Redesigning Food Systems

Tucson, Arizona, cultivates its foodie reputation – with a nod from Unesco

The desert surrounding Tucson, Arizona, is filled with soaring Saguaro cactus, their bright red fruits long a delicacy here. The abundance of this native food is one reason why, last December, Tucson became America’s first Unesco city of gastronomy, joining just 18 others worldwide, despite having fewer fancy restaurants than many US cities, and being one of its poorest.

“It’s a city whose food heritage is a big part of its identity,” says Gary Nabhan, director of the University of Arizona’s Center for Regional Food Studies. “Yes we have award-winning chefs, but the vitality of our farm-to-table food system is a key reason why we were recognised.”

The Importance of Indigenous Knowledge in Curbing the Loss of Language and Biodiversity

Biodiversity inventory, monitoring, and species-recovery efforts can be advanced by a dynamic collaboration of Western, citizen, and ethnoscience. Indigenous and local traditional knowledge of place-based biodiversity is perhaps the oldest scientific tradition on earth.

We illustrate how an all taxa biodiversity inventory network of projects in collaboration with the Comcaac (Seri people) in northwestern Mexico is advancing not only biosystematics but also species recovery, habitat restoration, language conservation and maintenance, and the maintenance of traditional livelihoods.

A New Climate for Farming

Feeling the heat yet? The summer of 2015, the hottest in recorded history, melted roads and killed thousands in India and Pakistan. It also prolonged a crippling drought in the American West that triggered controversial water usage restrictions in California.

While it can be hard enough for people to cope with these conditions, what about our food systems? How will farmers and gardeners adapt to this harsh new reality?

A Conversation with Gary Paul Nabhan

30 Minutes spoke with Gary Paul Nabhan, Ph.D., about Tucson’s recent designation as a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy and what that means. He is the newly appointed director for Center

for Regional Food Studies. Nabhan discussed the breadth of Tucson’s food cultures as well as the importance of food justice and food security for everyone in our community.

What Makes Tucson Deserving of the Title of the United States’ First Capital of Gastronomy

Every day, tens of thousands of cars barrel down Interstate 10, a highway that hugs the western edge of Tucson, Arizona. Many of these drivers may not realize that they are driving past a region with one of the longest food heritages on the continent.

Often considered the birthplace of Tucson itself, this swath of Sonoran Desert nestled at the base of the Tucson Mountains is where the O’odham people settled, planting crops of maize, tepary beans and other produce amid a landscape punctuated by prickly pear cacti and sagebrush.

UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Launches New Center for Regional Food Studies

From agricultural sciences to folklore, cutting-edge nutrition to ancient food systems, UA researchers have a long history of researching, documenting and promoting the borderland culinary heritage that makes Tucson a distinct food city.

To coincide with Tucson’s designation as the newest UNESCO City of Gastronomy, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Southwest Center have established the University of Arizona Center for Regional Food Studies.