Desert Harvesters thanks the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona for its support! (Desert Harvesters: Appreciating the Native Foods of the Southwest)

Thanks to the financial support of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona’s Punch Woods Endowment Grant, you will soon be able to get a copy of Desert Harvesters’ new cookbook, “Eat Mesquite and More! A Sonoran Desert Living Cookbook!”

In 2015, we Desert Harvesters set out to build on the energies of a growing volunteer base and the voices of our community, to revise and expand our “Eat Mesquite! A Cookbook” into a more comprehensive guide to teach our community how to plant, harvest, cook, and enjoy rain-fed, wild desert foods where they live, work, and play.

Our latest cookbook goes well beyond the uses of naturally sweet and nutritious mesquite pods, containing planting, harvesting, and processing tips and recipes for over 20 additional perennial Sonoran desert food plants (including desert ironwood, palo verde, cholla, prickly pear, barrel cactus, chiltepin, oreganillo, and more).

The Punch Woods Endowment Grant was key in helping fund the huge community effort that goes into producing such a publication as ours. After countless hours of recipe recruiting, coordination, creation, and testing, we at Desert Harvesters have 328 wild Sonoran Desert food recipes in our recipe bank!

Over 40 authors submitted recipes. These authors range from renowned chefs, such as Janos Wilder; to cookbook authors, such as Carolyn Niethammer; to community activist organizations, such as Tohono O’odham Community Action and their Desert Rain Cafe; to restaurateurs and craft brewers who utilize local wild foods, such as EXO Roast Coffee and Iron John’s Brewing; to many skilled home cooks.

The submitted recipes were then reviewed by one of two means: community tasting events, or review by community volunteers, who then tested the recipes both for their quality as well as ease of replication. Only the top recipes made it through the vetting process into the cookbook.

Great food attracts great company and the sharing of great stories, so the cookbook also includes short stories and articles ranging from the medicinal uses of our wild food plants; to culinary fusions of myriad ethnic foods incorporating wild Sonoran edibles; to how to enhance the health of ourselves and home with the planting and foraging of wild food plants; to how different people, businesses, and organizations are reconnecting us with place by making wild Sonoran Desert food plants part of our daily experience and delight—so you can do the same and more!

We are in final editing stage now. The cookbook should be available before the summer rains—just in time for the mesquite pod harvest and milling season! Check the Desert Harvesters calendar of events regularly for new postings of events—including guided harvests, processing workshops, and the cookbook’s release.

And sign up to volunteer and learn with us!