Food Heritage and History

Tucson, Arizona, cultivates its foodie reputation – with a nod from Unesco

Having gained Unesco city of gastronomy recognition, Tucson’s new wave of downtown restaurants are making the most of the area’s unusual desert foods

 

 

The desert surrounding Tucson, Arizona, is filled with soaring Saguaro cactus, their bright red fruits long a delicacy here. The abundance of this native food is one reason why, last December, Tucson became America’s first Unesco city of gastronomy, joining just 18 others worldwide, despite having fewer fancy restaurants than many US cities, and being one of its ...

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Flowers, Creatures & Contemplatives Embracing One Another in the Wilderness World

I.

 

“…the silence of the forest is my bride & the sweet dark warmth of the whole world is my love & out of the heart of that dark warmth comes the secret that is heard only in silence, but it is the root of all secrets that are whispered by all the lovers in the beds all over the world.”

Thomas Merton (1997), Dancing in the Water of Life (journals)

 

Among the earliest memories imprinted in my mind: ...

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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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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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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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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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Q&A from the Conservation You Can Taste Tour

These are various questions that were given to Gary Paul Nabhan by hosts of his tour Conservation You Can Taste. In particular, these came from representatives from the University of Ohio, and the University of Minnesota.

QUESTION: You have worked as a plant explorer and now you are an orchard-keeper of over 150 varieties of wild and heirloom fruits. What prompted your interest in food biodiversity?

NABHAN: Our Lebanese grandfather was an immigrant who grew trees in the Old World ...

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UA Helps Bring Seed Library Forum to Tucson

Ensuring community access to seeds remains a vital issue, and the UA is among those hosting the first International Seed Library Forum, a four-day event that kicks off on Sunday.

 

In 1981, the nonprofit seed conservation organization Native Seed/SEARCH hosted the first national grassroots seed conference in Tucson to better meet the community’s need for access to quality seeds.

Thirty-five years later, ensuring community access to seeds remains a ...

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MacArthur Fellow Gary Paul Nabhan

Nabhan combines his love for science and the written word. He contributed poems to the book “Sown by Hand.”

 

Gary Paul Nabhan, PhD was born in Indiana but he has spent most of his life in Arizona when not traveling to different parts of the world addressing indigenous foods and local communities.

Nabhan is a huge fan of food, culture and ecology, and he credits part of his passion to his Lebanese ancestry.

“If you know anything about the Lebanese, when ...

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A Tale of Two Views: Gary Nabhan and Joel Salatin

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Cowboy Keynote: Speaker urges honest discourse in land disputes

The most contentious disagreements over land management pit ranchers against environmentalists in range wars with endless back-and-forth battles.

But the stakeholders overwhelmingly agree with one another on a majority of issues, according to Gary Paul Nabhan, a professor at the University of Arizona, and this year’s keynote speaker for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

“If we share 90 percent of the same goals and values, why are we always jabbing at each other about that 10 percent where we ...

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A Tale of Two Foodsheds: Why Slow Money Strategies Matter

In Alleviating Poverty & Food Insecurity through Jumpstarting Farms & Food Microenterprises in Low Income Urban & Rural Communities: Field Notes from Arizona and New Mexico

 

It’s been roughly fifteen years since the food localization movement gained ground nationally, but some communities and states have lagged far behind others in recovering or newly building vibrant local food economies. And yet, many are still grappling with how true democratizing food systems and innovative financing can tangibly make a difference in ...

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Tucson, Arizona – An International Culinary Destination

The City of Gastronomy title is a part a UNESCO network of “Creative Cities” working together toward a common mission for cultural diversity and sustainable urban development. Joining the Creative Cities Network as a City of Gastronomy will highlight Tucson’s cultural assets on a global platform. It will also promote Tucson’s diverse cultural products in national and international markets by drawing attention to our vibrant community’s:

 

• numerous restaurants and chefs featuring indigenous ingredients used in traditional cooking;
• ...
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