From The Fields To Our Meals
Written By: Soraya Smith - Backpacker's Pantry Owner & Recipe Developer
Longevity as a brand pays off…Backpacker’s Pantry and our family of sister brands have enjoyed longtime success in the food world and outdoor industry. One of those perks is getting to know our farmers and ingredient suppliers on a deeper level. Being a family-owned company, its gratifying to be able to shine a spotlight on another family-owned business, that we’ve gotten to know well… Rio Valley Chili Inc, located in Rincon New Mexico, owned and operated by the Carson family.
Recently, we were invited to tour the Rio Valley chili farm, and follow the process that the chilis take from harvest to finished product. Backpacker’s Pantry’s supply chain manager, Elizabeth and I spent a day with the family and met the team that makes our red chili powder.
In beautiful, rural Rincon, New Mexico we met up on the vast chili fields and got to see the hard work of the field pickers, who were working towards the final harvest of the 2022 growing season. The Carsons are rich in love for family, the land, the crops that they grow, and in getting to know us, as a longtime buyer of their chili powders.
In a previous tour of this farm, we saw the great Sandhill Cranes, overwintering in the Rio Valley fertile fields. That’s especially fun, as I get to enjoy the migration of these cranes from their summer home to their winter home in southern New Mexico and back when they use the airways over my Boulder home.
From the fields, we went to the immaculate processing facility to watch the rest of process for the just harvested chilis. From the sorters, who ensure that only quality chili moves through, to the washing of the chilis, to loads and loads of chilis placed on immense and numerous drying racks for dehydrating, to feeling the heat applied to dry the chilis, to the dry chili drop onto the conveyor belt which takes the pungent dried chilis to the finish phase, which grinds the chili into the powders that make it into our delicious meals.
What impacted me the most, was twofold… appreciation for the steps that the Carson's take to ensure that only top quality product leaves their Rio Valley facility and their transparency with the people (who represent the brands) that use their products. We were treated to a delicious lunch brought in from Hatch, New Mexico (just down the road), spent time with the family asking questions and getting to know them personally and left knowing that we have an open door to our chili farmers. How amazing is that?
As an owner and recipe developer for our family food company, it is critical that I have confidence in our ingredients. Our commitment to sourcing quality ingredients, extends to really knowing who we do business with, where our ingredients come from, the process that each ingredient goes through to get to us, and ultimately, you.