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Mexican Vanilla

The Totonac princess

The state of Veracruz, located along the eastern Gulf Coast of Mexico, has a very diverse and rapidly changing landscape. From tropical coastal plains and temperate valleys to the highlands of the Eastern Sierra Madre Mountains. Abundant rainfall and extremely fertile soil in the coastal regions of Veracruz permit the cultivation of a wide range of crops. The mountains are said to contain relatively unexploited deposits of gold. But what Veracruz is most famous for is Vanilla.

The Totonac people, who inhabit Veracruz, were the first to cultivate Vanilla. According to Totonac mythology, a local Princess called Xanat was forbidden by her father from marrying a commoner. The lovers fled to the forest only to be captured and beheaded. Where their blood touched the ground, the vine of this tropical orchid grew.

Vanilla today is one of the most expensive and sought after spices in the world, but in Mexico, where it was first discovered, there is hardly any Vanilla remaining. A challenging project, we work closely with Alfagama who have been working with local farmers in Mexico for decades to revive this prized product and help establish the identity of Mexican Vanilla.