Red Peppers of New Mexico

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Bright red peppers are healthy and hot.

To the tourist visiting the Southwest for the first time,
strings of red peppers drying in the sun are a colorful
sight. To the fruit and vegetable ranchers whose riverside
farms stretch along the valley cut by the Rio Grande
between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico, the sight is such a
familiar one that they seldom give it a second thought. For
in this part of the country (and southward), the peppers
are planted, grown, and harvested in abundance as a staple
food.

In the accompanying photo, Connie Garcia sits amidst the
peppers and pumpkins grown by her parents on their ranch
near Velarde, New Mexico. Each string of peppers will fetch
about ten dollars on the open market … sometimes more,
sometimes less.

While they may taste unbearably “hot” to easterners, the
fruit of the pepper plant seldom brings tears to the eyes
of native New Mexicans, who–young or old, Indian or
Anglo-Saxon–eat these spicy relatives of the bell
pepper as a vegetable, health food, and condiment.

Tourists and native New Mexicans alike agree that the
brightly colored peppers–which festoon buildings and
Indian pueblos every year at this time–add a welcome
touch of color to life in this desert area.

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