• Conservation You Can Taste:   Saving Forgotten Fruits of the Borderlands

    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.

  • Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey

    Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey

    The closest we armchair travellers normally get to the olfactory sensation of walking through the globe’s most fragrant souks is opening the doors of our spice cupboards. The bottles may be sealed shut but the aroma of their contents —cardamom and cumin, cinnamon and saffron, turmeric and vanilla — wafts towards our nostrils and for a brief moment we are not in our kitchens but strolling through the spice markets of Arabia, Asia or Africa.

  • Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

    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…

  • Desert Terroir, Exploring the Unique Flavors and Sundry Places of the Borderlands

    Desert Terroir, Exploring the Unique Flavors and Sundry Places of the Borderlands

    Why does food taste better when you know where it comes from? Because history—ecological, cultural, even personal—flavors every bite we eat. Whether it’s the volatile chemical compounds that a plant absorbs from the soil or the stories and memories of places that are evoked by taste, layers of flavor await those willing to delve into the roots of real food. In this landmark book, Gary Paul Nabhan takes us on a personal trip into the southwestern borderlands to discover the terroir—the “taste of the place”—that makes this desert so delicious.

  • Gary Paul Nabhan: Mother Nature’s Foodie

    Gary Paul Nabhan: Mother Nature’s Foodie

    Local and sustainable are on the tips of many tongues as more and more people try to eat food that’s good for them and the planet. If you’re a part of this important conversation, you can thank Gary Paul Nabhan for helping to get it started. A Lebanese American living in the Southwestern United States, Nabhan has for more than three decades been writing books, directing research projects, forming farming alliances …

  • Chasing Chiles - Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail

    Chasing Chiles – Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail

    Chasing Chiles looks at both the future of place-based foods and the effects of climate change on agriculture through the lens of the chile pepper—from the farmers who cultivate this iconic crop to the cuisines and cultural traditions in which peppers play a huge role. Why chile peppers? Both a spice and a vegetable, chile […]

  • Our Farm

    Our Farm

    Come on Down to the Farm Gary Nabhan and his wife Laurie Monti have recently purchased a five and a half acre farmstead above the Native Seeds/SEARCH growout farm, where they are demonstrating how desert-adapted agro-biodiversity can be integrated into water-conserving farming systems for climate-friendly food production. Their farmstead is named Almuniya de los Zopilotes—Private […]

Recent Entries

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

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.

Agrarian Ecology

Agrarian Ecology

One might wonder whether any twenty-first-century preoccupation with agrarian values, agrarian ecology, and agrarian ideals comes as too little, too late. Less than 2 percent of the North American public lives in rural areas outside towns, cities, and suburbs, and less than half of the world’s population now lives outside cities.

But the New Agrarianism, which is emerging globally, is not restricted to the rural domain, nor is it necessarily a romantic desire to reenact social behaviors and mores associated with rural populaces in bygone eras.

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

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

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.