The New Mexico Chile Advertising Act: If it Says it’s New Mexican Chile it Better be!


On Sunday, July 1st, 2012, the New Mexico Chile Advertising Act goes into effect. The New Mexico Chile Advertising Act states that it is unlawful for a business to knowingly sell or label products as New Mexico chile if the chile was not grown in New Mexico. If the New Mexico department of Agriculture discovers that a business is selling non-New Mexican chile, as New Mexican, the product(s) can be removed from sale by order of district court.

So Why is This Law Important for New Mexicans?

More chiles are grown in New Mexico than any other state. As the New Mexico Chile Association website puts it

What oranges are to Florida and potatoes are to Idaho, Chile is to New Mexico.”

Chile is one of New Mexico’s top selling crops and a huge tourist attraction. Both are important to New Mexico’s economy. The survival of entire towns (like Hatch, NM) depend on the profit of chile. The New Mexico Chile Advertising Act is a step toward insuring that growers from other states and even other countries are not undercutting sales of true New Mexican chile by labeling foreign product as New Mexican.

Countries like China are now growing chile with poor regulations and cheap labor. This makes chile cheaper and the buying price for businesses lower. Which sounds like a great deal on paper… but what about the reason you are actually buying the chile in the first place?  What about the flavor?

Ask any connoisseur of New Mexican Cuisine if “New Mexican” food in Arizona, California, or Texas tastes the same as New Mexican food from New Mexico, made with New Mexican chile.  The answer will be…  Absolutely not.

This law protects the flavor of New Mexico that is uniquely New Mexican… just like a bourbon whiskey must come from Bourbon county  Kentucky. And true Champagne is only from the Champagne region of France. This law is long over due, and New Mexicans can be proud that New Mexico’s unique flavor is finally protected under law from cheap imitations.