In the world of spirits, mezcal and tequila hold a special place, not just for their unique flavors but also for the rich cultural heritage of Mexico they represent. However, as their popularity grows outside their native country, so do the challenges related to sustainability. This article shines a light on the commendable work of nonprofits like the Tequila Interchange Project, Proyecto LAM, and S.A.C.R.E.D., who are championing sustainable practices within the mezcal and tequila industries. Let's delve in and explore their impact.
The Tequila Interchange Project
The Tequila Interchange Project (TIP) is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving the cultural heritage and biodiversity of the agave spirits industry. Comprising a diverse group of professionals, TIP focuses on education, advocacy, and research. They educate various stakeholders about the importance of traditional and sustainable practices in producing agave spirits.
TIP also advocates for the rights of small-scale producers and the preservation of biodiversity in agave landscapes. Their advocacy has led to changes in Mexican legislation to protect traditional mezcal producers and the development of a certification program for agave spirits.
Additionally, TIP supports research on topics like the impact of climate change on agave production, and the social and economic implications of the agave spirits industry on rural communities. Their work is instrumental in promoting sustainability and ethical practices in the agave spirits industry.
Under the aegis of TIP, the Bat Friendly Tequila and Mezcal Project is a unique certification initiative that aims to promote sustainable practices in the tequila and mezcal industry. Recognizing the crucial role bats play in pollinating agave plants; the project encourages producers to allow at least 5% of their agave plants to flower, providing essential food for nocturnal pollinators. This practice also enhances the genetic diversity of agave plants, making them more resilient to disease and improving their reproductive success.
The project also addresses the issue of industrial practices in tequila production, which have led to biodiversity loss in blue agave plants. It promotes traditional farming that helps preserve genetic variation and sustainability. In so doing, the Bat Friendly Tequila and Mezcal Project is helping to ensure the long-term viability of the tequila and mezcal industry. The Bat Friendly label appears on those tequilas, mezcals, and other agave-distilled beverages that meet the program's criteria, providing consumers with a helpful visual cue while they're choosing their next bottle.
Proyecto Lorenzo Ángeles Mendoza (Proyecto LAM) is a sustainability initiative by Real Minero, a family-run distillery renowned for its dedication to the sustainability of the agave plant used in mezcal. Named in honor of the late Don Lorenzo Angeles Mendoza, the project embodies his teachings about caring for and respecting the agave. The project's comprehensive approach includes environmental care, waste recycling, composting, and ecological management of their crops.
One of their key focuses is on studying the seeds, growth, and behavior of the agave's many pollinators, intending to share their findings with other mezcaleros. They encourage the building of agave nurseries and the natural germination of agave seeds without chemical processes or technologies. Proyecto LAM's work has revealed that some agaves are so over-cultivated that they produce a low percentage of healthy seeds, highlighting the importance of their sustainability efforts.
S.A.C.R.E.D.'s sustainability efforts are multifaceted. They support various projects, including the replanting of agave, which helps maintain biodiversity and prevent soil erosion. They also work on water security projects, assisting communities in developing reservoirs to capture rainwater, enrich soil, and refill aquifers. This combats water insecurity while promoting sustainable use of natural resources in these areas.
In addition to their direct sustainability work, S.A.C.R.E.D. also hosts tasting events for their supporters. These events provide an educational experience with heritage agave spirits, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the agave industry's cultural and environmental aspects.
Nonprofits Like TIP, Proyecto LAM, and S.A.C.R.E.D. Are Making a Difference
At the end of the day, nonprofits like the Tequila Interchange Project, Proyecto LAM, and S.A.C.R.E.D. play a critical role in promoting sustainable practices in the tequila and mezcal industry. Their work is vital in preserving the biodiversity and longevity of the agave plant, the heart of these beloved spirits. As consumers, we can contribute to this cause by supporting these organizations and choosing brands that prioritize responsible and sustainable practices.
Sound the Call: Advocate for sustainable practices by spreading awareness on social media and other platforms. It will help educate others about the importance of sustainable practices in the mezcal and tequila industry.
Vote with Your Wallet: Donate to these nonprofits to help them continue their work in promoting sustainability.
Look for Endorsements: Support brands certified or approved by these nonprofits, such as those with the Bat Friendly label. They help you consider a brand's sustainability practices when buying mezcal or tequila.