February 25, 2011
Photo by Gary Paul Nabhan
Excerpted from chapter 3 of Chasing Chiles:
One of the most delightful food discoveries for us in Mérida was xnipek (pronounced SHNEE-peck). The name comes from the Mayan language and means “dog’s nose.” Unappetizing as that might sound at first, rest assured there is no dog in the recipe. It’s simply a reference to this salsa’s heat level. Hot chiles can cause the nose to run, thus the metaphor.
There’s more to xnipek than just heat, though. It not only uses the Yucatecan powerhouse chile—the habanero—but also includes the native fruit known as naranja agria, or bitter orange, which is also the secret to great Yucatecan escabeche. It’s hard to find fresh in the States, so there’s a brief recipe for a reasonable facsimile following our rendition of this fiery relish.
We found many versions of xnipek in our travels around the Yucatán. All had the habanero and bitter orange, but beyond that they varied widely. This is why we prefer the term genuine to authentic—it allows for many interpretations while still remaining true to tradition.
Xnipek is one of the salsas collectively referred to as Pico de Gallo, or “beak of the chicken,” a reference either to the size of the chopped ingredients or to chicken feed. It’s made of many ingredients chopped together to form more of a relish than a sauce (or salsa). Our favorite renditions include the unique addition of fresh cabbage, which adds another layer of flavor and crunch.
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.
February 23, 2011
An excerpt from Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft and Gary Paul Nabhan, Chelsea Green Publishing, March 2011.
When we crossed the US–Mexico border into the estado de Sonora, we could feel something different in the landscape. It was especially visible along the roadsides, a feeling that was palpable in the dusty air. Less than half an hour south of Nogales, Arizona, we began to see dozens of street vendors on the edge of the highway, hawking their wares. There were fruit stands, ceviche and fish tacos in seafood carts, tin-roofed barbacoa huts, and all sorts of garish concrete and soapstone lawn ornaments clumped together. Amid all the runof-the-mill street food and tourist kitsch, we sensed that we might just discover something truly Sonoran.
Dozens of long strings of dried crimson peppers called chiles de sarta hung from the beams of the roadside stands, ready for making moles and enchilada sauces. Hidden among them were “recycled” containers used to harbor smaller but more potent peppers: old Coronita beer bottles and the familiar curvy Coca-Cola silhouette filled with homemade pickled wild green chiltepines. These were what we sought—little incendiary wild chiles, stuffed into old bottles like a chile Molotov cocktail and sold on the street.
via FINDING THE WILDNESS OF CHILES IN SONORA | Spring 2011.
February 18, 2011
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.
February 17, 2011
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.
February 10, 2011
Gary speaks up in the Santa Fe New Mexican about food security in the West.
Whether you’ve noticed it or not, the farming capacity and food security of the border states are at an all-time low, and are likely to get worse before they are fully transformed to more sustainable and cost-efficient systems.
via Food security at historic watershed – The Santa Fe New Mexican.
From Paul Krugman of the NY Times. Climate changes brings about more severe weather events that are hard to predict and prepare for, especially for farmers.
We’re in the midst of a global food crisis — the second in three years. World food prices hit a record in January, driven by huge increases in the prices of wheat, corn, sugar and oils. These soaring prices have had only a modest effect on U.S. inflation, which is still low by historical standards, but they’re having a brutal impact on the world’s poor, who spend much if not most of their income on basic foodstuffs….
So what’s behind the price spike?
…but the evidence tells a different, much more ominous story. While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we’d expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate — which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.
via Droughts, Floods and Food – NYTimes.com.
February 8, 2011
The Napa Valley may be set to become cooler as a consequence of climate change, according to a new in-depth study carried out for the local vintners’ association.
Napa Valley Vintners NVV was prompted to commission the study – Climate and Phenology in Napa Valley: A Compilation and Analysis of Historical Data – by 2006 research which suggested the area would soon become too warm to produce fine wine.
NVV said the original research, led by Bernard Seguin of France’s national agricultural institute INRA, had focused on just a few weather stations in the valley, giving a misleading impression of the overall climatic trend.
Read more at decanter.com.
February 5, 2011
Major droughts in 2005 and 2010 cut into the Amazon's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Drought reduces carbon-absorbing tree growth, and opens the door to more forest fires, which release carbon into the air. Seen here, a Peruvian section of Amazonia. Photo by John W. Poole/NPR
The world’s largest tropical forest, the Amazon, experienced something rare last year — a drought. It wasn’t the earth-cracking kind of drought that happens in the American Southwest or the Australian outback, but it did stunt or kill lots of trees.
It was the second such drought in the Amazon in five years, and forest scientists are trying to understand why these droughts are happening, and what their effects will be for the planet.
The 2005 drought in the Amazon was so unusual that scientists called it a “100-year event” — something supposed to happen only once a century.
via ‘Alarming’ Amazon Droughts May Have Global Fallout : NPR.
February 2, 2011
Very kind words for the soon-to-be-released Chasing Chiles from Poor Man’s Feast blogger/author Elissa Altman:
“Chasing Chiles is nothing short of a brilliant ethno-bio-culinary convergence. It accomplishes what so very few books do; marrying place to flavor and science, the result is a visceral understanding of the profound impact climate change has on the global community and the foods that we always seem to take for granted. Kurt Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gary Nabhan have produced a must-read classic for all time.”
– Elissa Altman, author of Poor Man’s Feast
Wow Elissa – “ALL time”??? Sweet. I can see it now – Chasing Chiles surpasses Bible, Shakespeare, Koran in all time sales…
Really Elissa is being way too kind, but you should go read her blog at http://www.poormansfeast.com/, it’s one of the best food blogs in the biz