Chasing Chiles

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About the Book,Chiles,Climate Change,Eating Chiles,Interviews,Press,Radio

April 18, 2011

Audio: Chasing Chiles @SpokenWord.org

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The chile pepper has transformed cuisines around the world since it was first brought from the “New World.” As farmers began growing chiles in more and more places, the plants changed and adapted, creating new varieties. Our guests celebrate and fight to preserve the world’s diverse peppers.

via Audio: Chasing Chiles @SpokenWord.org.

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About the Authors,About the Book,Chiles,Climate Change,Eating Chiles,Interviews,Press,Reviews,Science

April 7, 2011

Chasing Chiles profiled in New York Times

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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.

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Biodiversity,Climate Change,Food Safety,Food Security,Research & Studies,Science

April 2, 2011

What’s driving our favorite fruit into decline? | Gary Nabhan on Grist

 

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.

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Climate Change

Tibetan Glaciers Melting, Dalai Lama Claims

NEW DELHI — The Dalai Lama said Saturday that India should be seriously concerned about the melting of glaciers in the Tibetan plateau as millions of Indians use water that comes from there.

The Tibetan spiritual leader quoted Chinese experts as saying that the Tibetan glaciers were retreating faster than any elsewhere in the world.

He called for special attention to ecology in Tibet. “It’s something very, very essential,” he said.

The glaciers are considered vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be threatened.

via Tibetan Glaciers Melting, Dalai Lama Claims.

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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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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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Chiles,Eating Chiles,Video

March 20, 2011

The Bhutt Jolokia: A Cautionary Tale

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From the website eBaumsWorld comes a gentle reminder of the perils of the world’s hottest chile: “I’m having contractions right now.”  Kids, don’t try this at home.

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March 18, 2011

From Edible Madison’s NOTABLE EDIBLES | Spring 2011

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Authors Kraig Kraft, Gary Paul Nabhan and Chef Kurt Michael Friese (all three involved in Edible Communities magazines) traveled the Southwest and Mexico searching out the story of climate change, the most controversial topic of our time, narrowed through the lens of the tiny yet iconic chile pepper and those who farm, cook and eat this fiery and culturally symbolic ingredient. “We had a hunch that climate change wasn’t just out there—in the polar ice caps and in receding glaciers—but in here, in our food system, in our daily bread as well,” the three self-proclaimed “chileheads” write in the introduction. Surprisingly, the chile is a perfect food to follow; it has spread in various varieties to all six inhabited continents and has found its way into main dishes of numerous ethnicities. Part travel narrative, part gastro-exploration, the first chapter had me hooked. I was also pleasantly surprised to read about a pepper that takes its name from a city right here in Wisconsin.

Read the rest at NOTABLE EDIBLES | Spring 2011.

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March 17, 2011

Chasing Chiles Across North America : Gary Nabhan

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Chasing Chiles is both a rollicking travelogue from three guys on the hunt for authentic food and cultural experience and an adventure with a larger, sobering mission: to understand the effects of climate change by zeroing in on one critical crop and the people whose lives are most deeply intertwined with it. Kraft, Friese, and Nabhan seek out and listen to farmers, chefs, and others who rely on the chile, and document their struggle to protect local foods and livelihoods in the face of unpredictable weather, decreased biodiversity, and sporadic availability.

 

 

Courtesy: Gary Paul Nabhan

Over a year-long journey, three pepper-loving gastronauts—an agroecologist, a chef, and an ethnobotanist—set out to find the real stories of America’s rarest heirloom chile varieties, and learn about the changing climate from farmers and other people who live by the pepper, and who, lately, have been adapting to shifting growing conditions and weather patterns. They put a face on an issue that has been made far too abstract for our own good.

Chasing Chiles is not your archetypal book about climate change, with facts and computer models delivered by a distant narrator. On the contrary, these three dedicated chileheads look and listen, sit down to eat, and get stories and recipes from on the ground—in farmers’ fields, local cafes, and the desert-scrub hillsides across North America. From the Sonoran Desert to Santa Fe and St. Augustine the two oldest cities in the US, from the marshes of Avery Island in Cajun Louisiana to the thin limestone soils of the Yucatan, this book looks at how and why climate change will continue to affect our palates and our producers, and how it already has.

via Chasing Chiles Across North America : Gary Nabhan.

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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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