While the legacy of famous New Mexico chile peppers is known all across the Southwest, Governor Susana Martinez says that's not enough.

Martinez says the state's most revered chili pepper variety belongs in the ranks of other nationally recognized and certified food products like Vidalia Onions and Idaho Potatoes, the Governor kicked off the "New Mexico Certified Chile" trademark program during a special launch party Aug. 19 at the Range Restaurant in Bernalillo.

“Red or green is a question New Mexicans answer every day at breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Governor Martinez. “Chile is a way of life in our state, ingrained in our culture and our economy. It supports more than 4,000 jobs and contributes more than $400 million every year to New Mexico’s economy. The one question no one should ever has to ask is, ‘Is this chile really New Mexican?’ This program further cements the status of New Mexico Chile on par with other nationally-renowned state and regional products.”

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The Range is the first New Mexico restaurant to participate in the program. Martinez said with the creation of the new program, “New Mexico Certified Chile” will join other well-known branded products that support signature crops of a state or region.

"It's a good day because we are recognizing just how great New Mexico chile is and this new program hopefully will take that legacy crop to a new level," Jeanine Chavez Eden, Certification Program Coordinator for the New Mexico Chile Association said following the event.

She said the objective now is to enlist growers, processing facilities, supermarkets and restaurants to join the program and keep New Mexico's chile pepper industry strong.