Chile Pepper Nation

The hottest, driest food nation on the continent, Chile Pepper Nation is also the spiciest. This region stretches from the southern reaches of the Colorado Plateau or Painted Desert down through the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Mohave deserts, encompassing the intervening semiarid uplands as well. It has the oldest extant agricultural traditions of any region north of the Tropic of Cancer, with 4,000-year-old corn remains having been found near Tucson, Hopi, and Zuni.
This binational region also has the greatest surviving linguis­tic diversity of native peoples of any region and the largest populations of Native American language speakers. Hispanic, Arab, and Basque farming and herding traditions blended with indigenous ones here more than three centuries ago, resulting in a bewildering diver­sity of heirloom vegetables, corns, and beans. The region is also rich in wild edible cacti and legumes but has lost most of its fish, as dams and groundwater pumping destroyed most of its riverside habitats and freshwater springs.
Rapid urbanization since World War II has fragmented farm and ranch lands and usurped most of their waters. As a result, at least 174 traditional foods are now threatened or endan­gered in Chile Pepper Nation.
– excerpted from Renewing America’s Food Traditions, edited by Gary Nabhan, with the permission of Chelsea Green Publishing (
Disappearing Foods
* Acoma Pumpkin Squash
* Apache Trout
* Black Pinto Bean
* Cochiti Pepper
* Hopi Yellow Lima Bean
* I'itoi's Shallot/Papago Onion
* Navajo Clingstone Peach
* New Mexico Native Ground Cherry/Tomatillo
* Prescott Tomato
* See Full List
Tips to preserve heritage and heirloom foods:
* Become a seed saver through the Seed Saver Exchange (
* Purchase heirloom produce and heritage livestock breeds (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy,
* If you think a food is endangered, nominate it to the Slow Ark of Taste,
* Support community agriculture, farmers' markets and local food groups.
* Attend events that celebrate local foods.
Read more about Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT).
Disappearing Foods (Full List)
Acoma Blue Flour Corn
Acoma Popcorn
Acoma Pumpkin Squash
Alcalde Pepper
Apache Giant Cushaw Squash
Apache Red Flour Corn
Apache Red Sugarcane Sorghum
Apache Trout
Arizona White Grapefruit
Aztec Dwarf White Runner Bean
Belle of Santa Fe Black Oxheart Sour Cherry
Big Cheese Squash
Big Mountain (Dine) Blue Flour Corn
Black Mission/Franciscan Date
Black Pinto Bean
Black Sphinx Date
Caguama, Tewa Turtle Bean
Cassaba Melon
Chapalote Flint/Popcorn
Chia, Golden Chia
Chiltepin Pepper
Chimayo Melon
Chimayo/Native New Mexican Pepper
Cochiti Blue Flour Corn
Cochiti Pepper
Cochiti Pueblo Cushaw Squash
Cochiti Pueblo Pepper
Cochiti Pueblo Popcorn
Cocopah Brown Tepary Bean
Cocopah Multicolored Sweet Corn
Cocopah White Tepary Bean
Concho White Flour Corn
Corriente Cattle
Cuaresma Cushaw Squash
Del Norte Bean
Desert Tortois
Duncan Dent Corn
Early Baart Spring White Wheat
El Guique/casados Pepper
Emory Oak Acorn/Bellota
Emory/Bellota Acorn
Encinal Blue Flour Corn
Escondida Blue Flour Corn
Escondida Pepper
Fort Marcy Cholla Cactu
Four Corners Gold Bean
Four Corners Runner Bean
Garbanzo Del Norte Garbanzo
Gila Cushaw Squash
Gila River Hegari Sorghum
Gila Trout
Gulf Corvina Sea Trout
Gulf/Cabrilla Grouper
Haba Del Norte Fava
Hohokam/Murphey's Mescal Agave
Hopi Beige Lima Bean
Hopi Black Dye Bean
Hopi Black Tepary Bean
Hopi Casaba Melon
Hopi Grape
Hopi Gray Lima Bean
Hopi Greasy Hair Corn
Hopi Orange Squash
Hopi Orange-red Flour/Flint Corn
Hopi Pale Gray Squas
Hopi Pink Flour Corn
Hopi Pumpkin Squash
Hopi Red Flour Corn
Hopi Red Lima Bean
Hopi Seedling Apricot
Hopi Sweet Corn
Hopi Vatnga Cushaw Squash
Hopi White Flour Corn
Hopi White Peach
Hopi White Squash
Hopi White Tepary Bean
Hopi Yellow Bean
Hopi Yellow Flour Corn
Hopi Yellow Lima Bean
Hopi Yellow-meated Watermelon
Huazontle (Goosefoot)
I'itoi's Shallot/Papago Onion
Isleta Blue Flour Corn
Isleta Pepper
Isleta White Flour Corn
Jackbean, Chickasaw Lima Jack Bean
Jarales Pepper
Jemez Blue Flour Corn
Jemez White Flour Corn
Jicarilla Apache Concho White Flint Corn
Kokoma, Hopi Purpleback Corn
Leatherback Sea Turtle
Little Barley
Manzanitas Mexicanas Apples
Masked Bobwhite Quail
McMahon's Texas Bird Pepper
Mexican June "Chico" Corn
Minnie's Apache Blue Hubbard Squash
Mission Hawthorn
Mojave Flour Corn
Nambe White Flint Corn
Navajo (Dine) Blue Flour Corn
Navajo (Dine) Gold Flour Corn
Navajo (Dine) Robin's Egg Flour Corn
Navajo (Dine) White Flour Corn
Navajo Clingstone Peach
Navajo-Churro Sheep
New Mexico Field Pea
New Mexico Hispanic Alegria Amaranth
New Mexico Melon
New Mexico Native Ground Cherry/Tomatillo
New Mexico Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake
O'odham (Papago) Lentil
O'odham Brown Tepary Bean
O'odham Green Pea
O'odham Ke:li Ba:so (Old Lady's Knees) Melon
Page Springs Agave
Palmer’s Saltgrass
Papago/Sonoran White Pomegranate
Patagonia Pepper
Penasco Cheese Squash
Pico De Pajaro Pepper
Pima Beige Tepary Bean
Pima Club Wheat
Pima Lima Bean
Pima White Flint Corn
Pinacate Black Tepary Bean
Posole Dry Corn
Prescott Tomato
Pueblo Red Dye amaranth
Pueblo Red-meated Winter Watermelon
Puebloan (Hopi) Dye Sunflower
Red Malaga Grape
Redblush Grapefruit
Reventador Corn
Rio Lucio Concho Flour Corn
Sacred Mountain Agave
Salt River Pima Tan Pea
San Felipe Pepper
San Felipe Publo Black Seeded Sorghum
San Felipe Pueblo Blue Corn
San Felipe Pueblo White Corn
San Felipe Pueblo White Tepary Bean
San Juan Pepper
San Juan Pueblo Cushaw Squash
Santa Fe/Santo Domingo Red-seeded Sorghum
Santo Domingo Blue Corn
Santo Domingo Casaba Melon
Santo Domingo Native Melon
Santo Domingo Pepper
Santo Domingo Pueblo Cushaw Squash
Santo Domingo White Corn
Saugui Sonoran Panicgrass
Snake in the Shed Melon
Sonoran Pronghorn
Sonoran Quince
Spotted Cabrilla Grouper
Spotted Junefish/Mero Guasa Grouper
Taos Blue Flour/Flint Corn
Texas Black Amber Molasses Sorghum
Texas Indian Squash
Texas Mission/Prolific Almond
Texas Shoepeg Sweet Corn
Texas Tart Jujube
Thornless Key Lime
Tohono O'odham (Papago)
Tohono O'odham 60-day (Papago 60-day) Corn
Tohono O'odham June Corn
Tohono O'odham Pink Bean
Tohono O'odham Red-brown Tepary Bean
Tohono O'odham White Tepary Bean
Tohono O'odham Yellow Bean
Tohono O'odham Yellow Watermelon
Totoaba Sea Trout
Velarde Peppe
Washington Navel Orange, Parent/ Old Linr
Wenk's Yellow Hot Pepper
White Mountain Apache Red Seeded Sorghum
White Sonora Bread Wheat
Yoeme (Yaqui) Beige-brown Tepary Bean
Zapallo Plomo Squash
Zia Pepper