(This article was
on our blog in March 2010.
We're reposting it here
on our new blog
for your blissful
This is part two of a travel journal from our General Manager, Doug Furlong; he visited the source of our agave nectar in Jalisco, Mexico. Part 1 talked about his experiences visiting the 3 plants that produce our organic agave; he personally inspected our agave producer's fields and facilities. The post below talks more about this unique plant's history, and its use as a traditional food source in Mexico. For other details regarding the processing, etc.,feel free to read Doug Visits our Agave Farm (Part 1) .
I was really impressed as I toured our agave production facilities, and I gave a broad overview in part 1 of my travel journal. These 3 plants are dedicated organic agave producers. The agave farmers there also create co-ops to better manage the flow of materials and enable them to own their own processing plants. They produce nothing else but organic agave syrup--all without additives, chemicals or preservatives.
I was also impressed with our agave producer's strict oversight:
a) internal quality control is state of the art. The QC labs are well equipped and staffed.
b) sustainability audits also occur
Again, to sum up my experience of visiting our production facilities and agave fields, I was really impressed.
Along with my tour of the plants, I got a crash course on the history of agave.
The agave plant is hardy, needs very little water, and grows well in the arid areas of Jalisco, Mexico. As our agave syrup is organic, no pesticides or fertilizers are used. Also, the fronds are left to compost in the fields after the pinas have been released from the plant.
'Jimadores' artfully take heavy agave plants surrounded with sharp spines, deftly chop off the leaves, and separate the stalk and root from the 'pina'. The role they play is incredibly valuable, and are contracted between different agave farms for their very unique skills.
A Jimadore sharpening his Coa with a file
Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia that goes into more detail:
"Harvesting the agave plant remains a manual effort, unchanged by modern farming technologies, and stretching back hundreds of years. The agave is planted, tended, and harvested by hand. The men who harvest it, the "jimadores", possess generations of knowledge about the plants and the ways in which they need to be harvested. The jimadores must be able to work swiftly in the tight rows, pull out the hijuelos (Agave offspring) without damaging the mother plant, clear the piñas (Spanish for pineapples), and decide when each plant is ready to be harvested . Too soon and there are not enough sugars, too late and the plant will have used its sugars to grow aquiote (20–40 foot high stem), with seeds on the top that are then scattered by the wind. The piñas, weighing 40 to 70 pounds, are cut away with a special knife called a coa. "
The first distillation of agave into a liquor dates back to that of the Aztecs, while the liquor "tequila" has been produced in Mexico from agave pinas for over 400 years. I must say that I sampled some when I was down there...the agave and the tequila. :)
I encourage anyone who creates products
with agave to visit the manufacturer of their agave syrup.
It's fascinating, and gives you a new appreciation for a sweet ingredient. Maybe this will have to become a regular annual job responsibility. Maybe. ;)
~Doug Furlong, General Manager of Operations