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How Fiery Desert Chilis can Protect Us from Climate Change

In the news: Food tank

A landscape of thorny agaves, cacti, mesquite trees, and rock is not the first place one might imagine searching for the future of food. How could such a hot, dry place contain some of the keys to nourishing the world?

We were in the desert, an hour south of Tucson, in southern Arizona. Giant, natural walls of stone rose hundreds of feet above our heads to form a big horseshoe-shaped canyon appropriately named Rock Corral. The heat here can be punishing, and rain is scarce, and that was precisely the point. For the area is home to precious wild plants, tolerant of such stresses, hiding in crevices and under scraggly trees providing just enough shelter for their survival. 

This is one of the places in the United States where wild chili (or chile) peppers grow, for example Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum — known around here as chiltepin. While the plant is important in the region, for seasoning or selling, what of its contribution to the future of food around the world?

Find out on FoodTank

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