Tucson Celebrating Cultural Heritage, UNESCO Gastronomy Designation

Published: Friday, September 1, 2017 - 4:09pm
Updated: Friday, September 1, 2017 - 4:19pm

Tucson has gained quite a bit of attention lately for its burgeoning food scene.

Especially since 2015, when our neighbor to the south was designated a World City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization — or UNESCO. It was the first city to receive the designation in the U.S.

This weekend they’re celebrating that cultural heritage with the first annual Heritage Foods Festival.

So Tucson certainly gets bragging rights for this UNESCO designation, but what exactly does it mean that it’s a World City of Gastronomy?

The city got the designation because the Sonoran Desert has the longest agricultural history of any city in the U.S.

It recognizes the city’s distinctive cuisine, its history of seed cultivation — and innovations that they’re sharing with other desert cities throughout UNESCO’s creative cities network today.

I spoke with Gary Nabhan more about this. He’s a nature writer, agrarian activist and ethnobiologist who was behind the effort to get Tucson this UNESCO designation. He also founded the Center for Regional Food Systems … which is trying to help jumpstart projects focused on food justice in Tucson.

The Heritage Foods Festival is this weekend at the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort in Tucson. Nabhan will be there to speak on a panel about the city’s UNESCO status.

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