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WorldWild Podcast

 Episode 15  4th July 2019

Cactus Calls the Rain with Mark Lewis

'You can't cut down the cactus, because the cactus calls the rain,' Mark Lewis' grandpa told him. Many years later, and Mark is harvesting saguaro cactus fruits in the hot Sonoran desert in Arizona. He is a wild food educator and elder and believes strongly that there is no dichotomy of cultivated versus wildlands. As he puts it: 'the people did this, the people selected for these things. It's the getting away from taking care of the land that is making a lot of this stuff rare, it's not foraging that's making thus stuff become extinct'.

He has dedicated his life to understanding this desert and its peoples. In this illuminating talk, he tells us of the heritage of harvesting cacti, the relationship of the desert and man, how supposedly 'weird' foods were once commonplace in the supermarkets of his childhood, and inspires us to see the interconnectedness of all things...  


'It was a self regulated system made and tended and guided by people'

- Mark Lewis, episode 15


About Mark Lewis


Mark Lewis is a forager, wild food teacher and former professor, of Paipai heritage. He runs a market stand called ‘Chmachyakyakya Kurikui: 8000-year Crops: Ancient-Future Foods Remembered’ and runs Cactus Calls the Rain: The Foragers’ Club. Mark has been foraging in the desert and mountains of the Southwestern USA for a long time. The Sonora Desert in Arizona which he harvests from is in itself home to 2000-plus edible plants. He also helps to organise the Annual Prickly Pear Festival in Superior, AZ, which brings together communities from around the desert in a celebration of wild food and culture.



Further reading

About the show


We offer a series of conversations to tap into the wildness within ourselves and to uncover what is possible when we do. It is our hope that through the WorldWild Podcast we can contribute to the revitalisation of wild food culture and conversation around the world.


Through people who know their landscapes intimately, we gather the threads to weave a rich tapestry. Piece by piece the vision of a wilder world comes into view. The wild embrace of nature welcomes us back and offers us a seat at the table. A feast, no less!



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