Food Heritage and History

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

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 Gobi Desert, the Arabian Peninsula, the Sahara Desert, and Andalusia, as well as the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Painted deserts of North America…

The Wild, the Domesticated, and the Coyote-Tainted

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 and invertebrates, or in associated oral narratives. While these folk taxa may be called “coyote’s biota” for shorthand, it is necessary to discern whether they all share some common diagnostic features or characteristic values in the cultures which name them.

Chapalote Corn – The oldest corn in North America pops back up

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 staple crop. Instead, the oldest evidence of maize cultivation north of the Tropic of Cancer comes from a desert valley known as the Tucson Basin in southern Arizona, and near the Zuni and Hopi villages of northern Arizona.

Fruit Comes from the Archbishop

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 Rio Colorado.

Cross-Border Credo

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 are concerned by the high rates of poverty and food insecurity on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border; which creates more disparity in economic opportunity and nutritional health than along any other border in the world.

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.

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

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 goods and materials from other local businesses and make alliances with independent-owned restaurants and lodges which feature their beverages.

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

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 the elements of climate change, water scarcity and damage to the soil that our own actions as eaters and consumers have triggered.

Food Justice: An Interview With Gary Nabhan About Borderland Foods

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 the field on both sides of the border to look at this schism.

Genetic Variation and Distribution of Pacific Crabapple

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 making tools and in construction.