Save the Booze

Photo by Kirt Edblom

Blue Agave

  • since humans seem to so love tequila
  • blue agave has been cultivated at an industrial scale since the 1980s
  • to its detriment
  • Agave tequilana (yes that is its scientific name) has been cultivated in monoculture for a very long time
  • it grows naturally in Mexico
  • but it is now a rigorous economic export of Jalisco
  • a western state of Mexico who’s capital city is Guadalajara
  • the core of the plant produces exorbitant amounts of sugars like fructose
  • making it perfect for distilling into a potent alcohol
Photo by Oscar Leos
  • the problem is the monoculture production
  • blue agave is pollinated by bats
  • but because of deforestation, tourism, and generalized habitat degradation
  • there aren’t too many bats around to pollinate the agave any more
  • lucky for the tequila manufacturers
  • agave can also be propagated asexually through shoots
  • but doing this means that 95% of agave plants are exact clones of each other
  • so if any sort of pathogen comes their way
  • all the agave plants could be wiped out
  • and the tequila industry would disappear
  • Fusarium fungi, Erwinia bacteria have been plaguing agave crops since the 90s
  • they’re the ones responsible for the rotting and failure of agave crops

But are we not responsible too? Can’t blame fungi for everything…

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