Roasted chiles put local bag ban in hot spot

So, how will the environmentally conscious people who only carry cloth or nylon grocery bags transport their roasted green chiles from the store to home? And how will they store them? In plastic freezer bags? ’Tis the season! – Green Chile Peeler in Bayfield

The obvious answer is that the bag-banning crowd will eschew the traditional big black Hefty plastic bags for chiles and bring their own tubs.

But the tubs have to be metal and not plastic, because plastic is evil.

Of course, metal tubs are heavy and won’t generally fit into a hybrid vehicle’s small trunk.

In order to transport plastic-less, free-range, holistic, organic, locally grown green chiles in metal tubs, one must drive an SUV or pickup truck, which is designed to haul such payloads.

But that’s not a problem. Driving a gas-guzzling SUV to fetch Hatch chiles will save at least one, maybe two, large plastic bags from becoming a shameful single-use waste.

And how does one preserve roasted chiles without using plastic bags? Freezing chiles in reusable glass jars! That will further reduce one’s plastic footprint.

However, because glass jars don’t collapse like plastic bags, the chile chiller will quickly run out of freezer space.

Naturally, there is a solution for this: Buy another freezer.

By purchasing another appliance powered by coal-fired electricity, one can save the Earth by keeping plastic out of landfills – all the while following a strict macrobiotic diet that incorporates chiles.

Except that green chiles are not native to the Southwest.

Columbus was the guy who took chile seeds from the Caribbean to Spain. A conquistador then brought them back to the New World in the 1600s.

Only in the early 20th century was the right strain of chile developed at New Mexico State University, and the area around Hatch proved ideal growing conditions for large commercial production.

The rest is history. Or, shall we say, the state myth of the Land of Enchantment.

All of which has nothing to do with banning/taxing plastic bags for green chile in Durango, but it’s an interesting conundrum.

So Action Line re-read the bag ordinance. There’s an exception for chile roasters.

In other words, the ballyhooed bag ban/tax has a hole it in.

In Article III, certain terms are defined, including “grocer.” The bag ban/tax only applies to “grocers.”

However, grocer is specifically not “temporary vending establishments for fruits, vegetables, packaged meats or dairy,” or “vendors at farmer’s markets or other temporary events.”

Green chile stands are seasonal; therefore, the bag law doesn’t apply.

What’s even more interesting, however, is that clause about the farmer’s market.

It seems the farmer’s market is where you’d expect to find like-minded, environmentally aware, progressive consumers who think globally and act locally.

Why then is the farmer’s market specifically exempt from the bag ban/tax?

Not that Action Line wants to cause a ruckus. And, granted, the bag ban/tax applies only to established grocers with 25,000 square feet or more of retail food space.

But why not require reusable bags at the farmer’s market? Or is city-mandated behavior modification too onerous of a burden to impose on agrarian entrepreneurs?

And why not include a bag ban/tax at Home Depot, where light brown plastic bags are distributed more freely than Chinese-made American flags at a Republican Party convention?

While we are on a rant, have you seen Durango’s “Garbage Collection Guidelines” online?

They state: “... be sure to bag and secure your trash before placing it in the container.”

So, here you have the city advising you to put your garbage in plastic bags.

At the same time, the city is working on banning plastic bags, ostensibly to keep them out of the trash.

Akin to those aforementioned chiles, the city serves up its ordinances as “Christmas,” both red and green.

By going green, one can see red.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you knew that one fresh medium-sized green chile pod has as much vitamin C as six oranges.

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