We heard rumors of a burgeoning food scene in Phoenix. We were skeptical but decided to fly in for a few days to see for ourselves. Then we learned that the heat can be so intense in Phoenix that it can ground flights. How can that even happen? (Apparently, the maximum operating temperature for many airplanes is just shy of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). Above that temperature the heat becomes a negative factor in the physics of flight, making high-heat takeoffs risky.)
So, back to the food. In a place where it is so hot that sometimes airplanes don’t work, how can a healthy agricultural system be sustained? Here’s where you might think we would launch into a story about the latest high-tech, temperature-controlled factory farm that shelters crops from the relentless heat. Fortunately, no. That would likely be super energy intensive and wasteful. But the story is no less high-tech.