Support New Mexico Chile Growers- A Letter from Pamela Schaefer

It’s that time of year. The nights are getting cooler, and on sunny weekend days, the smell of green chile being roasted fills the air and sets our senses tingling.   But do you know where the chile you are buying or ordering in your favorite restaurant was grown? Just because you find chile in New Mexico, doesn’t mean it is from New Mexico.

New Mexico chile is known for its incredible flavor and fiery heat. Chile is so intrinsic to everything New Mexican that our state question is “Red or Green?” We put it on everything from eggs to cheeseburgers to turkey sandwiches and pizza. Chile production contributes significantly to our state’s economy and tourism industry and is celebrated at festivals throughout the state.

Chile harvested in New Mexico has been in continual decline, with foreign companies taking advantage of reduced regulation and cheap, plentiful labor. If this trend continues, our chile crop could virtually disappear in a few years. You have probably heard the stories about chile being sold as “Hatch” or “New Mexico Grown”, when it comes from outside New Mexico, or even outside the United States. You would probably be surprised at the popular New Mexican restaurants that use chile grown outside of New Mexico.

In response to consumer demand for real, authentic, home grown New Mexican chile, The New Mexico Chile Association developed The New Mexico Certified Chile Program (NMCC). The NMCC works to verify and certify the chile you buy and consume is actually grown in New Mexico, and it is free for small farmers, farmers markets, restaurants, grocers and distributors.

How can you be certain that you are getting genuine New Mexico chile? Ask! Next time you eat out or purchase chile to cook at home, ask where the chile comes from. Look for the NMCC logo at your favorite restaurant and read grocery store labels carefully. If you are proud of the tradition that chile represents and want the guarantee of the unique flavor, high quality and reputation of New Mexico chile, make sure it is certified, home grown in New Mexico. Ask your grocer to stock New Mexico chile and New Mexico chile products. When you dine out, ask for New Mexico chile.

You have many choices with places to eat and buy chile. If you support the chile growers and producers that are keeping the tradition of New Mexico grown chile alive, then frequent the restaurants and buy from those that are certified by the NMCC. Help ensure that we will continue to grow and enjoy the best chile in the world for generations to come.

Pamela Schaefer, Director
New Mexico Certified Chile Program

Still Hungry? June 2015: Farmers’ Favorites

Local Flavor has been tuned into and talking to the New Mexico farming community for 20 years and in that time a lot of very special people have appeared on our pages. Just stop by the Farmer’s Market in Santa Fe on a Saturday and you’ll see how integral these people are to our community and how much locals enjoy knowing the people who raise their food, from vegetables to meat to honey. This month we revisited several of our past favorites to see what they were up to and asked for some of their favorite recipes. Continue reading

Harvest the Sun

Solar-TesuqueCoal is the single greatest cause of climate change. When we boot up our computers or flick the light switch, most of us are getting our electricity from the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s (PNM) coal plant. Most people know New Energy Economy for our work to close coal. We also create opportunities for energy alternatives, with real world solutions.

New Energy Economy uses model solar electric system installations as a means to: 1) demonstrate the financial, environmental and health benefits of solar to hundreds of people; 2) repurpose money previously allocated to utility bill payment for vital programs that service the community; and 3) build durability for our community institutions through a highly visible and notable community project with well-established local partners. We call this energy democracy. New Energy Economy develops community-scale solar energy installations on fire stations, community centers and tribal facilities to expose the vision of what’s possible and educate the public about the economic, health and environmental benefits of renewable energy. To date, we have installed six solar systems throughout New Mexico, including: Crownpoint Chapter House on Navajo Nation, the Taytsugeh Oweengeh Intergenerational Center at the Pueblo of Tesuque, the City of Santa Fe’s largest fire station, Santa Fe County’s fire stations in Tesuque and in Chimayo, and the Zona Del Sol Youth and Family community center. Our latest solarization partnership was again with the Pueblo of Tesuque—this time solarizing two green hoop houses. Continue reading

From Photosynthesis to Photovoltaics

life-of-solarIt’s rare to pick up a newspaper and not find at least one headline about solar and wind power, electric cars and battery development. Renewable power is here, and here to stay.

Not that it’s ever gone away. As a farmer, I’ve lived off of photosynthesis for the past 40 years, and of course sun-powered storms have brought the rain and snow that allow plants to tap into the nutrients in the soil. And fossil fuels, though not renewable, being compressed organic matter from eons past, began as plants and creatures ultimately powered by the sun. Sailing ships have been with us for millennia, windmills for hundreds of years. What’s historically new are silicon-based photovoltaic cells that can convert sunlight into electricity, though harvesting sunlight for electricity seems a natural extension of using it to grow crops.

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The Radical Center

“Many ranchers by their nature are resilient, they’ve stuck around through a lot of change over the last couple hundred years here. So droughts, all kinds of conflict,including changes in land management, fires—it’s resilience, hanging in there.”

Courtney White

Courtney White

In the mid-1990s, Courtney White, a Sierra Club activist, had had his fill of what he calls the “conflict industry.” Grazing wars between ranchers and environmentalists netted little if any progress toward fixing the issues. More often they resulted in deadlock and opposing sides becoming further entrenched in what each believed was right. “I suspected that [we] had more in common than different,” says Courtney in his thoughtful, measured way. “So it was important to step away from this kind of conflict machine that was running full speed at the time, and try to find some peace.”

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Simple Revolution? Farm!

Simple Revolution Farms

Simple Revolution Farms

Remember your mom’s advice when you’d come home complaining about the neighborhood bully? “Just keep walking,” she’d say. “Don’t engage.” But that sounded crazy. It felt like, if you wanted to save your skin, your only choice was to cringe with shame as he helped himself to your lunch money every day. But transformative change is like aikido—you let the opposition take itself down with its own momentum, suddenly creating a possibility for transformative change. And that’s the concept behind Patricia Allaire and Scott Newman’s Simple Revolution? Farm! in Albuquerque.

You might have to say that out loud a few times. It’s sort of a shorthand version of: “Feeling crushed by a nature-phobic world of befouled wilderness, disappearing pollinators and astronomical food prices? Looking for a way to fight it? Stop overthinking! There’s a simpler path to revolution—start farming!” Located in a residential neighborhood of Albuquerque’s South Valley, Patricia and Scott’s farm fits into their conventionally-sized backyard, yet they grow enough to feed themselves as well as to sell at weekly local farmers markets, following the principles of biointensive farming and biodiversity, along with companion and succession planting. Contrary to real estate’s famous emphasis (Location, Location, Location), the emphasis here is on Soil. When they first laid eyes on this property 21 years ago, in their search for a place to farm, what Patricia and Scott beheld was a wasteland: hardpacked dirt, pounded, scraped and sun-scorched, with glinting glass shards half-buried beneath the surface. Not a tree, not a cactus. “It was the biggest property we could afford,” says Patricia, “and we fell in love with it.” The backyard today is full of big and small generously spreading trees, their branches extending wind protection and shade to the multitudes of thriving green plants, their beds stretching to the back boundary where chickens, ducks and hogs live. Continue reading