- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

DENVER (AP) - Colorado’s Pueblo chiles are taking on the venerable Hatch chiles of New Mexico.

Whole Foods Market announced this week that the store is dropping the Hatch brand in favor of Pueblo green chiles.

The grocery chain is planning to distribute 125,000 pounds to stores throughout most of the Rocky Mountain region, including Colorado, Kansas, Idaho and Utah.

“Our stores in Utah and Idaho are a bit closer to Pueblo than New Mexico,” said Steve Lunzer, regional produce coordinator at Whole Foods Market, “and we wanted to be mindful of trying to support Pueblo farmers as much as we can.”

High elevations of southeastern Colorado - along with hot summers and cold nights - create a chile that is thicker and meatier than others, which makes them ideal for roasting, The Denver Post reported (http://dpo.st/1KmtcW5 ).

Pueblo chiles range in heat from medium to hot, compared with the typical Hatch chile, which ranges from mild to medium.

Chiles have been a staple of New Mexico cuisine for centuries, and the famed Hatch Valley is an area known internationally for its green chiles. Chile is also the state vegetable and the basis of the official state question, “Red or green?”

But in recent years, the Hatch spicy staple has seen a decline because of drought, increased competition and a lack of chile pickers.

Whole Foods is making the switch at a time when Colorado’s green chile farmers are organizing around a strategy to better promote Pueblo chiles, including a logo and a road map for tourists who want to visit Pueblo County chile farms where they can buy the peppers where they’re picked.

The brand and logo will be unveiled at the Colorado State Fair, which runs Aug. 28 to Sept. 7.

Chris Markuson, director of economic development for Pueblo County, predicts a healthy economic benefit from the new strategy.

“We’re estimating the annual increased economic impact (of the Pueblo green chile market) will be $1.1 million in 2015, and that growth rate will increase by 9.4 percent every year,” Markuson told the Post.

___

Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide