised nearby. In addition, Avalon Gardens and Tumacacori National Monument as well as Tubac Presidio ...

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Agrarian Poetry: Why We Need Its Messages and Beauty Now, More Than Ever Before

Quite literally, from Biblical times to the 1950s, agrarian poetry, story and song helped to shape the underlying values of any culture, society or community which had strong ties to the land.

Now, with less that 1.5% of Americans self-identifying as farmers or ranchers, not only has the value of their poetic expressions been marginalized, but their overall contributions to American culture have also been marginalized as “nostalgic, romantic or retro.” Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, as ...

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High and dry: Southwest drought means rising food prices

Very few urban dwellers have paid attention to the catastrophic drought in the Southwest that began nearly a year ago. But last month, as farmers and ranchers assessed the year’s harvest, it became clear it had knocked back their yields and sales, while driving their costs higher than they have ever been. As the drought continues to drive both meat and vegetable food prices up over the next year, urbanites in the region and beyond will likely notice the change ...

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Gary Paul Nabhan: Mother Nature’s Foodie

by Keith Goetzman

Gary Paul Nabhan was chosen as an Utne Reader visionary in 2011. Each year Utne Reader puts forward its selection of world visionaries—people who don’t just concoct great ideas but also act on them.

Local and sustainable are on the tips of many tongues as more and more people try to eat food that’s good for them and the planet. If you’re a part of this important conversation, you can thank Gary Paul Nabhan ...

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Food archaeologist gives new life to nearly extinct grains, veggies

by Richard Ruelas – Oct. 1, 2011 06:43 PM
The Arizona Republic

PATAGONIA – Gary Nabhan has written stacks of research papers about culture, archaeology and food for academic journals, and has authored at least a dozen books, some meant for popular consumption, others the academic kind whose titles have colons and subtitles that are longer than the main title.

But the gist of his high-minded, dense research is this: People lived here thousands of years ago and ...

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Sustainable Goodness in Wisconsin

September 22, 2011

By: Jennifer Reece

This year’s annual Food for Thought Festival, held last weekend in Madison, explored and celebrated the diversity of ways to eat more pleasurably, healthfully and sustainably in Wisconsin.  Hosted by REAP (Research, Education, Action and Policy)—a Madison based non-profit organization with the mission to build a regional food system that is healthful, just, environmentally sustainable and economically viable—the Food for Thought Festival is reminiscent of the age-old harvest festival.  However, this festival is more ...

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Old-style apples from yore making a comeback in US orchards

By Associated Press, Published: September 7
Old-fashioned apples are back in fashion.

After nearly disappearing from the marketplace, apple varieties that were popular decades or even centuries ago are making a resurgence. The varieties, known as antique or heirloom apples, number in the thousands and carry names such as Sheepnose, American Mother, Lady Sweet and Nickajack.

And thanks to growing interest in all foods local and heirloom, they increasingly are showing up at farm stands and markets, at pick-your-own orchards and ...

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Sonorans harvest bounty of acorns before monsoon

By Jonathon Shacat
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP)— Each year, before the monsoon rains come, people in this region of northern Mexico harvest acorns known as bellotas from Emory Oak trees and sell the nuts along the roads here.Bellotas are brown and measure about 3/4 of an inch long and about 1/4 of an inch wide. Wick Communications environmental liaison Dick Kamp describes the taste as “tannic acid, and kind of rich.”

Emory Oak trees grow in isolated portions of Arizona, ...

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Hot on the trail of climate change

Ethnobotanist looks at extreme weather’s effect on chili peppers

By Aaron Kagan

 

PATAGONIA, Ariz. — Some of the best known symbols of climate change are belching smokestacks and polar bears adrift on ice floes. A lesser known symbol is the chili pepper. Gary Paul Nabhan set out to change that.

In the new book “Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail,’’ Nabhan teams up with agroecologist Kurt Michael Friese and chef Kraig Kraft to examine the relationship between food production and ...

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The Levantine Connection to the Southwest’s Flour Tortilla

The Levantine Connection to the Southwest’s Flour Tortilla

by Gary Paul Nabhan

While at a Palestinian café in Ramallah on the West Bank recently, I was surprised to find the waitress was bringing me a flour tortilla much like the pale, medium thin ones used for burritos throughout New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua and Sonora.

“Did I order these?” I asked my Palestinian hostess. “I thought I ordered a purslane salad with some saj flatbread on the side.”

“To the right of you is your ...

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Mom-and-pop vs. big-box stores in the food desert

by Gary Nabhan, Kelly Watters

A few weeks ago, when the Obama administration released its Food Desert Locator, many of us realized that a once-good idea has spoiled like a bag of old bread. If you go online and find that your family lives in a food desert, don’t worry: You have plenty of company. One of every 10 census tracts in the lower 48 has been awarded that status.

Two years ago, when one of us (Gary) moved to ...

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Farming in the Time of Climate Catastrophe

The Atlantic

Facing wild weather and dwindling water resources, a pepper grower says it’s time to rethink agriculture

It is spring, and I am kneeling with a few friends in front of the composted soil of the hillside terraces in my orchard-garden in the desert borderlands of Arizona. It is planting day, and as we place each variety of pepper plant into the moistened earth, we say its name aloud, as if reciting a prayer in the face of uncertainty: Chiltepin, ...

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Hot on the Trail of Chili Peppers

THERE was a frost expected here two weeks ago, but Gary Paul Nabhan, a conservation biologist and inveterate seed-saver, was out in his hardscrabble garden anyway, planting his favorite food, hot chilies.

Chiltepin, chile de árbol (the one that scrambles up trees), Tabasco, serrano, pasilla, Chimayó. These are only a few of the pungent peppers that Mr. Nabhan and two other chili lovers — Kurt Michael Friese, a chef from Iowa City, and Kraig Kraft, an agro-ecologist studying the origin of ...

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Chile crisis of 2011 reveals need for more resilience and diversity on the farm

by Gary Nabhan

What a difference a few days of aberrant weather can mean to our food security, our pocket books, and our penchant for hot sauce. The record freeze that hit the U.S. Southwest and Northern Mexico in early February is still affecting vegetable availability and food prices in general more than 6 weeks after the catastrophe. Restaurants across the U.S. are rationing peppers and tomatoes on their sandwiches and in their salsas. Prices for peppers have jumped as much ...

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A Rollicking Quest for Chiles ‘Along The Pepper Trail’

Authors trace history of chile on ‘spice odyssey’ starting in Mexico

Jill Koenigsdorf | For The New Mexican
Posted: Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Everyone loves a book that has a good quest at its center, be it a great white whale, a holy grail or, in the case of ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan, chef Kurt Friese, and agro-ecologist Kraig Kraft, rare and heirloom chiles.

Their new book, Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along The Pepper Trail (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011), is a rollicking ride, ...

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Chasing Chiles Across North America

Chasing Chiles is both a rollicking travelogue from three guys on the hunt for authentic food and cultural experience and an adventure with a larger, sobering mission: to understand the effects of climate change by zeroing in on one critical crop and the people whose lives are most deeply intertwined with it. Kraft, Friese, and Nabhan seek out and listen to farmers, chefs, and others who rely on the chile, and document ...

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A Masterpiece Written In Our Own Era

Old Southern Apples by Creighton Lee Calhoun, Jr. (with Edith Calhoun)

Without question, the most remarkable horticultural history book of this decade was released in late January, some fifteen years after its first edition astounded orchard keepers and agricultural historians everywhere. The second edition of Old Southern Apples is not simply expanded to include 1800 apple varieties, but it is an altogether more significant book, thanks to the extraordinary research accomplished by Lee and Edith Calhoun, and the ...

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Food security at historic watershed

The New Mexican
Posted: Monday, February 07, 2011

Whether you’ve noticed it or not, the farming capacity and food security of the border states are at an all-time low, and are likely to get worse before they are fully transformed to more sustainable and cost-efficient systems.

Recently, with a dozen experts from four states, we conceded that our capacity to feed ourselves and the hungriest of our neighbors has been compromised more than ever before. At the same time, experts ...

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Arizona’s “foodsheds” at Risk

Daniel Kraker (2011-02-07)

FLAGSTAFF, AZ (knau) – Arizona sits in the most arid region in the U.S. But it produces a surprising amount of food, from ancient crops like beans and corn, to winter vegetables that show up on dinner tables around the country. A new report, though, shows some cracks in the southwest’s food systems. Former NAU and current U of A researcher Gary Nabhan edited the study, called the “State of Southwestern Food Sheds.” He told KNAU’s Daniel ...

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UA Report Looks at State of Southwestern ‘Foodsheds’

Ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan is behind a collection of essays that analyze the decline and rise in interest in locally produced food.

By: Jeff Harrison, University Communications, February 2, 2011

Unprecedented pressures exist on food security and farming capacity in the U.S. borderland states, according to a new regional food assessment by University of Arizona researchers and their colleagues.

The economic downturn, water scarcity, rising oil prices, climate change and the loss of prime farmlands ...

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