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Save the vanilla

Vanilla is native to Mexico and Central America. The vanilla flower was a highly appreciated flower in Mesoamerica before the arrival of Europeans, who brought this delicacy to the rest of the world.

Vanilla is an orchid endemic to Mexico, especially from the tropical jungles of the southeast of the country and has been cultivated since pre-Hispanic times by the Totonac culture, where it became a symbol of their gods. The vanilla orchid was named by the local indigenous Totonacs as Xahanat which means black flower. Its popularity among the pre-hispanic population was due to its close relationship with cocoa, since xocolatl, the drink of nobles, priests and warriors, was prepared with both ingredients.

During the Conquest, vanilla became so popular in the world that they tried to take it to other countries, but this flower could only be cultivated in Mexico because of the natural pollinators responsible for its pollination only live in Mexico and Central America. This was the reason Mexico and Central America were the only producers of vanilla in the world. Which ended when the French discovered hand pollination.

Just Pure Vanilla seeks to promote, improve and protect its cultivation in its natural and original environment. We recognise that in order to support the conservation of Vanilla for future generations we have to acknowledge its historical, cultural and environmental importance and the relevance of traditional sustainable practices of the vanilla in Mexico and Central America. 

Mexican rainforest showin pool and vanilla pods growing

Our Story

Just Pure Vanilla Ltd supports the producers that help to preserve the traditional way of sustainable production of vanilla respecting the biodiversity of wild species/relatives in their natural environment.

Maintaining Biodiversity 

The case of vanilla is an example of how a business can be achieved without compromising the conservation of the biodiversity of ecosystems in a sustainable way.

Vanilla, an expensive but popular spice used in many industries, faces problems related to its supply. Some of these problems are due to the fact that the vanilla cultivation, dominated by just a few countries located outside the native growing areas of aromatic vanilla species, is based on clonal material of a single species, Vanilla planifolia. 

This downward spiral is exacerbated by the lack of genetic diversity of the vanilla orchids in plantations. The concentration of vanilla production in just a few countries also leads to a lack of production system’s resilience against extreme weather events, pests and diseases, political instability, theft, monopoly, and processing errors (Havkin-Frenkel and Belanger 2010). 

Despite the economic importance of this crop, relatively little attention has been paid to its wild relatives’ conservation and cultivation, in particular with respect to their biology, ecology, and potential use. 

The lack of natural pollinators forces commercial vanilla producers to rely on hand pollination, a very labour-intensive and delicate activity (Villanueva-Viramontes 2017). 

The high efficiency of commercial vanilla production has potentially led to over-pollination, which stresses the plants and makes them less tolerant to changes in the environment such as droughts, temperature changes, and diseases caused by Fusarium, Phytophthora, and Glomerella and by the cymbidium mosaic virus (Havkin-Frenkel and Belanger 2010, Cameron 2011, Ramos-Castella et al. 2016, Villanueva-Viramontes 2017). 

Just Pure Vanilla believes that commercialisation of vanilla can be done by supporting producers that take care of the conservation of the biodiversity of wild species where the vanilla originated. This will support the preservation of the vanilla for the future.

Supporting Harvesters 

Just Pure Vanilla ensures the full traceability of vanilla back to the producers. The vanilla beans are ethically and sustainably produced. We support the local farmers that have been preserving the biodiverse environment to help the conservation of pollinators of the vanilla in its natural habitat in the secondary forest in Mexico.  

Indigenous people
Biodiversity and conservation of Vanilla involves the indigenous men and women that inhabit the rainforests in Mexico; without causing destruction by maintaining their practices of sustainable management of the natural habitat of original spices, such as vanilla growth. Mexico is an ecological diverse country, with over 30 different ecosystems.
Sustainable management practices come from ancestral knowledge, that has been transmitted from generation to generation. They involve ways of cultivating and managing natural resources with a minimum of negative impact on nature.

The indigenous worldview sees the jungle and the rest of the tropical resources are sacred spaces. The appropriation of nature must be carried out by minimizing the damage to the environment. This includes the producers to respect and use the same paths to avoid any further damage to the plantation or wildlife.

The Just Pure Vanilla “bee” logo represents the environment and the natural pollinators of the vanilla.

The orchid bee (Euglossini)

The orchid bee (Euglossini) are found in forests in Mexico to Southeastern Brazil. They are recognised by there bright blue/green colours,the male bee depends on orchid flowers to mate with the female bees.

He collects scent oils from the orchid flowers, including Vanilla orchids for weeks and uses a mixture of fragrance as cologne to attract a female bee. The scents come from the orchid flowers. The more scents the male bee collects shows his genetic strength to the female bees ( Eltz, 1999).

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