ANATOMY OF MEZCAL

Archaeological evidence suggests that they have been used as a source of food and artifacts for eleven thousand years since the beginning of settlement in America.

The agaves and the men united their history many years ago, when different species were domesticated and cultivated by Native Americans, to take advantage of the medicinal, nutritional and utilitarian properties of these plants.

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Since that time, the genetic characteristics of cultivated agaves have been strongly influenced by human selection. Members of the genus Agave have been domesticated by peoples such as the Aztecs, Huastecs, Mayans, Mixtecs, Nahua, Tarascans, Zapotec and others. Pharmacological use appears to be the most diverse, followed by its use in construction, as a utensil, and for textiles. The cultivation of agave species outside Mesoamerica has occurred in Europe for ornamental reasons, and in Africa, Asia and Australia to be exploited as a source of fiber, medicines and more recently biofuel.

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The agaves were also one source of food in pre-Hispanic times. Generally the agave sugars were consumed as mead, sweet sap rich in fructose, or as pulque, fermented product similar to beer. In the last decade an incipient industry has emerged that uses agaves to produce sweet syrups - agave honey - and inulin, a dietary fiber that serves to improve digestion and other aspects of health.

Mexico the rural population still considers the agave an important plant for their well-being, serving as a source of fiber, fuel, construction material, food and medicine. There is still much to be documented about the use of agaves in traditional medicine.

  • Adam Floyd