While you might associate the mesquite tree as the purveyor of seasonal allergies and increased profits at the local CVS, this leguminous plant is actually part of a long-standing agricultural tradition within Baja Arizona. When prepared correctly, the mesquite pod is near to bursting with essential nutrients such as calcium and zinc, and can be ground into a sweet, filling flour.
Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture and the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension are celebrating this Tucson icon next month in the all-day workshop “MESQUITE: New Agricultural Traditions for an Ancient Food,” during which the essentials of utilizing mesquite pods as a food source are explained in depth.
The workshop, which will take place on Friday, June 13 in Benson, features a number of speakers, demonstrations, and vendors extolling the many virtues of the mesquite pod. The agenda includes historical overviews, harvesting techniques, nutritional value information, and food safety talks.
After an introduction by Mark Apel on behalf of the UA Cooperative Extension, the program will proceed through a number of lectures from experts in mesquite usage. Dr. Richard Felger from the UA Herbarium will give an overview of the history of modern mesquite production, followed by a discussion on mesquite management and harvesting on the Tohono O’odham Nation, nutritional values of mesquite for livestock and poultry, large-scale production explanations, examples of non-profits, and food safety information. Among the speakers: Sadhana Ravishankar from the UA School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, Amy Valdes-Schwemm from Desert Harvesters, and agriculture specialist Clifford Pablo.
Attendees will be treated to a culminating demonstration on aflatoxin testing, pod sorting, drying and cooking in solar ovens. Lunch will also be provided for those registered before June 9.
For more information and registration information, click here.