Las Cruces Magazine

Fall/Winter 2015-16

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Local Flavor Fall/Winter Edition 2015-16 I 23 The New Mexico chile name has some notoriety. According to the New Mexico Certified Chile Association (NMCA), 80 percent of consumers who regularly purchase chile products believe it is important that their chile is grown in New Mexico. Unfortunately, this also leads to products produced outside the state utilizing the "Hatch" or "NM Grown" label. "Think of it like Vidalia onions or Florida oranges," explains NMSU's Dr. Stephanie Walker. "They long ago realized they had a great product and the marketing strength of a brand name. People who know New Mexico chile love it. They always want their fix even if they've moved away. It's important that we recognize true New Mexico growers to reward them and benefit the industry." The New Mexico Chile Advertising Act, passed in 2011, was a good first step. This requires companies to provide verification before labeling products as grown in state. "Three years in, we've inspected more than 400 chile products and issued 88 stop-sales," notes NMDA's Katie Goetz. "All 88 were righted when the company in question either removed the offending claim from the label or registered with us by producing the paperwork to back their label claim." To further support the signature crop, in 2014 the growers, processers, and restaurateurs of NMCA launched the New Mexico Certified Chile program, which issues products a certification mark verifying authenticity. In her book, New Mexico Chiles, author Kelly Urig points out that locals can do their part by buying direct from area farmers thus cutting their overhead costs for transportation, processing, and packaging: "New Mexicans and fans of our chile can help by putting their money where it matters—by purchasing directly from New Mexican farmers at local farmers' markets or at roadside stands. These types of transactions put money directly back to the source and acknowledge their services."

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