Food Heritage and History

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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‘Seed schools’ can help nurture local heirloom plants

Written by: Jim Ewing

A novel approach toward helping young people ensure biodiversity in our world is studying seeds in the wild and planting them for food in the garden.

Called “seed schools,” they should be in schools everywhere.

According to Native Seeds SEARCH’s Seedhead News, Gary Paul Nabhan, sometimes called “the father of the local foods movement,” was recently named to an endowed chair at the University of Arizona’s Sustainable Food Systems Program.

Nabhan helps seed school students name their own plant ...

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Going with the Grain, Occupying Our Food Supply

As someone who grows nearly a dozen acres of heritage grains in the desert—including the oldest corn and oldest wheat varieties in North America– I recently learned a fact about cereal commodity trading that knocked me off my feet.

The most powerful transnational corporation you’ve never heard of—Glencore International PLC, the world’s largest diversified commodities trader—currently controls one tenth of the world’s wheat supply, and one quarter of the global harvest of barley, sunflower and rapeseed. You may have never heard ...

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Bookshelf – NYTimes

By STEPHEN HEYMAN
 

All roads lead to Rome, but chief among them was the Via Appia, a storied path from the capital to the heel of Italy traveled by everyone from Cicero to Monty Python. Robert A. Kaster traces their footsteps in ‘‘The Appian Way’’ (University of Chicago Press, $23).

In ‘‘Desert Terroir’’ (University of Texas Press, $25), Gary Paul Nabhan forages in the borderlands, where he connects dishes like capirotada, a Mexican ...

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The Food Movement Speaks With one Voice: Occupy our Food Supply

Willie Nelson, Anna Lappe, Vandana Shiva, Michael Pollan, Raj Patel, Marion Nestle and Many Others Join 60+ Occupy Groups and 30+ Environmental and Food Groups for Global Day of Action, Monsanto and Cargill rise to top of food movement

SAN FRANCISCO: On February 27, an unprecedented alliance of more than 60 Occupy groups and 30 environmental, food and corporate accountability organizations have joined together for Occupy our Food Supply, a global day of action resisting the corporate ...

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Desert Terroir, Exploring the Unique Flavors and Sundry Places of the Borderlands

Why does food taste better when you know where it comes from? Because history— ecological, cultural, even personal—flavors every bite we eat. Whether it’s the volatile chemical compounds that a plant absorbs from the soil or the stories and memories of places that are evoked by taste, layers of flavor await those willing to delve into the roots of real food. In this landmark book, Gary Paul Nabhan takes us on a personal trip into the southwestern borderlands to discover ...

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Drakes Estero oyster farm a natural fit

By: Gary P. Nabhan, Jeffrey A. Creque
Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is an oyster farm compatible with wilderness values?

The purpose of the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act – under which the National Park Service alleges authority to prepare an environmental impact statement on Drakes Bay Oyster Co. operations – was “to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony.”

The 80-year tradition of shellfish aquaculture in Drakes Estero is a quintessential example of exactly such a ...

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Gary’s Vision – The Big Picture…

Caring Capacity versus Carrying Capacity

Re-Designing Borderland Food Systems for the Health of the Land and the Health of Its Multicultural Communities

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, Kellogg Chair in Food and Water Security for the Southwest Borderlands, University of Arizona

THE CHALLENGE

More than seventy years ago, Aldo Leopold first compared wholeness and health in the human body with those attributes in farmscapes. In a prophetic essay entitled “The Farmer as a Conservationist,” Leopold (1939, 1999) offered this analogy:

“It seems to me that ...

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Capturing Synergies to Build Healthy Communities in the Southwest Borderlands

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, Sabores Sin Fronteras Foodways Alliance &, Kellogg Chair in Southwest Borderlands Food and Water Security, University of Arizona

The term food hub  has become used more and more frequently as one of several means to build and strengthen regional food systems. The USDA’s working definition of a food hub  is a “centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced foods.”

As I hear more and more food ...

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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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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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Sabores Sin Fronteras Launches “Taco Diplomacy” Food Wagon

An artisan-crafted Taco Diplomacy Food Wagon was recently launched as a provocative food art exhibit to remind its viewers of the many flavors without borders that enrich the lives of our region. It was inaugurated the weekend of October 13 to 15, 2011, where over 100,000 Arizonans and Sonorans gathered at Tucson Meet Yourself to celebrate cultural diversity and its links to food and music traditions.

The 5000 pound mobile art exhibit was designed by Cade and Jesus of Dust Designs ...

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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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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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Grant Funds Endowed Chair in UA Southwest Center

By UA Foundation, August 10, 2011

Gary Nabhan, a research social scientist in the Southwest Center, has been named the Sustainable Food Systems Endowed Chair following a nearly $1.6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

A generous investment from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich. is helping the Southwest Center of the University of Arizona’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences create an endowed faculty chair to lead its new Sustainable Food Systems Program in Southwest ...

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