Image credit: Cricket Bread
We TreeHuggers love to talk about biodiversity in our food systems, and tend not to be a big fan of monocultures (though some farmers are admittedly experimenting with more efficient forms of industrial monoculture). By nurturing a broad genetic range of crops, we encourage resilience, we build up disease and pest resistance, and we create sustainable, productive farming systems with longer harvest periods. But diversity isn't just about these material advantages—it's good for the soul too. That's why I'm already getting excited about my community's third annual pepper festival. People get pretty worked up about the humble pepper around here.The 3rd Annual Pittsboro Pepper Festival being held on the 3rd of October here in the Triangle region of North Carolina is set to feature over 40 different varieties of peppers grown by seed saving superstar Doug Jones. Visitors will be tasting and ranking the peppers—ranging from the seriously hot to the unctuously sweet and everywhere in between. Also in attendance will be a dozen of the region's best chefs, Triangle Brewery will be pouring out their habanero pale ale, and music will be provided by the formidable local outfit—the Holy Ghost Tent Revival. It should be a pretty hot shindig. (If you don't believe me, check out local foodie blog Victus Populi's post on the Pepper Festival.)
When I mentioned to a friend that I was selling tickets for a pepper festival, he looked at me like I needed to get out more. But in many ways, the rebirth of foodie festivals like this is a full-circle return to times when we were moreaware of the importance of farming to our culture, and to our very survival. Just as the oh-so-hip Crop Mob is really a revival of the traditional barn raising, so too the idea that we would gather together to marvel at the bounty of our fields is really nothing more than a new version of the harvest festivals that have been celebrated in every culture around the world since the beginning of history.
(In the interests of transparency, I should note that I am on the board of the Abundance Foundation which puts on this annual pepper-pa-looza. For more information about who we are and what we do, check out my original post about the Abundance Foundation back in 2007.)