Chile Peppers

In this segment, live from Tucson, Arizona, we’ll take a scientific look at the chile pepper, from the chemistry and biology of a pepper’s burn, to the psychology of why some people like it hot. Southwestern Arizona is part of the “chili belt” where most U.S hot peppers get their start. But growing chiles is no low tech task — we’ll talk with a researcher and a farmer about taking jalapeños from seed to shelf, and how science helps them to do it.

And from chiletepins to habaneros — how may Scovile units can you handle? We’ll look at why some cultures seem to really like it hot. We’re broadcasting this week from Tucson, Arizona, as the guests of Arizona Public Media.

Segment Guests

Jeff Silvertooth

Jeff Silvertooth is a professor at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona. He’s based in Tucson, Arizona.

Ed Curry

Ed Curry is a farmer and owner of Curry Seed and Chile Co. He’s based in Pearce, Arizona.

Gary Nabhan

Gary Nabhan is the author of “Why Some Like it Hot: Food, Genes, and Cultural Diversity” (Island Press, 2004). He’s also a research social scientist and adjunct professor at the University of Arizona. He’s based in Tucson, Arizona.

Jean England Neubauer

Jean England Neubauer is the owner of Santa Cruz Chili and Spice Company. She’s based in Tumacacori, Arizona.

Meet the Producer

About Annette Heist

Annette Heist is a former senior producer for Science Friday.