Internationally recognized food and farming activist Gary Paul Nabhan says Tucson gardeners do a good job recognizing the importance of harvesting rainwater to grow crops in the desert climate. But on the heels of Tucson’s warmest year on record, Nabhan feels more can be done.
“There’s been a lot of emphasis on things like harvesting water, but not much on the other ways that deal with scarce water and cooling crops,” says Nabhan.
It’s been roughly fifteen years since the food localization movement gained ground nationally, but some communities and states have lagged far behind others in recovering or newly building vibrant local food economies.
And yet, many are still grappling with how true democratizing food systems and innovative financing can tangibly make a difference in relieving poverty, food insecurity, and their dark twins of hunger and obesity.
Gary Paul Nabhan wants to put Tucson on the map as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, joining places like Popayán, Colombia, Chengdu, China, and Östersund, Sweden, as outposts of gastronomic excellence. “We’re … prematurely celebrating what I think will be a major international designation for Tucson,” he said.
Nabhan hopes this title will bring recognition to Tucson’s vibrant, multiethnic gastronomy community and to the fact that the city has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation. In spite of Tucson’s standing as a city with considerable food diversity, many Tucsonans lack access to sufficient quantities of safe, nutritional food.