With chile season in full swing in New Mexico, the state department of agriculture is cracking down on growers falsely claiming their "impostor" chile is from the state.
"The chile's been really good. The problem is I don't think we're going to have enough for everybody, especially (now that) it's getting so famous around the country," said Melva Aguirre, the owner of the Pepper Pot restaurant in Hatch, N.M.
Aguirre serves chiles on just about everything at The Pepper Pot, and she said she loves using fresh, local produce.
"It's hard to compete with the new countries growing more chile than us, but there's no way they can get us. Our chiles are always going to be good. We're better than them," Aguirre said.
Chiles have made Hatch a household name and with that fame comes plenty of people trying to ride the coattails by claiming their chiles are grown in New Mexico when they are not, an action that is now illegal in the state because local farmers and state legislators feel those impostors are basically committing copyright infringement.
"It's been a long time coming. We needed this because there's lots of people that just import chile from Mexico and different parts of the United States, and they bring it in and they're calling it New Mexico chile," said Jimmy Lydle, the owner of Solar Farms.
Lydle's family has been growing and harvesting chile in Hatch for generations. Now his farms supply chile for restaurants all over the country.
"We've got the best chile in the world when it all boils down. I'm not trying to brag about it. It's a fact," Lydle said. Lydle and other farmers in the community agree this new regulation is important to protect their brand.
"(The New Mexico department of agriculture) still got a lot of work to do, but if they keep after it, I think it's going to really be a good deal. They're catching up with a few of (the impostors) which I'm glad to see that," Lydle said.
With green chiles finally being harvested and red chiles ready in just a few weeks, the department of agriculture is on the lookout for impostors to protect the tons of chiles that have made New Mexicans proud.
"It's our chile so we have to protect them and I think it's a wonderful job the governor did," Aguirre said.
The law requires anyone selling fresh chiles or products containing chiles and labeling it as made in New Mexico file paperwork with the NMDA to prove it. If vendors don't, then inspectors will stop all sales of those products until the vendors either prove the origin of the product or change the product's packaging.