April 18, 2011
Facing wild weather and dwindling water resources, a pepper grower says it’s time to rethink agriculture
It is spring, and I am kneeling with a few friends in front of the composted soil of the hillside terraces in my orchard-garden in the desert borderlands of Arizona. It is planting day, and as we place each variety of pepper plant into the moistened earth, we say its name aloud, as if reciting a prayer in the face of uncertainty: Chiltepin, Chile del Arbol, Tabasco, Jimmy Nardello, Datil, Beaver Dam, Yellow Hot Banana, Chimayó, Sweet Chocolate, and Sheepsnose. We hand-water each member of this tribe of peppers, place a frost-resistant row cover over it like a monk’s hood, and move on to the next, hoping for the best.
If you have farmed or gardened in the desert for any length of time, you sooner or later learn—in a thousand humbling ways, as I have—that you are not in control of even half of the most essential variables that most converge if you are to return in late summer to harvest a crop. In the face of accelerating climate change, my capacity to control critical factors and predict the outcome of my labors seems ever more limited.
Read the whole article at Farming in the Time of Climate Catastrophe – Gary Paul Nabhan – The Atlantic.
April 7, 2011
Go GARY! Splendid profile of Chasing Chiles co-author Gary Nabhan, his garden and the book in the 4/7/11 edition of the Paper of Record.
THERE was a frost expected here two weeks ago, but Gary Paul Nabhan, a conservation biologist and inveterate seed-saver, was out in his hardscrabble garden anyway, planting his favorite food, hot chilies.
Chiltepin, chile de árbol the one that scrambles up trees, Tabasco, serrano, pasilla, Chimayó. These are only a few of the pungent peppers that Mr. Nabhan and two other chili lovers — Kurt Michael Friese, a chef from Iowa City, and Kraig Kraft, an agro-ecologist studying the origin of hot peppers — collected on a journey that began two years ago, in northern Mexico, and took them across the hot spots of this country.
Read the whole story @ Hot on the Trail of Chili Peppers – In the Garden – NYTimes.com.
April 2, 2011
You’ve heard the hackneyed phrase “as American as apple pie.” But America is not taking care of the apples — or the orchard-keepers — that have nourished us for centuries. In 1900, 20 million apple trees were growing in the U.S.; now, not even a fourth remain in our orchards and gardens. Today, much of the apple juice consumed in the U.S. is produced overseas. Of the apples still grown in America, just one variety — Red Delicious — comprises 41 percent of the country’s entire crop, and 11 varieties account for 90 percent of all apples sold in stores.
When Joe Twine of Richmond, Ky., was growing up, “It was a must to have an orchard. [My father] had orchards…he had apples come in at all times of the year,” he recalls. “You don’t see ‘em anymore.”
via What’s driving our favorite fruit into decline? | Grist.
April 1, 2011
“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.
February 24, 2011
While there has been extensive research on the effects of climate change on food security, less well-known is the effect of climate change on food safety.
But new evidence suggests that climate change is already putting the safety of our food at risk, and that things are only going to get worse.
Food security and food safety are inextricably linked. Climate change decreases food security by causing extreme weather that wipes out crops and livestock populations. And when food supplies are insecure, food safety diminishes.
According to experts at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, when food becomes scarce, people consume more unsafe foods. For example, in areas where climate change has decimated food resources, illnesses associated with mycotoxin molds are becoming more prevalent as people try to stretch their meager food supply over longer periods of time.
Read the whole story via Eat Drink Better.