KGUN 9NewsLocal News


The process of turning Agave into a source of food

Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 21:14:59-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Agave Heritage Festival is back after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Emily Rockey, garden supervisor at Mission Garden was able to lead her first demonstration of the fire pit and roasting preparation.

Rockey says, “I started to get into eating desert and native foods probably about 10 to 12 years ago.”

But the history of agriculture in Tucson goes far beyond that. Rockey says the process of perfecting agave has been in the works for thousands of years.

Once the crop is ready, they cut off the flowering stock of the agave otherwise the nutrients and sugars go up into the flower stock and not stay in the agave heart. The heart of the agave is what roasts in the pit for three days.

Rockey says, “that’s the part we want to harvest and eat because it’s rich in vitamins.”

For many, agave makes them think of tequila or mescal. Rockey says you can turn agave into your favorite alcoholic beverage by fermenting and distilling it.

But at Mission Garden, that’s not their focus.

Rockey says, “before we go sipping, let’s think about what it was originally used for which was food and fiber.”

Agave also benefits the bat population. Outreach coordinator Kendall Kroesen says, “different agaves are pollinated by different bats and support bat populations.”

He adds, “agave is fascinating because you can plant it and almost not have to irrigate it at all, yet it creates food for you.”

Which is perfect for Southern Arizona.

“The flavors are so unique and they’re so delicious and healthful,” says Rockey.

Heidi Alagha is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Heidi spent 5 years as the morning anchor in Waco where she was named the best anchor team by the Texas Associated Press. Share your story ideas and important issues with Heidi by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.