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Codorniz de Tucson

February 12, 2012


Manuchurian Quail

(Post Written by Sara) A few weeks ago I went to meet Amy and André at Codorniz de Tucson, to see the quail that would provide eggs for our Lunar New Year dinner. I had originally intended to write a blog post about the quail. I wanted to include a romantic story about how the first quail were bred by a Japanese emperor for their song. I had a list of ‘cute’ words that I wanted to work into the post. But as I sat down to write about my visit I changed my mind. Sure, the quail were every bit as cute as can be expected, but when I went to meet André and Amy I became more interested in their story. They do a great job working with the quail, which are housed in a large, professional and clean enclosure. They are also both students at the University of Arizona. In addition to their studies at the university, they work in the school garden at Davis Bilingual Elementary through a program run by the University of Arizona Geography Department and the Tucson Community Food Bank. They are also interns with the Youth Farm Project, working at the Community Food Bank’s new community urban farm, las Milpitas de Cottonwood. Urban farming is not just something that is happening on rooftops in New York and schoolyards in California, it is happening in Tucson too. There are so many people in Tucson who are feeding, teaching and connecting people through urban farming. And there are many more people pushing the papers to help make it happen. Beyond that there are the artists; photographers, dancers, musicians and chefs who are doing creative collaborations with the organizations and individuals involved in urban farming and local food. I have been aware of this growing community in Tucson for a while now, but had somehow come to take it for granted. Meeting Amy and André reminded me of just how valuable everyone’s efforts are and I am really grateful to them for that. Shortly after meeting with these two another reminder of the great things going on in our town was wheat pasted on the walls of Tucson’s downtown library. The huge images of Youth Farm Project participants are a perfect example of the artistic collaboration going on in Tucson food community. If you live in Tucson you have go down and check it out, if not a link to some photos on a Tucson Mural blog is here. As for the quail, they are, well, adorable. The Coturnix quail are rounder than the local quail and they lack the distinct head feather, but they have remarkably beautiful feathers. Their vocalizations, while not exactly emperor’s songs, are more soothing than a rooster cock-a-doodling or a hens incessant clucking. And I did learn about those eggs. They are amazingly nutritionally dense. The Coturnix quail are prolific layers, converting the food they consume into eggs more efficiently than a chicken, each quail laying about 300 eggs per year. And because of their tiny size they are perfect backyard layers. Those thinking about raising chickens may want to reconsider and learn more about quail. And if you don’t want to raise your own you can get your eggs from Codorniz de Tucson at any of the Community Food Bank’s Farmers Markets. While you’re at the market take some time to be grateful for all the people who are doing amazing things in the Tucson food community.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 12, 2012 4:47 am

    Here here!

    Thanks to the Tucson Food Bank and the Tucson CSA we have gone from supporting our local producers to being producers of our own. We are growing more in our backyard than we can consume. So….we share with our neighbors, not just the food but the inspiration.

    I love to introduce people to the CSA or the Food Bank or the Pima County Library (Seed Library – support it!). Hell…sharing a packet of seeds or baking an extra loaf of bread has brought on fantastic conversations with (until then unknown) neighbors.

    Eggs, vegetables, cheese, beer, bread, bacon…and here we are living in a ‘desert’.

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