August 14, 2011
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 |.
May 26, 2011
It seems that over the past few years, there have been a number of books that make us think about food, where it comes from, and how it impacts our health. I’m thinking of Michael Pollan’s many top-selling titles, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, or Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle… the titles are numerous and I’ve been impressed with nearly all of the “food books” that I’ve read over the past few years (in fact it’s become one of my genres of choice). Author’s Kurt Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gray Nabhan make their own offering to the field with their recent title Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail with a new take on the food book.
Rather than focusing solely on the experience of food or its origins, Chasing Chiles takes a broader glance at the infamous chile pepper and its future in a world challenged by “global weirding” (a more robust term referencing the weather patterns created by global warming used by the authors). The authors follow the story of six different types of chile peppers within their indigenous locations in North America. During each of their pepper “hunts” the roving gastronauts (as they refer to themselves) explore the chile-laced cuisine of each region while taking the time to learn the history behind each species of pepper as well as to glance into its future.
Read the rest at Chasing Chiles – Book Review – Urban Times – Optimistic, Forward-Thinking.
May 17, 2011
Chasing Chiles co-author Kraig Kraft has a lot to tasy to his fellow New Mexicans about proposed chile labeling laws…
The news coming from New Mexico’s chile industry is disheartening. In 2010, a meager 8,700 acres were harvested, the smallest amount in 37 years. Facing stiffer competition from places overseas with cheap and abundant labor, and confronted with another prolonged drought, the future for New Mexico’s chile industry looks bleak.
While the recently passed House Bill 485, the New Mexico Chile Advertising Act, aims to protect the New Mexico chile by making it illegal for a person to “knowingly advertise, describe, label or offer for sale chile peppers as New Mexico chile, or to advertise, describe, label or offer for sale a product as containing New Mexico chile, unless the chile peppers or chile peppers in the product were grown in New Mexico,” it is too little too late.
U.S. marketplaces are flooded with cheaper produce shipped in from abroad: Fuji apples and grapes from Chile, garlic from China, cucumbers and tomatoes from Mexico.
Read the whole op-ed at ABQJournal Online » Hot Under Collar Over Fake N.M. Chiles.
April 30, 2011
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.
April 26, 2011
In an article posted on The Atlantic’s website last week, Gary Paul Nabhan, co-author of Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail, addressed the relationship between farming in the Southwest and climate change—both food production and food security have been cast into question with the growing scarcity of water and unpredictable growing seasons and weather patterns, such as drought.
Nabhan points out that with water capacity near its limit for cities and rural agricultural areas, “food security in the Southwest depends upon the security of water supplies being delivered to irrigable land. That capacity, we can now see, has been severely impaired by urban growth in the Sunbelt since World War II, and is likely to be further impacted by the vagaries of weather shifts.”
Read the whole story at Improve Your “Foodprint”: Farming and Climate Change |.
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 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.