Restoration Economy

Shifts in Plant Chemical Defenses of Chile Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) Due to Domestication in Mesoamerica

We propose that comparisons of wild and domesticated Capsicum species can serve as a model system for elucidating how crop domestication influences biotic and abiotic interactions mediated by plant chemical defenses. Perhaps no set of secondary metabolites (SMs) used for plant defenses and human health have been better studied in the wild and in milpa agro-habitats than those found in Capsicum species. However, very few scientific studies on SM variation have been conducted in both the domesticated landraces of chile ...

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In the Arizona Desert, Tucson Models Affordable Food Access

UNESCO’s first City of Gastronomy in the U.S. relies on its built-in biodiversity and a wide network of food justice organizations to feed its most marginalized residents.

Tucson is a foodie town. But rather than artisan breads and local avocados drawing crowds of tourists, it’s the relationship between diverse plants and people that earned it the distinction of being the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States in 2015.

The UNESCO distinction came as a result of ...

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Borderlands wildlife doesn’t need the National Guard

Have you ever crossed a national boundary and realized that wildlife had crossed the very same line? We’ve frequently seen the evidence of such crossings, as both of us have lived and worked close to the international boundary with Mexico for much of the last four decades. From endangered pronghorn antelope to lesser long-nosed bats, rufous hummingbirds and monarch butterflies, itinerant species that routinely cross the border have thrilled us with their stunning presence.

These creatures and many others have long ...

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The Teacher: No need to bring this teacher an apple – he’s got a whole seed bank in Waldoboro

‘Our seeds have basically gone all over the world,’ says Neil Lash, who earns the Source Award for Teacher.

Sometime around 1990, Waldoboro school teacher Neil Lash was watching the PBS program “The Victory Garden” when Kent Whealy appeared on the screen. Whealy had co-founded Seed Savers Exchange, one of the largest non-governmental seed banks in the United States and as he talked about the work they done with heirloom seeds, including some that had been brought to the United States ...

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Untold Arizona: Arizona-Grown Tepary Beans Preserve The Past, Hold Promise For The Future

To commemorate Arizona’s birthday, we dispatched our reporters far and wide to bring you stories from the region you’ve probably never heard before. Hear more from our Untold Arizona series.

 

 

Arizona farmer Terry Button grew up eating beans in New England.

“I never sit down to eat a little portion of beans,” he said, grinning. “I eat a big bowl of beans.”

They were his favorite food — baked beans, great northern beans, navy beans, Lima ...

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Tucson a Model in Food Biodiversity, Report Says

A report on Tucson food systems done by The Center for Regional Food Studies at the University of Arizona shows 14 community organizations make Tucson a leader in conserving food biodiversity.

Gary Paul Nabhan is the founding director of regional food studies at the UA. He said nonprofits like Desert Harvesters are thinking long term.

 

 

“Many of these organizations are, in a sense, sewing our future food security by bringing this diversity into our food ecosystem,” Nabhan said.

Jonathan Mabry is ...

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New Report: Tucson is a Leading U.S. City in Food Diversity and Access

Tucson is one of the top cities in the United States conserving and disseminating edible biodiversity and local heritage foods, a new report reveals. Released by the University of Arizona Center for Regional Food Studies, the second annual “State of Tucson’s Food System” documents Tucson’s rich variety of common, heritage, native, and heirloom plant species and varieties available, often at little or no cost, in its local economy.

“This report shows that Tucson’s community organizations have done ...

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Mirror Images

Two UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy, located across the world from each other, offer distinct insights on desert terroir.

I am sitting in an outdoor café on a hot summer day. The café, in Zahle, Lebanon, is on the edge of a broad desert valley that stretches out between two mountain ranges, one of them high enough to capture snow every winter and suffer forest fires most summers. Out of the mountains flows enough snowmelt to allow some irrigation from ...

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The chiltepin pepper has a special home in Santa Cruz County

After enduring a bouncy drive up a rough road heading into the Tumacacori Mountains last Tuesday morning, the group of hikers crossed a shallow rocky canyon on foot. Then, after bushwhacking through spiky desert plants and looking under trees, they found their prize: a single bright red, shriveled chili clinging to a dry chiltepin plant.

The fruit of the chiltepin isn’t always so hard to find at this spot, said Kevin Dahl, an ethnobotanist specializing in desert plants. The ...

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Tortilleria Arevalo’s secret to a healthier tortilla is Peruvian mesquite flour

Esperanza Arevalo wakes up at 3 a.m. every day to make tortillas. She sometimes receives help from her husband and sister-in-law, but for the most part, she’s a one-woman show.

Tortilleria Arevalo started with Esperanza’s father, Javier Arevalo, shortly after 9/11. At the time, Esperanza had just been laid off from her job, so she began helping her father. Years later, when Javier was diagnosed with cancer, Esperanza stepped up and took over the business.

Although making tortillas as a business ...

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Janos Wilder: A Chef’s Journey from Pizza to Paris by Way of Tucson

When UNESCO named Tucson, Arizona a World City of Gastronomy in Dec. 2015, the first U.S. city so named, it put this small desert city on the global map. It also gave a boost to one of its top chefs, Janos Wilder.

In June, Wilder, a James Beard award-winner (2000, Best Chef: Southwest), represented Tucson at a reception in UNESCO’s Paris headquarters before the annual Creative Cities Network conference. In preparation he crafted the menu at his restaurant, Downtown ...

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Activists Envision a Border Wall Made of Solar Panels

President Trump has requested prototypes for what he calls a “physically imposing” and “beautiful” border wall. This week in a meeting with congressional leaders he floated the idea of covering it in solar panels. That’s not a new concept. Quite a few people have been working on solar wall designs. Arizona author and ecologist Gary Paul Nabhan says a solar installation would create clean energy and sustainable jobs for the U.S. and Mexico. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with him about ...

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A Future in the Ancestral

Mesoamerican culinary traditions spanning millennia have influenced the gastronomic heritage of Baja Arizona.

Tacos, tostadas, burritos, sopes, menudos, cazuelas, enchiladas, licuados—the typical foods of modern Mexico that are familiar in the borderlands—are but one set of spinoffs of an ancient Mesoamerican diet.

Since the mid-20th century, two kinds of Mexican diet have been diverging from one another. One is deeply traditional—think tamales, atolespinoles, moles, tepaches, caldos, and nopalitos—while the ...

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Agave Heritage Week: Greg Starr, Ana Valenzuela, David Yetman, Wendy Hodgson, and much more!

It would be hard to find a group of plants which offer such architectural grace and morphological symmetry as agaves do. That’s why Tucsonan Greg Starr’s book from Timber Press, Agaves: Living Sculptures for Landscapes and Containers, is one of the most-lovely horticultural classics ever published.

Greg has spent so much time with the many agave species at his Starr Nursery in the Tucson Mountain foothills ...

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Gary Nabhan: Solar idea is a viable, job-creating option to border wall

Because I have lived within 20 miles of the U.S./Mexico boundary much of my life, the complexity of the debate regarding President Trump’s border wall proposal is not lost on me. I have worked in communities on both sides of the Arizona-Sonora border, the border in the world with the greatest disparity for dwellers on its two sides.

There are horrific differences in access to clean water, healthy food and jobs with livable wages that currently divide Mexican and U.S. citizens. ...

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Put a little wildness back into your food and drink, and you will likely become healthier for it!

Put a little wildness back into your food and drink, and you will likely become healthier for it! Ethnobotanists and archaeologists have uncovered cultural and culinary uses of wild agaves, prickly pears and mesquite that reach back at least 8000 years in the U.S./Mexico borderlands.

Just think about that for a moment: a nitrogen-fixing legume tree, a cactus and a succulent agave have offered food and drink to the hungry and thirsty of our region for a duration at least 25 ...

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Did you know that extensive prehistoric landscapes of mescal fields underlie much of the Tucson Basin?

Did you know that extensive prehistoric landscapes of mescal fields underlie much of the Tucson Basin? Archaeologists Suzanne and Paul Fish have also documented that at least one (or perhaps two) species of agave were prehistorically cultivated by the Hohokam in the Tucson Basin.

There, agaves covered tens of thousands of acres of desert landscapes, as they did from central Sonora to the south and the Grand Canyon to the north. Many of these agricultural landscapes still exhibit prehistorically constructed terraces, rock alignments, rock piles and roasting ...

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How can Tucson and surrounding Sonoran Desert communities revitalize a legacy of using plants such as mezcal both for food and for drink?

“Welcome to the Agave family!” was the way that late Arizona botanist Howard Scott Gentry used to greet aficionados of these wondrously-shaped and deliciously-tasting desert-adapted plants. Of course, many Americans are aware of the fact that is the popular name of a distilled alcoholic beverage, but how many newcomers to Southern Arizona know that it is also the common name for several kinds of native plants that are as good to eat as they are to drink?

Also known as the ...

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State of Tucson’s Food System

On December 11, 2016, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced designation of the City of Tucson as a City of Gastronomy in the Creative Cities Network.

The City partnered with the University of Arizona’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences’ Southwest Center, Edible Baja Arizona magazine, and many other community partners to successfully apply for recognition of Tucson Basin’s rich agricultural heritage, thriving food traditions, and culinary distinctiveness through a UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation.

This publication is ...

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A Fresh Look at Democracy from the Desert

The owl cries out before the dawning light
To all the other desert dwellers, proclaiming
“I’m still here! Maybe you are too!”
But what a here it is,
Yuccas and saguaros marching forth
To cast their ballots somewhere out
Across the rocky, cactus-studded plains
While up above them, in high places
On Frog Mountain, clouds hold a summit
To determine the next legitimate President
Of this parched and broken terrain.
“Well, I’ll try it!” says the eager packrat.
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