Thursday, June 8 at 6pm at Collected Works Bookstore.
If Agave Spirits offers new hope for desert agriculture in the Southwest and Mexico, it is by imagining how important a variety of agave products–not just tequila and mezcal—will be in the future, If they grown in ways that use less water and pull down more carbon than conventional crop systems. That means integrating agaves into desert agroforestry systems where soil is built and retained rather than washed away. It means that agaves are not just roasted for distilled spirits, but also for probiotic fermented beverages, syrups, molasses and salad dressings, and for edibles akin to jicama and pineapple.
Many of these products will be hypoglycemic “slow release” odds and beverages that help control diabetes, cholesterol build up, heart disease and cancer–four of the diseases of oxidative stress that are killing off Indigenous and other peoples in the Americas at unprecedented rates. Use agave’s desert adaptations to their greatest advantage in heterogeneous farming systems and diets, instead of growing them like sugar cane and blowing them to smithareens to get high fructose syrup as toxic as that from corn and most so-called agave nectars. And treat the skilled professionals like the knowledgeable artisans than they are rather than as cheap labor.
Make the world a better place by putting agaves in their appropriate place in culture, agriculture and food systems.
Gary Paul Nabhan (born 1952) is an Agricultural Ecologist, Ethnobotanist, Ecumenical Franciscan Brother, and author whose work has focused primarily on the interaction of biodiversity and cultural diversity of the arid binational Southwest. He is considered a pioneer in the local food movement and the heirloom seed saving movement.
He co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH while working at the University of Arizona, with both organizations co-hosting the first-ever national conference on community-based seed banks and heirloom seed saving. Native Seeds is a non-profit conservation organization which works to preserve place-based Southwestern agricultural plants as well as knowledge of their uses (1982-1993). He then served as director of conservation, research and collections at both the Desert Botanical Garden (1986-1993) and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (1993-2000), where he did the research to help Secretary Bruce Babbitt create Ironwood Forest National Monument.
Collected Works Bookstore
202 Galisteo Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501