Tucson is one of the top cities in the United States conserving and disseminating edible biodiversity and local heritage foods, a new report reveals. Released by the University of Arizona Center for Regional Food Studies, the second annual "State of Tucson’s Food System" documents Tucson’s rich variety of common, heritage, native, and heirloom plant species and varieties available, often at little or no cost, in its local economy.

"This report shows that Tucson’s community organizations have done more to improve affordable access to food biodiversity than efforts known in any other major city in North America," says Gary Paul Nabhan, the founding Director of the Center for Regional Food Studies and the report’s lead author.

The report estimates that Tucsonans have local access to more than 2000 seed varieties of desert-adapted vegetables, grains, legumes and herbs, and more than 200 species of domesticated fruit, nut, berry, and succulent edibles. These food crop varieties originated in many indigenous, immigrant, and refugee communities, many of whom now directly-marketing their heritage produce and artisanally-prepared food products for local consumption.

Read the full article about Tuscon's biodiversity efforts at Food Tank.