Chile Pepper Institute reflects the future

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By Harold Morgan

The slash of bright red peeking above a brick wall certainly will catch the eye of some drivers in west Las Cruces. It is red and it is bright.
A closer look brings something a bit magnificent. The something, a sign claims, is the world’s largest chile. At 45 feet long, it may be. Red indeed, it is.
It’s that time in New Mexico, the time of picking and processing of the vegetable that is central to our unique cuisine and perhaps to New Mexico’s very soul.
The bad news about New Mexico chile — a steady decline in acres planted — isn’t new. In 1990, nearly 30,000 acres were planted. The 2010 figure was 8,700 acres, 30 percent of the area planted 20 years ago. The 2010 crop was worth $41.6 million, not trivial in our small business state.
Some good stuff is happening in addition to the appearance of the Big Chile. Optimism showed in May when Border Foods, of Deming sold to Mizkan Americas, a subsidiary of a Japanese food manufacturer, reported the New Mexico Business Weekly.
On its website (www.borderfoodsinc.com), Border claims the title of world’s largest green chile processor and largest U.S. jalapeno processor, in addition to making Mexican foods.

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