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