by Kimi Eisele
For hardy desert dwellers, springtime means foraging for food amidst the cactus spines. Cholla buds are rich in calcium and magnesium and, like nopales, fall low on the glycemic index, which means they can help stabilize blood sugar. In a time of pandemic, finding nourishment from the desert — and from the people who know it well — takes on special significance. BorderLore editor Kimi Eisele produced this audio essay on the intangible cultural heritage of cholla harvesting.
Special thanks to Vanessa Barchfield for production support.
All photos by Kimi Eisele:
Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA) works to create a healthy, sustainable and culturally vital community on the Tohono O’odham Nation in Southern Arizona.
The blog Savor the Southwest offers bountiful tips and recipes for desert harvesting.
Desert Harvesters’ Eat Mesquite and More: A Cookbook for Sonoran Desert Foods and Living (2018) offers recipes and information about harvesting over 15 desert foods, including cholla.