Cooperatives Are Helping Preserve Traditional Mezcal Production

Within the rising mezcal market, producers of the spirit are struggling to meet the booming demand while maintaining traditional methods that prioritize sustainability, small batches, rotational agave-growing and selective harvesting. With the increase of industrialized methods, many makers have sacrificed sustainability to keep up, leading to deforested hillsides and disappearing rare agave species. In an effort to help mezcaleros (producers of mezcal) stay in business, preserve the traditional techniques and protect the land, many are forming member-led cooperatives. Erika Meneses—the director of the Guerrero-based brand and cooperative, Aguerrido—teamed up with local makers to sell their spirits together. Members of the co-op adhere to an established farming and harvesting regulation that prioritizes ancestral methods, making them more financially resilient and increasing product diversity as each bottle uniquely captures the area’s ecosystem. Many more producers have united, as Meneses describes, to “protect our mezcal precisely from people who only seek a particular benefit for themselves.” Learn more at Civil Eats.

Image courtesy of Aguerrido