Winner of the Society for Economic Botany’s Klinger Book Award
The Akimel O'odham, or Pima Indians, of the northern Sonoran Desert continue to make their home along Arizona's Gila River despite the alarming degradation of their habitat that has occurred over the past century. The oldest living Pimas can recall a lush riparian ecosystem and still recite more than two hundred names for plants in their environment, but they are the last generation who grew up subsisting on cultivated native crops or wild-foraged plants. Ethnobiologist Amadeo M. Rea has written the first complete ethnobotany of the Gila River Pima and has done so from the perspective of the Pimas themselves.
At the Desert's Green Edge weaves the Pima view of the plants found in their environment with memories of their own history and culture, creating a monumental testament to their traditions and way of life. Rea first discusses the Piman people, environment, and language, then proceeds to share their botanical knowledge in entries for 240 plants that systematically cover information on economic botany, folk taxonomy, and linguistics. The entries are organized according to Pima life-form categories such as plants growing in water, eaten greens, and planted fruit trees. All are anecdotal, conveying the author's long personal involvement with the Pimas, whether teaching in their schools or learning from them in conversations and interviews.
At the Desert's Green Edge is an archive of otherwise unavailable plant lore that will become a benchmark for botanists and anthropologists. Enhanced by more than one hundred brush paintings of plants, it is written to be equally useful to nonspecialists so that the Pimas themselves can turn to it as a resource regarding their former lifeways. More than an encyclopedia of facts, it is the Pimas' own story, a witness to a changing way of life in the Sonoran Desert.
When migrating birds and other creatures move along a path of plant communities in bloom, they follow what has come to be known as a nectar trail. Should any of these plants be eliminated from the sequence—whether through habitat destruction, pests, or even aberrant weather—the movement of these pollinators may be interrupted and their very survival threatened. In recent efforts by ecologists and activists to envision a continental-scale network of protected areas connected by wildlife corridors, the peculiar roles of migratory pollinators which travel the entire length of this network cannot be underestimated in shaping the ultimate conservation design.
This book, a unique work of comparative zoogeography and conservation biology, is the first to bring together studies of these important migratory pollinators and of what we must do to conserve them. It considers the similarities and differences among the behavior and habitat requirements of several species of migratory pollinators and seed dispersers in the West—primarily rufous hummingbirds, white-winged doves, lesser long-nosed bats, and monarch butterflies. It examines the population dynamics of these four species in flyways that extend from the Pacific Ocean to the continental backbone of the Sierra Madre Oriental and Rocky Mountains, and it investigates their foraging and roosting behaviors as they journey from the Tropic of Cancer in western Mexico into the deserts, grasslands, and thornscrub of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. The four pollinators whose journeys are traced here differ dramatically from one another in foraging strategies and stopover fidelities, but all challenge many of the truisms that have emerged regarding the status of migratory species in general. The rufous hummingbird makes the longest known avian migration in relation to body size and is a key to identifying nectar corridors running through northwestern Mexico to the United States. And there is new evidence to challenge the long-supposed separation of eastern and western monarch butterfly populations by the Rocky Mountains as these insects migrate.
Conserving Migratory Pollinators and Nectar Corridors in Western North America demonstrates new efforts to understand migratory species and to determine whether their densities, survival rates, and health are changing in response to changes in the distribution and abundance of nectar plants found within their ranges. Representing collaborative efforts that bridge field ecology and conservation biology in both theory and practice, it is dedicated to safeguarding dynamic interactions among plants and pollinators that are only now being identified.
Imagine sending a number of nature writers out into the same unrelenting stretch of Sonoran Desert. Then consider telling them to focus their attention on just one animal—Ovis canadensis, popularly called the desert bighorn or borrego cimarrón—and have them write about it. Have them write from makeshift blinds or from behind a gun barrel. Have them write while walking across the Cabeza Prieta at night, or while flying over it trying to radio-collar the creatures. Have them write from actual sightings of the animals or simply from their tracks and droppings. What would result from such an exercise is Counting Sheep, an unusual anthology that demonstrates the range of possibilities in nature writing. While ostensibly a collection of writings about these desert sheep that live along the U.S.-Mexico border, it also represents an attempt to broaden the scope of the natural history essay. Writers trained in a wide range of disciplines spanning the natural and social sciences here offer a similarly diverse collection of writings, with women's, Hispanic, and Native American views complementing those in a genre long dominated by Anglo men. The four sections of the anthology comprise pre-Anglo-American tradition, examples of early nature writing, varied responses by modern writers to actually counting sheep, and a selection of essays that place bighorns in the context of the larger world. Counting Sheep celebrates the diversity of cultural responses to this single animal species in its Sonoran Desert habitat and invites readers to change the way in which they view their relationship to wild creatures everywhere. It also shows how nature writers can delight us all by the varied ways in which they practice their craft.
David E. Brown
William T. Hornaday
Gary Paul Nabhan
Harley G. Shaw
Anita Alvarez de Williams
Terry Tempest Williams
Longtime residents of the Sonoran Desert, the Tohono O'odham people have spent centuries living off the land—a land that most modern citizens of southern Arizona consider totally inhospitable. Ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan has lived with the Tohono O'odham, long known as the Papagos, observing the delicate balance between these people and their environment. Bringing O'odham voices to the page at every turn, he writes elegantly of how they husband scant water supplies, grow crops, and utilize wild edible foods. Woven through his account are coyote tales, O'odham children's impressions of the desert, and observations on the political problems that come with living on both sides of an international border. Whether visiting a sacred cave in the Baboquivari Mountains or attending a saguaro wine-drinking ceremony, Nabhan conveys the everyday life and extraordinary perseverance of these desert people in a book that has become a contemporary classic of environmental literature.
Ecological Restoration of Southwestern Ponderosa Pine Forests brings together practitioners and thinkers from a variety of fields—including forestry, biology, philosophy, ecology, political science, archaeology, botany, and geography—to synthesize what is known about ecological restoration in ponderosa pine forests and to consider the factors involved in developing and implementing a successful restoration effort. The book examines:
• the overall context for restoration—ecological, social, economic, political, and philosophical • how ecosystem processes such as fire, hydrology, and nutrient cycling are affected by restoration activities • treatment effects on specific ecosystem components such as trees, understory plants, animals, and rare or invasive species • the details of implementing restoration projects, including smoke management, the protection of cultural resources, and monitoring
Each section is introduced with a case study that demonstrates some of the promise and pitfalls of restoration projects.
Ecological Restoration of Southwestern Ponderosa Pine Forests is the second book in the series The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration from the Society for Ecological Restoration International and Island Press.
As biological diversity continues to shrink at an alarming rate, the loss of plant species poses a threat seemingly less visible than the loss of animals but in many ways more critical. In this book, one of America's leading ethnobotanists warns about our loss of natural vegetation and plant diversity while providing insights into traditional Native agricultural practices in the Americas.
Gary Paul Nabhan here reveals the rich diversity of plants found in tropical forests and their contribution to modern crops, then tells how this diversity is being lost to agriculture and lumbering. He then relates "local parables" of Native American agriculture—from wild rice in the Great Lakes region to wild gourds in Florida—that convey the urgency of this situation and demonstrate the need for saving the seeds of endangered plants. Nabhan stresses the need for maintaining a wide gene pool, not only for the survival of these species but also for the preservation of genetic strains that can help scientists breed more resilient varieties of other plants.
Enduring Seeds is a book that no one concerned with our environment can afford to ignore. It clearly shows us that, as agribusiness increasingly limits the food on our table, a richer harvest can be had by preserving ancient ways.
This edition features a new foreword by Miguel Altieri, one of today's leading spokesmen for sustainable agriculture and the preservation of indigenous farming methods.
Ethnobiology holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many because of its dedication to celebrating the knowledge and values of some of the most distinctive cultural practices in some of the most distinctive places on Earth. Yet we live in a world of diminishing natural and linguistic diversity. Whether due to climate change or capitalism, homogeneity is trumping the once-resplendent heterogeneity all around us.
In this important new collection, Gary Paul Nabhan puts forth a call for the future not only of ethnobiology but for the entire planet. He articulates and broadens the portfolio of ethnobiological principles and amplifies the tool kit for anyone engaged in the ethnobiosphere, those vital spaces of intense interaction among cultures, habitats, and creatures.
The essays are grouped into a trio of themes. The first group presents the big questions facing humanity, the second profiles tools and methodologies that may help to answer those questions, and the third ponders how to best communicate these issues not merely to other scholars, but to society at large. The essays attest to the ways humans establish and circumscribe their identities not only through their thoughts and actions, but also with their physical, emotional, and spiritual attachments to place, flora, fauna, fungi, and feasts.
Nabhan and his colleagues from across disciplines and cultures encourage us to be courageous enough to include ethical, moral, and even spiritual dimensions in work regarding the fate of biocultural diversity. The essays serve as cairns on the critical path toward an ethnobiology that is provocative, problem-driven, and, above all, inspiring.
Faith in a Seed contains the hitherto unpublished work The Dispersion of Seeds, one of Henry D. Thoreau's last important research and writing projects, and now his first new book to appear in 125 years.With the remarkable clarity and grace that characterize all of his writings, Thoreau describes the ecological succession of plant species through seed dispersal. The Dispersion of Seeds, which draws on Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, refutes the then widely accepted theory that some plants spring spontaneously to life, independent of roots, cuttings, or seeds. As Thoreau wrote: "Though I do not believe a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders." Henry D. Thoreau's Faith in a Seed, was first published in hardcover in 1993 by Island Press under the Shearwater Books imprint, which unifies scientific views of nature with humanistic ones. This important work, the first publication of Thoreau's last manuscript, is now available in paperback. Faith in a Seed contains Thoreau's last important research and writing project, The Dispersion of Seeds, along with other natural history writings from late in his life. Edited by Bradley P. Dean, professor of English at East Carolina University and editor of the Thoreau Society Bulletin, these writings demonstrate how a major American author at the height of his career succeeded in making science and literature mutually enriching.
America has never felt more divided. But in the midst of all the acrimony comes one of the most promising movements in our country’s history. People of all races, faiths, and political persuasions are coming together to restore America's natural wealth: its ability to produce healthy foods.
In Food from the Radical Center, Gary Nabhan tells the stories of diverse communities who are getting their hands dirty and bringing back North America's unique fare: bison, sturgeon, camas lilies, ancient grains, turkeys, and more. These efforts have united people from the left and right, rural and urban, faith-based and science-based, in game-changing collaborations. Their successes are extraordinary by any measure, whether economic, ecological, or social. In fact, the restoration of land and rare species has provided—dollar for dollar—one of the best returns on investment of any conservation initiative.
As a leading thinker and seasoned practitioner in biocultural conservation, Nabhan offers a truly unique perspective on the movement. He draws on fifty years of work with community-based projects around the nation, from the desert Southwest to the low country of the Southeast. Yet Nabhan’s most enduring legacy may be his message of hope: a vision of a new environmentalism that is just and inclusive, allowing former adversaries to commune over delicious foods.
Vegan, low fat, low carb, slow carb: Every diet seems to promise a one-size-fits-all solution to health. But they ignore the diversity of human genes and how they interact with what we eat.
In Food, Genes, and Culture, renowned ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan shows why the perfect diet for one person could be disastrous for another. If your ancestors were herders in Northern Europe, milk might well provide you with important nutrients, whereas if you’re Native American, you have a higher likelihood of lactose intolerance. If your roots lie in the Greek islands, the acclaimed Mediterranean diet might save your heart; if not, all that olive oil could just give you stomach cramps.
Nabhan traces food traditions around the world, from Bali to Mexico, uncovering the links between ancestry and individual responses to food. The implications go well beyond personal taste. Today’s widespread mismatch between diet and genes is leading to serious health conditions, including a dramatic growth over the last 50 years in auto-immune and inflammatory diseases.
Readers will not only learn why diabetes is running rampant among indigenous peoples and heart disease has risen among those of northern European descent, but may find the path to their own perfect diet.
The Forgotten Pollinators
Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan Island Press, 1996 Library of Congress QK926.B835 1996 | Dewey Decimal 574.524
Consider this: Without interaction between animals and flowering plants, the seeds and fruits that make up nearly eighty percent of the human diet would not exist.In The Forgotten Pollinators, Stephen L. Buchmann, one of the world's leading authorities on bees and pollination, and Gary Paul Nabhan, award-winning writer and renowned crop ecologist, explore the vital but little-appreciated relationship between plants and the animals they depend on for reproduction -- bees, beetles, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, bats, and countless other animals, some widely recognized and other almost unknown.Scenes from around the globe -- examining island flora and fauna on the Galapagos, counting bees in the Panamanian rain forest, witnessing an ancient honey-hunting ritual in Malaysia -- bring to life the hidden relationships between plants and animals, and demonstrate the ways in which human society affects and is affected by those relationships. Buchmann and Nabhan combine vignettes from the field with expository discussions of ecology, botany, and crop science to present a lively and fascinating account of the ecological and cultural context of plant-pollinator relationships.More than any other natural process, plant-pollinator relationships offer vivid examples of the connections between endangered species and threatened habitats. The authors explain how human-induced changes in pollinator populations -- caused by overuse of chemical pesticides, unbridled development, and conversion of natural areas into monocultural cropland-can have a ripple effect on disparate species, ultimately leading to a "cascade of linked extinctions."
Gathering the Desert
Gary Paul Nabhan; Illustrations by Paul Mirocha University of Arizona Press, 1985 Library of Congress QK211.N33 1985 | Dewey Decimal 581.61097217
Winner of the John Burroughs Association’s John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing and a Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association
To the untrained eye, a desert is a wasteland that defies civilization; yet the desert has been home to native cultures for centuries and offers sustenance in its surprisingly wide range of plant life. Gary Paul Nabhan has combed the desert in search of plants forgotten by all but a handful of American Indians and Mexican Americans. In Gathering the Desert readers will discover that the bounty of the desert is much more than meets the eye—whether found in the luscious fruit of the stately organpipe cactus or in the lowly tepary bean.
Nabhan has chosen a dozen of the more than 425 edible wild species found in the Sonoran Desert to demonstrate just how bountiful the land can be. From the red-hot chiltepines of Mexico to the palms of Palm Springs, each plant exemplifies a symbolic or ecological relationship which people of this region have had with plants through history. Each chapter focuses on a particular plant and is accompanied by an original drawing by artist Paul Mirocha. Word and picture together create a total impression of plants and people as the book traces the turn of seasons in the desert.
The Devil’s Highway—El Camino del Diablo—crosses hundreds of miles and thousands of years of Arizona and Southwest history. This heritage trail follows a torturous route along the U.S. Mexico border through a lonely landscape of cactus, desert flats, drifting sand dunes, ancient lava flows, and searing summer heat. The most famous waterhole along the way is Tinajas Altas, or High Tanks, a series of natural rock basins that are among the few reliable sources of water in this notoriously parched region.
Now an expert cast of authors describes, narrates, and explains the human and natural history of this special place in a thorough and readable account. Addressing the latest archaeological and historical findings, they reveal why Tinajas Altas was so important and how it related to other waterholes in the arid borderlands. Readers can feel like pioneers, following in the footsteps of early Native Americans, Spanish priests and soldiers, gold seekers and borderland explorers, tourists, and scholars.
Combining authoritative writing with a rich array of more than 180 illustrations and maps as well as detailed appendixes providing up-to-date information on the wildlife and plants that live in the area, Last Water on the Devil’s Highway allows readers to uncover the secrets of this fascinating place, revealing why it still attracts intrepid tourists and campers today.
The Nature of Desert Nature
Edited by Gary Paul Nabhan University of Arizona Press, 2020 Library of Congress QH88.E94 2020 | Dewey Decimal 577.54
In this refreshing collection, one of our best writers on desert places, Gary Paul Nabhan, challenges traditional notions of the desert. Beautiful, reflective, and at times humorous, Nabhan’s extended essay also called “The Nature of Desert Nature” reveals the complexity of what a desert is and can be. He passionately writes about what it is like to visit a desert and what living in a desert looks like when viewed through a new frame, turning age-old notions of the desert on their heads.
Nabhan invites a prism of voices—friends, colleagues, and advisors from his more than four decades of study of deserts—to bring their own perspectives. Scientists, artists, desert contemplatives, poets, and writers bring the desert into view and investigate why these places compel us to walk through their sands and beneath their cacti and acacia. We observe the spines and spears, stings and songs of the desert anew. Unexpected. Surprising. Enchanting. Like the desert itself, each essay offers renewed vocabulary and thoughtful perceptions.
The desert inspires wonder. Attending to history, culture, science, and spirit, The Nature of Desert Nature celebrates the bounty and the significance of desert places.
Thomas M. Antonio
Alberto Búrquez Montijo
Alison Hawthorne Deming
Father David Denny
Thomas Lowe Fleischner
Alberto Mellado Moreno
Gary Paul Nabhan
Octaviana V. Trujillo
Benjamin T. Wilder
Where and what is the place of the wild? Is the goal of preserving biodiversity across the landscape of North America compatible with contemporary Western culture?Place of the Wild brings together original essays from an exceptional array of contemporary writers and activists to present in a single volume the most current thinking on the relationship between humans and wilderness. A common thread running through the volume is the conviction that everyone concerned with the natural world -- academics and activists, philosophers and poets -- must join forces to re-establish cultural narratives and shared visions that sustain life on this planet.The contributors apply the insights of conservation biology to the importance of wilderness in the 21st century, raising questions and stimulating thought. The volume begins with a series of personal narratives that present portraits of wildlands and humans. Following those narratives are more-analytical discourses that examine conceptions and perceptions of the wild, and of the place of humanity in it. The concluding section features clear and resonant activist voices that consider the importance of wildlands, and what can be done to reconcile the needs of wilderness with the needs of human culture.
How much of science is culturally constructed? How much depends on language and metaphor? How do our ideas about nature connect with reality? Can nature be "reinvented" through theme parks and malls, or through restoration?Reinventing Nature? is an interdisciplinary investigation of how perceptions and conceptions of nature affect both the individual experience and society's management of nature. Leading thinkers from a variety of fields -- philosophy, psychology, sociology, public policy, forestry, and others -- address the conflict between perception and reality of nature, each from a different perspective. The editors of the volume provide an insightful introductory chapter that places the book in the context of contemporary debates and a concluding chapter that brings together themes and draws conclusions from the dialogue.In addition to the editors, contributors include Albert Borgmann, David Graber, N. Katherine Hayles, Stephen R. Kellert, Gary P. Nabhan, Paul Shepard, and Donald Worster.
The array of bottles is impressive, their contents finely tuned to varied tastes. But they all share the same roots in Mesoamerica's natural bounty and human culture.
The drink is tequila—more properly, mescal de tequila, the first mescal to be codified and recognized by its geographic origin and the only one known internationally by that name. In ¡Tequila! A Natural and Cultural History, Ana G. Valenzuela-Zapata, the leading agronomist in Mexico's tequila industry, and Gary Paul Nabhan, one of America's most respected ethnobotanists, plumb the myth of tequila as they introduce the natural history, economics, and cultural significance of the plants cultivated for its production.
Valenzuela-Zapata and Nabhan take you into the agave fields of Mexico to convey their passion for the century plant and its popular by-product. In the labor-intensive business of producing quality mescal, the cultivation of tequila azul is maintained through traditional techniques passed down over generations. They tell how jimadores seek out the mature agaves, strip the leaves, and remove the heavy heads from the field; then they reveal how the roasting and fermentation process brings out the flavors that cosmopolitan palates crave.
Today in Oaxaca it's not unusual to find small-scale mescal-makers vending their wares in the market plaza, while in Jalisco the scale of distillation facilities found near the town of Tequila would be unrecognizable to old José Cuervo. Valenzuela-Zapata and Nabhan trace tequila's progress from its modest beginnings to one of the world's favored spirits, tell how innovations from cross-cultural exchanges made fortunes for Cuervo and other distillers, and explain how the meteoric rise in tequila prices is due to an epidemic—one they predicted would occur—linked to the industry's cultivation of just one type of agave.
The tequila industry today markets more than four hundred distinct products through a variety of strategies that heighten the liquor's mystique, and this book will educate readers about the grades of tequila, from blanco to añejo, and marks of distinction for connoisseurs who pay up to two thousand dollars for a bottle. ¡Tequila! A Natural and Cultural History will feed anyone's passion for the gift of the blue agave as it heightens their appreciation for its rich heritage.
The future of our food depends on tiny seeds in orchards and fields the world over. In 1943, one of the first to recognize this fact, the great botanist Nikolay Vavilov, lay dying of starvation in a Soviet prison. But in the years before Stalin jailed him as a scapegoat for the country’s famines, Vavilov had traveled over five continents, collecting hundreds of thousands of seeds in an effort to outline the ancient centers of agricultural diversity and guard against widespread hunger. Now, another remarkable scientist—and vivid storyteller—has retraced his footsteps.
In Where Our Food Comes From, Gary Paul Nabhan weaves together Vavilov’s extraordinary story with his own expeditions to Earth’s richest agricultural landscapes and the cultures that tend them. Retracing Vavilov’s path from Mexico and the Colombian Amazon to the glaciers of the Pamirs in Tajikistan, he draws a vibrant portrait of changes that have occurred since Vavilov’s time and why they matter.
In his travels, Nabhan shows how climate change, free trade policies, genetic engineering, and loss of traditional knowledge are threatening our food supply. Through discussions with local farmers, visits to local outdoor markets, and comparison of his own observations in eleven countries to those recorded in Vavilov’s journals and photos, Nabhan reveals just how much diversity has
already been lost. But he also shows what resilient farmers and scientists in many regions are doing to save the remaining living riches of our world.
It is a cruel irony that Vavilov, a man who spent his life working to foster nutrition, ultimately died from lack of it. In telling his story, Where Our Food Comes From brings to life the intricate relationships among culture, politics, the land, and the future of the world’s food.
Do your ears burn whenever you eat hot chile peppers? Does your face immediately flush when you drink alcohol? Does your stomach groan if you are exposed to raw milk or green fava beans? If so, you are probably among the one-third of the world's human population that is sensitive to certain foods due to your genes' interactions with them.
Formerly misunderstood as "genetic disorders," many of these sensitivities are now considered to be adaptations that our ancestors evolved in response to the dietary choices and diseases they faced over millennia in particular landscapes. They are liabilities only when we are "out of place," on globalized diets depleted of certain chemicals that triggered adaptive responses in our ancestors.
In Why Some Like It Hot, an award-winning natural historian takes us on a culinary odyssey to solve the puzzles posed by "the ghosts of evolution" hidden within every culture and its traditional cuisine. As we travel with Nabhan from Java and Bali to Crete and Sardinia, to Hawaii and Mexico, we learn how various ethnic cuisines formerly protected their traditional consumers from both infectious and nutrition-related diseases. We also bear witness to the tragic consequences of the loss of traditional foods, from adult-onset diabetes running rampant among 100 million indigenous peoples to the historic rise in heart disease among individuals of northern European descent.
In this, the most insightful and far-reaching book of his career, Nabhan offers us a view of genes, diets, ethnicity, and place that will forever change the way we understand human health and cultural diversity. This book marks the dawning of evolutionary gastronomy in a way that may save and enrich millions of lives.