Chasing Chiles

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Biodiversity,Chiles,News,Research & Studies

August 14, 2011

Tour The Ultimate Chilehead Garden

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Whether pepper gardening is your passion, or you’re just getting started with that first pot of plants, from now through October you can visit the gardens at New Mexico State University’s Fabian Garcia Science Center in Las Cruces. There you’ll see peppers being grown the way the pros do it, and possibly pick up some growing tips to take home!

Fabian Garcia was a horticulturist who produced the first reliable chile pod in the early 1900s, which was the beginning of the hot “Sandia” pepper. Other pepper cultivars have also been developed at NMSU, including more than 40 varieties of the NuMex chile. They don’t just limit their pepper proficiency to green chile, however. According to Director Paul Bosland, the theme of this year’s garden is “Chile Pepper Flavor From Around the World.” Visitors will find chile peppers whose names refer to Europe Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, the Caribbean Cuba, Jamaica, Tobago, Trinidad, and various places in New Mexico Chimayo, Mesilla, Santa Fe, Zia Pueblo, as well as other points on the globe.

via Tour The Ultimate Chilehead Garden |.

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About the Authors,About the Book,Chiles,Climate Change,News,Press

May 6, 2011

Hot stuff: chile peppers, climate change, and the future of food | Grist

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Climate change is the issue of our time. Its ill effects will fall heaviest on the people who have least contributed to it: billions in the global south. But no one will escape the impact of the warming climate, and one place it will manifest most obviously is on our plates. If we look at chile peppers, for example, it’s easy to see how the negative effects of climate change have affected the food on our plates and the farmers behind that food.

In their new book, Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail, authors (and self-titled “gastronauts”) Gary Nabhan, Kurt Michael Friese, and Kraig Kraft clear a path in the rubble on their beloved “spice ship,” with the chile pepper as their guide. You’ll never see hot sauce in the same way again. In this interview, the three spoke as a team, so I’ve conglomerated their answers to reflect their pepper-infused mind-meld.

Red teh interview @ Hot stuff: chile peppers, climate change, and the future of food | Grist.

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chile drinks,Chiles,Eating Chiles,News

May 5, 2011

Ghostface Killah signs off on Colorado’s Ghost Face Killah, the hottest beer in the world

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When news about the hottest beer in the world, Ghost Face Killah, went national, the staff at Boulder’s Twisted Pine Brewing was a little nervous. After all, they’d named the beer, which is made with ghost peppers, after rapper Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang Clan without asking for his permission.

But this week, Wu-Tang’s manager called Twisted Pine founder Bob Baile and signed off on it. His only request: a couple of cases sent to New York.

Read the whole story at Ghostface Killah signs off on Colorado’s Ghost Face Killah, the hottest beer in the world – Denver Restaurants and Dining – Cafe Society.

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About the Authors,About the Book,Biodiversity,Chiles,Climate Change,Eating Chiles,Food Security,Habanero,Images,Interviews,News,Press,Radio,Recipes

April 30, 2011

Hot Topic: A lesson in climate change and chili peppers | Marketplace From American Public Media

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Kurt & Kraig went out to LA and made dinner for Kai Ryssdal and the crew of Marketplace from American Public Media.  It aired on their show on Friday, April 29, 2011:

There are more than 10,000 varieties of chili peppers, and they are big business. But climate uncertainty is affecting the cultivation of some peppers.

Kai Ryssdal: Take a moment now to consider the chili pepper. There are more than 10,000 varieties. We eat ‘em. We season our food with them. They go into arthritis creams and shampoos, pesticides and, yes, pepper sprays. In 2007 — the last year we have the data for — American farmers grew more than 800,000 tons of chili peppers. Twenty-six million tons worldwide, half of that in China.

So, needless to say, they’re big business. Beyond the commercial, though, chili peppers are important in cuisines and cultures all over the world. Which helps explain why I found myself shopping for chilies in a Mexican market the other day with a chef…

Kurt Friese: I’m Kurt Friese. I’m the chef.

And an agroecologist.

Kraig Kraft: Hi, I’m Kraig Kraft. I’m the agroecologist.

A what? Let me just say he knows more about chilies than you and I would ever want to know.

Read the whole transcript or listen to the radio story @ Marketplace From American Public Media.

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About the Authors,About the Book,Chiles,Climate Change,Eating Chiles,Habanero,Images,Interviews,News,Science

April 1, 2011

Telling The Story Of Climate Change By Way Of Chile Peppers | Earth Eats – Indiana Public Media

“Chasing Chiles” brings the problem of climate change to our plates by exploring one of North America’s most diverse food plants: chile peppers.

Kurt Michael Friese and two other chile lovers went on a year-long adventure to experience some of America’s most interesting pepper varieties – from datil peppers only found in St. Augustine, Florida to the wild chiltepin peppers of Sorona, Mexico. They tasted local cuisine and experienced various pepper cultures firsthand.But Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail gives the reader insight into more than just tasting and cooking these fiery foods. Friese and his colleagues spoke with farmers who are struggling to stay afloat sometimes literally as climate change wreaks havoc on weather patterns and, therefore, their yields.Earth Eats spoke with Friese from his home in Iowa. Along with co-authoring Chasing Chiles, he is the owner and Chef Emeritus of Devotay in Iowa City and the publisher of Edible Iowa River Valley magazine.

Read the whole interview at Earth Eats – Indiana Public Media.

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About the Book,News,Reviews

March 21, 2011

The Wall Street Journal Praises Chasing Chiles

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Ancient Mexicans were gathering and eating chile peppers 9,000 years ago, but the pungent pods didn’t make it to the rest of the world until Christopher Columbus introduced them in the early 16th century. Since then chiles have become an intricate part of cuisines as varied as those of Spain, Hungary, Turkey and Indochina.

The authors of “Chasing Chiles”—Kurt Michael Friese (a chef), Kraig Kraft (an agroecologist) and Gary Paul Nabhan (an ethnobotanist)—observe that the chile has served as a vegetable (think grilled or stuffed peppers), a condiment (Tabasco), a pest repellent, a medicine (in parts of Africa chiles are a remedy for piles, though the cure may be worse than the disease) and even the poison on an archer’s arrow tip. All of which explains why more than 25 million metric tons of chili peppers are harvested annually world-wide.

Read the whole review at Book Review: Chasing Chiles – WSJ.com.

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About the Authors,About the Book,News

March 5, 2011

A rollicking quest for chiles ‘Along The Pepper Trail’ – The Santa Fe New Mexican

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Everyone loves a book that has a good quest at its center, be it a great white whale, a holy grail or, in the case of ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan, chef Kurt Friese, and agro-ecologist Kraig Kraft, rare and heirloom chiles.Their new book, Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along The Pepper Trail Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011, is a rollicking ride, a “spice odyssey” that begins in Mexico and continues through several places in America where chile peppers are an integral part of the culture. The trio is passionate about its pursuit and, in the grand old tradition of a road-trip story, the book is chock-full of recipes, humorous adventures, chile lore and, most importantly, sobering statistics on the effects of climate change on food and agriculture.

via A rollicking quest for chiles ‘Along The Pepper Trail’ – The Santa Fe New Mexican.

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Chiles,Food Security,News

March 1, 2011

New Mexico Takes Its Chile, and Threats to It, Seriously. – NYTimes.com

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SANTA FE, N.M. — There are not many things New Mexicans cherish more than chile.

Not the soupy stuff from Texas or Cincinnati — that is chili, with an ‘i’ — but the fiery red or green sauce drawn from peppers plucked on New Mexico’s sun-soaked farms.

For generations here, locals have slathered their food with it, argued about who serves the hottest and whispered recipes passed on from tias, abuelas — aunts and grandmothers — and even the occasional East Coast transplant.

But these days, the state’s legendary chile industry may be in trouble.

Despite an increased demand around the country, chile harvesting in New Mexico has plummeted in the past 20 years. Farmers and suppliers say they are being priced out by cheaper foreign peppers and betrayed by impostors who falsely claim to sell New Mexico chile in restaurants and supermarkets and at roadside stands.

Read the whole story at the Paper of Record: NYTimes.com.

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Climate Change,News,Research & Studies

February 18, 2011

Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the U.S. (2011) | Union of Concerned Scientists

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Agriculture accounts for about 6 percent of total heat-trapping emissions in the

United States, and beef production alone accounts for 2.2 percent of the total—roughly the equivalent of the annual emissions of 24 million cars or light trucks, or 33 average-sized coal-fired power plants. So while the emissions contribution of beef production may sound small, it is not an insignificant part of the problem.

The good news is that beef production can also be part of the solution. A February 2011 Union of Concerned Scientists report, Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the United States, looks at ways pasture-based beef producers could lower their climate emissions and take greater advantage of pastures’ capacity to remove heat-trapping carbon from the atmosphere and store it in soil.

Read more via Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the U.S. (2011) | Union of Concerned Scientists.

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Climate Change,News

February 17, 2011

Study Links Rise in Rain and Snow to Human Actions

An increase in heavy precipitation that has afflicted many countries is at least partly a consequence of human influence on the atmosphere, climate scientists reported in a new study.

In the first major paper of its kind, the researchers used elaborate computer programs that simulate the climate to analyze whether the rise in severe rainstorms, heavy snowfalls and similar events could be explained by natural variability in the atmosphere. They found that it could not, and that the increase made sense only when the computers factored in the effects of greenhouse gases released by human activities like the burning of fossil fuels.

Read the whole story @ Study Links Rise in Rain and Snow to Human Actions – NYTimes.com.

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