Tucson, Arizona, has been added to UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network for gastronomy. The designation honours agricultural heritage, food traditions and culinary innovation.
The UNESCO program, established in 2004 to promote co-operation between cities for “sustainable urban development,” has 116 member cities. Tucson is one of six U.S. cities in the network and the only one honoured for gastronomy.
Tucson’s history includes more than 4,000 years of continuous agricultural cultivation, from medicinal herbs and native plants used by the area’s earliest inhabitants through centuries of farming amid a mix of cultures _ Native American, Spanish colonial, Mexican, Anglo-American and more.
The city’s Mission Garden site interprets some of that history with a recreation of a Spanish colonial walled garden that includes heirloom plants and living and timeline gardens.
The city’s culinary scene also includes James Beard award-winning chefs, agricultural research at the University of Arizona and the Native Seeds/SEARCH organization, which conserves and promotes seed and crop diversity.