Few, if any beans come in as many flavors as those of the mesquite trees native to the Southwest, ranging from lemony to nutty and everything in between. Some, however, do not taste good at all. How does one know which ones are good and which ones are not, apart from hazarding a cautious nibble? Well – the birds can tell you! Just watch which ones they favor and you know it has good flavor!
Another creature which is quite fond of mesquite is Aspergillus flavus, an invisible fungus which produces a natural carcinogen known as aflatoxin B1. The fungus develops when the pods are wet, so it is very important to harvest the mesquite pods before the rains come.
Desert Harvesters is a local organization which champions the cultivation of indigenous food crops such as mesquite, using only passive rainwater irrigation. Their website is a treasury of information on how to grow, harvest and process all the good stuff the desert offers us. The Weekly Green spoke with Brad Lancaster, co-founder of Desert Harvesters and author of ‘Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond‘, a two-volume guide on rain water harvesting.
This week’s interview covers indigenous food crops and the events Desert Harvesters is organizing to celebrate the harvesting season, kicking it off with an evening of Story, Food, Drink, and Music at La Cocina on May 31 from 5-10 pm.
A separate interview with Brad on the topic of harvesting water will be broadcast and posted here in the near future.