If Agave Spirits offers new hope for desert agriculture in the Southwest and Mexico, it is by imagining how important a variety of agave products–not just tequila and mezcal—will be in the future, IF they grow in ways that use less water and pull down more carbon than conventional crop systems.
That means integrating agaves into desert agroforestry systems where soil is built and retained rather than washed away. It means that agaves are not just roasted for distilled spirits, but also for probiotic fermented beverages, syrups, molasses, and salad dressings, and for edibles akin to jicama and pineapple. Many of these products will be hypoglycemic “slow release” odds and beverages that help control diabetes, cholesterol build up, heart disease and cancer–four of the diseases of oxidative stress that are killing off Indigenous and other peoples in the Americas at unprecedented rates.
Use agave’s desert adaptations to their greatest advantage in heterogeneous farming systems and diets, instead of growing them like sugar cane and blowing them to smithereens to get high fructose syrup as toxic as that from corn and most so-called agave nectars; and treat the skilled professionals like the knowledgeable artisans that they are, rather than as cheap labor.
Make the world a better place by putting agaves in their appropriate place in culture, agriculture, and food systems on Planet Desert.
–Gary Paul Nabhan