"Ancient seeds for modern needs," is the motto of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a non-profit organization based in Tucson, Arizona. Since 1983 the group has been collecting seeds of food plants used by the native cultures in the arid region of the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico, sometimes referred to as the Chile Pepper Nation (see NPR link). Their mission has led them not only to conserve the rare crops adapted to arid lands, but also to preserve cultural traditions by distributing crops back to Native American communities.
NS/S maintains around 2000 plant varieties used by peoples of the Chile Pepper Nation and makes available some 350 varieties. The collection includes traditional crops indigenous to N. America, some of their wild relatives and some food plants brought by Europeans that were well suited to the region and were adopted by native cultures. "Over one-half of the accessions are comprised of the three sisters -- corn, bean, and squash," according to the group's website.
Many of the plants have proven to be quite nutritious. In a world where two billion inhabitants, around one third of the global population, live on dry lands, the crops preserved by NS/S are of great importance and should be the subject of further study and distribution.
- Native Seed/SEARCH the website of NS/S
- Food for Thought: That Old Time Nutrition an article that recounts the origin of NS/S from Sierra Magazine published by the Sierra Club
- Endangered List Created for Native Foods an article on the preservation of traditional Native American crops from National Public Radio (NPR)
- Parching Corn an article about growing and preparing a traditional Native American food from the National Gardening Association
- selected texts from Drylands, people, and ecosystem goods and services: A web-based geospatial analysis from the World Resources Institute
- Dry and Sub-humid Lands Biodiversity Introduction from the Convention on Biological Diversity
Posted by Eric La Fountaine at 4:18 PM on January 20, 2006