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How Fiery Desert Chilis Can Protect Us from Climate Change

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?

Colin Khoury and Gary Paul Nabhan went to the desert, an hour south of Tucson, Arizona. The heat there can be punishing, and rain is scarce, which 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 area is one of a handful of places in the United States where wild chili (or chile) peppers grow.

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Feature image is Chiltepin (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum (Dunal) Heiser & Pickersgill), Courtesy of Gary Paul Nabhan.

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