Food Heritage and History

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

How to harvest water and nutrients, select drought-tolerant plants, and create natural diversity

With climatic uncertainty now “the new normal,” many farmers, gardeners, and orchardists in North America are desperately seeking ways to adapt how they grow food in the face of climate change. The solutions may be at our back door.

In Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land, Nabhan, one of the world’s experts on the agricultural traditions of arid lands, draws from the knowledge of traditional farmers in the ...

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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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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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Agrarian Poetry: Why We Need Its Prophesies and Imagery Now, More Than Ever

Agrarian poetry? Agrarian prophesies? Agrarian urgencies? One might wonder whether any 21st century preoccupation with agrarian values and agrarian ideals comes as too little, too late, for less than one in six of all Canadian and U.S. citizens live in rural areas outside of towns, cities and suburbs.

But listen up. Look again. The New Agrarianism is emerging in Western Canada and the United States, and it is not strictly restricted to the rural domain. Nor does it a necessarily stem ...

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Heirloom Apples, Heritage Orchards & Cideries Bring Back Food Diversity and Jobs to Our Communities

By: Gary Paul Nabhan

While some media reports assume that efforts to protect biodiversity in our landscapes inevitably cost jobs in our communities, heritage orchards and cideries prove otherwise. Since the economic downturn, study after study show that new food and beverage microenterprises have become one of the most effective means of jumpstarting local economies hurt since the 2009 downturn. They not only create jobs for local residents rather that outsourcing the work to distant places, but they purchase ...

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World Food Day: A Franciscan Prayer Service on Behalf of Farmers, Farmworkers & Fishers in a Year of Drought & Immigration Debate

By Gary Paul Nabhan

Call to Worship

Let us remember the words of Saint James:

“The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of Our Creator, Our Lord of Hosts” (5:4).

During this season of harvest, in the year in North American history when 71 percent of our rural communities saw their crop seeds and livestock breeds damaged by drought, let us call all cultures, faiths and nations together to celebrate that which the earth did yield, and to ask for repentance for ...

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Food Justice: An Interview With Gary Nabhan About Borderland Foods

Original Article: KNAU

One of the founders of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University is out with a new study on borderland foods. Gary Nabhan – now with the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona – has just published a study about the geopolitical disparity along the U.S./Mexico border in terms of poverty and food supply. He told KNAU’s Gillian Ferris Kohl that more than a dozen researchers went into ...

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Genetic Variation and Distribution of Pacific Crabapple

By: Kanin J. Routson, Gayle M. Volk, Christopher M. Richards, Steven E. Smith, Gary Paul Nabhan, and Victoria Wyllie de Echeverria

ABSTRACT. Pacific crabapple [Malus fusca (Raf.) C.K. Schneid.] is found in mesic coastal habitats in Pacific northwestern North America. It is one of four apple species native to North America. M. fusca is culturally important to First Nations of the region who value and use the fruit of this species as food, bark and leaves for medicine, and wood for ...

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Slow Money movement aims to bring cash down to earth

The Denver Post
By: Andra Zeppelin

Slow Money brought its “We must bring money back to earth” message to Colorado Saturday. In collaboration with the Sustainable Settings ranch of Carbondale, Slow Money hosted the Rocky Mountain Regional Gathering, a day of community organizing and panel discussions, followed by a harvest festival at Sustainable Settings.  Participants, myself included, left inspired to build and support vibrant food businesses using Slow Money tools and ideas.

 

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A Meal Without a Mexican? Your Food Has Already Migrated!

CIVIL EATS – August 30th, 2012 – By: Gary Nabhan

Not even a decade has passed since Sergio Arau filmed A Day Without a Mexican, but 2012 may go down in history as the Year of No Meals Without a Mexican because of labor shortages in American fields and orchards. Since mid-year, there have been a growing number of state and nation-wide reports indicating that hand-picked vegetables and fruits produced in the United States will be unusually scarce this year.

This ...

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When Local is Binational: Borderland Food in Nogales

When the food relocalization movement revved up its engines a dozen years ago, I would often see maps that circumscribed “local foodsheds” by county, state,  or region of our sprawling nation, but they never crossed international boundaries. But when I recently moved to southern Arizona to plant an heirloom orchard just twelve miles north of the U.S./Mexico line, such maps suddenly made little sense to me.

As I searched for low chill fruit and nut varieties to plant in my orchard, ...

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Chris Bianco Writing Pizza Cookbook with Local-Food Movement Guru Gary Nabhan

Word’s been out for a while that Chris Bianco’s writing a book — but Chow Bella just got the scoop on his co-author: local-food movement guru Gary Nabhan.

When it comes to understanding flour, dough, yeast, tomatoes, olive oils and other artisanal ingredients, heat sources and the whole pizza shebang —Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco is the indisputable MAN. He’s the only pizza-maker to ever win a James Beard Award (Best Chef Southwest, 2003), and his cramped but cozy pizza ...

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Hungry for Change

Borderlands Food and Water in the Balance

The Southwest Center’s Kellogg Program in Sustainable Food Systems

By: Gary Nabhan, Maribel Alvarez, Jeffrey Banister, and Regina Fitzsimmons

Welcome to the food system of the U.S.-Mexico border —the geopolitical boundary with the greatest economic disparity in the world. Stories written and spoken about this unnatural rift in the landscape are the stuff of myth, literary leaping or yarn spinning, depending on who tells the tale. The U.S./Mexico border is also, for many, una herida abierta—an ...

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Why Desert Foods are the Most Fragrant & Flavorful in the World

An Interview with Gary Nabhan by Casey Kittrell

Casey: In your new book Desert Terroir , you make the claim that some of the foods from the Desert Southwest are among the most flavorful and fragrant in the world. Why is that?

Gary: Well, the very chemicals that we love to taste and smell in a well-prepared meal of herbs, vegetables, grass-fed beef and wine produced in our region are present because they play roles in the survival and adaptation ...

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The Return of the Natives: Designing and Planting Hedgerows for Pollinator Habitat to Bring Wild Diversity Back to Farms and Gardens

By: Gary Paul Nabhan and Amanda Webb
Patagonia, AZ

Native pollinators, it seems, were once forgotten as playing an essential role in providing ecological services for food security, but no longer.  We have witnessed a surge in grassroots interest in returning pollinators to their proper place in sustainable agriculture, as witnessed by the enthusiastic participation recently seen at a workshop regarding on-farm pollinator habitat restoration in the U.S./Mexico borderlands.

The workshop featured practical teachings from Sam Earnshaw of Community Alliance of Family ...

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Street Food in the Desert’s Cities: Has Tucson Become the Hub for Lunch Wagons, Taco Trucks and Sonoran Hot Dog Carts?

By: Gary Nabhan, Regina Fitzsimmons, Amanda Webb and Maribel Alvarez

Did you know that Tucson and its Pima County suburbs have 12 times the number of mobile food services per capita than New York City?  The county reports some 941 mobile food businesses registered for business, including 235 full service food carts, 45 “dogero” push carts,  and 85 other mobile vendors in Tucson alone. Pima County appears to have tied with Los Angeles County in California for having the highest ratio ...

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The Return of the Natives: Designing and Planting Hedgerows for Pollinator Habitat to Bring Wild Diversity Back to Farms and Gardens

By: Gary Paul Nabhan
Patagonia, AZ – Workshop Highlights

Native pollinators, it seems, were once forgotten as playing an essential role in providing ecological services for food security, but no longer.  We have witnessed a surge in grassroots interest in returning pollinators to their proper place in sustainable agriculture, as witnessed by the enthusiastic participation recently seen at a workshop regarding on-farm pollinator habitat restoration in the U.S./Mexico borderlands.

The workshop featured practical teachings from Sam Earnshaw of Community Alliance of Family ...

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A Brief History of Cross-Border Food Trade

By: Gary Paul Nabhan and Regina Rae Fitzsimmons

Many U.S. residents are amazed to learn that three-fifths of the fresh produce eaten in the U.S. comes from the West Coast of Mexico, and that much of the saltwater fish and shrimp they eat may come from Mexico’s reaches of the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California. However, we should not belittle New Yorkers or Minnesotans for this lack of knowledge, since few of us who live much ...

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