Desert Foods Cookbook

Case ID:

This is a cookbook containing recipes specific to local foods from desert environments. It gives an overview of foods that come from desert plants, such as wild chile, agave, and prickly pear fruit, their health benefits, environmental benefits, gardening care, and preparation methods. All recipes are plant-based and designed to take less of a toll on the environment while simultaneously boosting food security and improving health outcomes. The cookbook also contains additional resources on desert food traditions, farms to visit, and where to purchase ingredients. 

Industrialized agriculture is very resource-intensive, relying heavily on water, land, chemicals, and the food production process contributes to human-driven greenhouse gas emissions that further environmental damage, such as extreme heat, flooding, and droughts. Many common crops are unable to survive in the desert’s hot and arid climate. 

Desert food plants are well-equipped to thrive in heat, drought, and poor soils, while using just a fraction of the water and fertilizer needed to grow conventional crops. They have been cultivated and improved by the Indigenous people of the Sonoran Desert for hundreds to thousands of years. Desert food plants provide natural health benefits, such as antioxidants that decrease the risk of many chronic diseases and boost immunity, in addition to improving soil and rainwater retention, providing shade and habitats for wildlife and pollinators. 


  • Plant-based cooking
  • Cooking with regionally sourced ingredients from the desert


  • Improve health outcomes (immunity)
  • Natural health benefits (antioxidants)
  • Boost food security
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Improved environmental resilience
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Lewis Humphreys
Licensing Manager, Eller College of Mngmt & OTT
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
A Departmental Work