“Red or green?” is New Mexico’s official state question. Buried in a list that includes the state bird, state cookie, and state tree, the question refers to your chile pepper preference.
New Mexico exports chile peppers, its McDonald’s sells chili pepper cheeseburgers, and it’s home to the world’s chile capital.
A New Mexico license plate:
But now, the growers have some problems. They need to change their chiles.
Picking Green Chile Peppers
New Mexico’s chile pepper farmers are cutting back on acreage because of a shrinking labor supply. Instead of 30 laborers, one farmer is down to eight. Although the decrease started in 2002, the Great Recession was a turning point when large numbers of farm laborers who might have come here decided a call center near home might be just as good. Even with chile pepper workers making double the New Mexico minimum wage, still, they are opting to work elsewhere.
As you might expect, more machines could be the solution, But it’s tough to pick green chile peppers. A pepper that is perfect to pick would have a straight stem, a small canopy, and a good taste–precisely what researchers are trying to breed. They are also working on improving their pepper picking machine. So far, gentle machines left too much on the vine and the rougher ones shredded the peppers.
For all you could ever want to know about picking green chile peppers, do take a look at the first three minutes of this video:
Our Bottom Line: The Factors of Production
My sources and more: 99% Invisible has the perfect introduction to New Mexico’s chile pepper problems. After that, I did peek at the New Mexico statute with the state question and suggest you take a look at the whole list. From there the USDA had the (slightly outdated) overview.
Please note that I researched whether it was chile or chili and concluded that chile is most accurate. Our featured image is from Pixabay.