Preserving Local Culture

I’m originally from New Mexico. If you should know one thing about New Mexicans, it’s that we take great pride in our chile products. In fact, the state question is “Red or Green?” referring to whether people prefer red or green chile on their food.

Chile season is an important time for locals. The smell of roasting chile fills the air and makes its way into conversation. It’s an annual tradition for households to get bushels or sacks of chile, have them roasted, and freeze the peppers in smaller quantities to be used later. Dried chile powders, pods, and strung ristras are also gathered and stored to be used throughout the year.

Free Green Chili on Gray Textile Stock Photo
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels:

I’m sure this cultural significance of local food isn’t unique to New Mexico. I’m sure other states, regions, and countries have food that they take great pride in and make sure to preserve for future use. Food, especially local food, has a special place in the hearts of people and communities.

I’m curious: what food holds cultural significance for your community?

Free Red Chili on Brown Wooden Table Stock Photo
Photo by Eva Elijas from Pexels:

When I was young I was taught how to package and freeze chile, and it was known that whoever forgot to do so would be sorry come winter. I’m wondering if there can be a cultural shift to make preserving food a more normal occurrence. What if entire communities took pride in preserving not just their renowned local ingredients but food from farmers markets, home gardens, or even the grocery store shelves? I think that would be a wonderful thing to witness.