I’m Megan—food writer and unprocessed eater. I’m the managing editor of Edible Baja Arizona, a local food magazine serving Tucson and the borderlands, and author of Unprocessed, forthcoming from William Morrow/HarperCollins in 2015. Three years ago, I decided to stop eating processed food and spend money better. Stay tuned for tips & tricks and advice & adventures about unprocessed eating and living.
This article was three months in the making; this story is (one reason) why I’ve neglected you, dear blog. I’m proud of this story.
This article was published in the January/February issue of Edible Baja Arizona.
Near the summit of Sentinel Peak, there are fist-size mortars in the bedrock—thousands of years ago, there would have also been wooden pestles, used to pound into flour the mesquite pods gathered from these hills. Hidden in the thin shade of palo verde trees are shards of pottery sculpted by Hohokam hands. Where the slope of the peak tumbles toward Tucson, buried under layers of packed earth, ancient irrigation canals—the oldest in North America—reveal themselves as buried channels.
“Tucson’s identity for more than 4,000 years was an irrigated agricultural oasis,” says Jonathan Mabry, the historic preservation officer for the City of Tucson, as he strides along the uneven path to the summit. “And it’s only been in the last century or so that this hasn’t been our identity.”
We pause at the top and survey the landscape below. It’s hard to see this identity, squinting into the glare of Tucson’s sprawling development—beyond the flicker of downtown’s high rises, streets stretch toward the horizon of the Catalina and Rincon Mountains. The dry riverbed of the Santa Cruz is barely visible; today, the line that defines the landscape, the I-10 freeway, flows with cars, contoured by cement and commuters rather than wind and water. The city gleams in the sunlight, made of metal and glass, cement and air-conditioning units. The city’s infrastructure seems inevitable. It seems enduring.