Restoration Economy

My Turn: In search of equality for Arizona farmworkers

A half century since Cesar Chavez led a national boycott of grapes to highlight the civil rights of farmworkers, the status of both immigrant and native contributors to Arizona’s food system is still in debate. Although Chavez left an indelible mark on our agricultural history, we must look and see how much more equity Arizona’s food system has now than during Chavez’s march on Delano, Calif., 50 years ago.

How have the civil rights for farmworkers of various races and cultures fared over the past half-century in Arizona? And what next steps need to be taken to ensure justice and equity for all those who bring Arizonans their daily bread?

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.

Tucson Designated UNESCO World City of Gastronomy

We’ve known it—those of us who eat here have tasted it. We’ve felt it in the soil under our fingernails. We’ve seen it in the magenta stain of prickly pear. We’ve heard it in the hammer mill grinding sweet speckled mesquite; smelled it in the exhale of steam from a crowded pot of tamales.

Tucson has always been a city of gastronomy. Today, it was designated a World City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), becoming the first city in the United States to receive such a designation.

The Road to UNESCO – Tucson ambitiously seeks to be recognized as the first creative city for gastronomy in the country—but is it realistic?

The winding, rocky road up to Gary Nabhan’s Patagonia home is definitely not suited for a sedan. It gets pretty hairy a couple of times while creeping up the path going just a few miles per hour upward, but there, at the top of a hill with a beautiful vantage of a couple local farms, is Nabhan’s rustic Southwestern home.

The irony is that, in trying to figure out what makes Tucson a gastronomic destination, driving an hour south of the city and into another county actually makes a lot of sense…

Pollinator Plants of the Desert Southwest

The Desert Southwest harbors at least 41 of the 76 milkweed (Asclepias spp.) species known to exist in the lower 48 states. The species richness of milkweeds in this region is influenced by the tremendous diversity and range of vegetation types, soils, topography, climate, and the exposure of unusual rock types that occur over more than a 9,000 foot elevation range.

The nectar of milkweed flowers is attractive to dozens of insects including bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. The bees that milkweed flowers attract to agricultural landscapes are important for pollinating a wide variety of vegetable forage and fruit crops.

Conservation You Can Taste: Saving Forgotten Fruits of the Borderlands

Three hundred years ago, Spanish missionaries introduced a suite of arid-adapted fruit and herb varieties to the Sonoran Desert region, many of which have barely survived to this day.

These desert-adapted, heirloom fruits enriched the diets and diversified the farms indigenous and immigrants alike, but fell out of availability and culinary fashion. Today, these forgotten fruits are once again needed because they are tolerant of heat, drought and even alkaline conditions.

Mexican farmers are trucking produce into an Arizona town—where tons of it gets thrown into landfills

Nogales, Arizona, is the largest inland food port in the world. Much of the fresh produce trucked up the “food superhighway” of Mexico’s west coast comes through there—and a shocking amount of it doesn’t travel much farther, dropping into local landfills instead of being sent to consumers.

It’s a loss to the farmers who harvested the food and to the consumers who would have eaten it…

Award-Winning Sundance Film Offers ‘Innovative Solutions to Mend our Broken Food System’

Sundance Institute premiered the Short Film Challenge today at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The program “is designed to spark global conversation about solutions to challenges like extreme hunger and poverty,” according to Sundance. Beginning today, the short films will premiere on a variety of digital platforms.

There were 1,387 submissions from 89 countries on, a creative platform “which powered a global call for film entries that used the transformative power of storytelling to generate discussion…

Cowboy Keynote: Speaker urges honest discourse in land disputes

The most contentious disagreements over land management pit ranchers against environmentalists in range wars with endless back-and-forth battles.

But the stakeholders overwhelmingly agree with one another on a majority of issues, according to Gary Paul Nabhan, a professor at the University of Arizona, and this year’s keynote speaker for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.