Food Heritage and History

A Fig by Any Other Name

Among the earliest memories I have of my grandfather are his soliloquies in broken English regarding overripe fruits and their fate in America. “Papa” John Ferhat Nabhan would often arrive at our house weary, after a long day of driving his blue-gray fruit truck through the sand dunes trying to sell its entire load of fruit. He was a Lebanese immigrant, formerly a sheepherder and camel drover, who had become an itinerant fruit peddler is his newfound land. Inevitably, when ...

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Gary Nabhan, the Gulf and the Power of Positive Eating

By: Crashing Vor
Published: July 16, 2010

Gary Paul Nabhan is a man of many hats. Geographer, ethnobiologist, conservationist, storyteller. That he won the MacArthur “genius” award should come as no surprise, as he has consistently uses his varied interests to find the profound truths hiding in the intersections between seemingly unrelated fields.

His 2002 book Coming Home to Eat , about a year spent eating only what could be found within a 250-mile range of his Arizona home, ...

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Restoring the Bishops Garden with Lamys Diversity of Forgotten Fruits

I would like to offer some reflections regarding a neglected legacy of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe: the horticultural legacy of Archbishop Lamy on behalf of the poor and hungry in northern New Mexico. And I would like to suggest that it would be a very Franciscan gesture to not only restore but to revitalize that legacy to its rightful place on the grounds of this Basilica—a National Historical Landmark known as Lamy’s Garden. And so, my comments will be ...

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Food Producers and Their Traditional Foods at Risk in the Gulf Coast

Vermilionaire: An inhabitant of Southern Louisiana who benefits from the region’s rich culture and environment.

Vermilionaire is also the title of a recording by the Lost Bayou Ramblers, a Cajun band from Louisiana whose title track is a traditional song of going down to the bayou to fish, hunt, and trap, and never dying of hunger. As oil pours beneath the surface of the water in the Gulf of Mexico and makes its way to the coast, the ...

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“Eat What You Want to Conserve” Says Arab-American Writer Gary Nabhan

Posts By: Green Prophet Guest
Published: June 4, 2010

Since the beginning of the green movement, there has been a rise in the number of organizations and businesses that are doing their part in the promotion of sustainability through conservation. This past Earth Day brought about the Earth Day Network, which has been playing its part to bring conservationist and green enthusiasts together, sharing ideas and discussing new ways to support the planet.

Other large organizations NGOS like Continue Reading →

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Saving the planet means more pleasure, says ecologist Gary Nabhan

By: IPS, part of the Guardian Environment Network
Published: May 25, 2010

Saving the planet from environmental catastrophe is undoubtedly very important, but one of the reasons many people are not doing their bit could be that being green does not seem much fun.

Activists frequently tell us, with good reason, that things such as driving cars, eating red meat and jetting off overseas on holiday should be cut down or eliminated because of ...

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Saving the Planet Can Be Fun

By: IPSnews.net – Paul Virgo
Published: May 23, 2010

ROME – Saving the planet from environmental catastrophe is undoubtedly very important, but one of the reasons many people are not doing their bit could be that being green does not seem much fun.

Activists frequently tell us, with good reason, that things such as driving cars, eating red meat and jetting off overseas on holiday should be cut down or eliminated because of their hefty carbon footprints.

But influential United States-based ...

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Desert oases as genetic refugia of heritage crops: Persistence of forgotten fruits in the mission orchards of Baja California, Mexico

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, Jesus Garcia, Rafael Routson, Kanin Routson and Micheline Cariño-Olvera
Published: April, 2010

The first introductions of agricultural crops to desert oases of Baja California, Mexico were initiated by Jesuit missionaries between 1697 and 1768 and historic records from these Jesuits provided a detailed benchmark by which temporal changes in agro-biodiversity can be measured.

Longitudinal studies at the agricultural oases on the Baja California peninsula of Mexico can help determine whether such isolated “islands” of cultivation function as ...

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Forgotten Fruits Manual & Manifesto – Apples

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, Ben Watson
Published: March, 2010

As part of RAFT’s 2010 “Forgotten Fruits” initiative, this brochure details the history, decline, nursery practices and local restoration efforts designed to bring back the most endangered heirloom apples to orchards, backyards, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and home kitchens across the country.

Download Forgotten Fruits Manual & Manifesto – Apples (PDF – 32 pages, 2.5MB – Published March 2010)

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Ranching to Produce Tacos Sin Carbon: The Low Carbon Foodprint of Grass-fed Beef and Sheep Production in the Semi-Arid West

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, Duncan Blair, and Dennis Moroney
Published: February, 2010

Should the issues of fossil fuel use, carbon emissions generated from the food system and their contribution to global warming influence how ranchers manage their operations and how they sell their livestock for beef? Perhaps ranchers who are consistently good land stewards are doing enough already, so that asking them take on the issue of what happens to their livestock once it leaves the ranch may be asking too ...

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What is the Relevance of Vavilov in the Year of 2010?

Gary Nabhan was recently given the honor of presenting the biennial Vavilov Memorial Lecture in Moscow and offering a similar lecture in Saint Petersburg, and was further honored with the gift of the Vavilov Medal. These are his reflections after years of retracing Vavilov through the centers of food diversity, while writing the book Where Our Food Comes From, and after spending time with the staff of the Vavilov General Genetics Institute in Moscow, and VIR in Saint Petersburg.

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The Bazaar World of Spice Trade – A Report from Asia Minor

I feel a familiarity, even a universality, whenever I enter a spice market in any part of the world: an Arabian souq, a Mexican mercado, a Turkish carsisi.  It is not just my familiarity with the spices themselves that makes me feel this way. Many of them have traveled thousands of miles across land by camel, or water by dhow, to reach marketplaces in all for corners of earthly universe. This is the ancient form of the global economy, and ...

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Drought drives Middle Eastern pepper farmers out of business, threatens prized heirloom chiles

By: Gary Paul Nabhan
Published: January 15, 2010

This marks the launch of Climate Change and Food Culture, a series of posts by Gary Nabhan about how climate change threatens to stamp out some of the globe’s most celebrated foodstuffs, and along with them the farming and cooking cultures that created them.

Most Turks live on the water’s edge in the far western reaches of their vast country. But many of the spices that perfume the air in Turkey’s ...

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Ruminating along the Spice Route in Turkey

When one travels, it is hard not to be struck by just how much of the world’s food biodiversity has found new homes and adapted to new places over the centuries. Visiting markets in Turkey for the first time in my life, I am amazed at how many Old Friends from the New World show up in the Turk’s souks or spice bazaars: cayenne, bell, paprika and cherry peppers, Jamaican allspice, chocolate, vanilla, tomatoes, squashes, fint corns and beans.

Soon after ...

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Let 2010 Be the Year of the Heirloom Apple

While the Chinese will be celebrating 2010 as the Year of the Tiger, we in America have historically had no tigers except those in zoos and circuses. But what we once have had many of—heirloom apples—are now in danger of becoming as rare as tigers are in Asia. Of some 15,000 to 16,000 apples varieties that have been named, grown and eaten on the North American continent, only about 3,000 remain accessible to American orchard-keepers, gardeners, chefs and home ...

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Holidays: Days of Feasting, Days of Fasting

The end-of-the-year word is out: one in seven American families is having trouble putting food on the table, just as we try, each in our own way, to celebrate the Holidays. But what does it mean to celebrate and feast on a Holy Day with hunger at the highest levels it has been in years? With the economic downturn of the last year, far more of our neighbors have had to rely on food banks and food stamps than at ...

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Rare foods experts visit St. Augustine for pepper

By: Richard Villadoniga
Published: November 5, 2009

Gary Nabhan, of the Renewing America’s Food Traditions Alliance and an award-winning writer on food biodiversity, visited St. Augustine recently to research St. Johns County’s datil pepper.

Several years ago. Nabhan first nominated the datil pepper for the Slow Food Ark of Taste, a “Hall of Fame” for rare but flavorful regional foods. Now he and two colleagues are looking at how climate change is affecting food supply, particularly with regard to its ...

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Forgotten Fruits

By: Gary Paul Nabhan
Published: October, 2009

The morning sun is just peeking over the ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains when my friend Jim Veteto and I spot a tall, old-looking apple tree arching over the side of the road. We swerve our rented PT Cruiser to the shoulder and get out. I’m hoping that these apples are Nickajacks, a rare variety that’s native to the highlands of western North Carolina, so I climb onto the ...

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The Sonoran Hotdog Crosses The Border

By: Ted Robbins
Published: August 06, 2009
Click Here to listen to story

Americans’ view of the U.S.-Mexico border is pretty narrow these days — basically, drugs and illegal immigrants.

Of course, there’s more than that if you live there. There’s the area’s tasty food — Baja California fish tacos, Tex-Mex fajitas and the newest cross-border concoction: The Sonoran Hot Dog.

Sitting in the always noisy and crowded Tucson restaurant “El Guero Canelo,” food historian Gary Nabhan says the borderlands ...

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