Vanilla is the world’s favourite flavour, but in the West it has become synonymous with plainness. That’s because 97% of the food industry uses vanilla essence, a cheap artificial substitute that’s chemically synthesised and contains just 1 flavour compound. Real vanilla, on the other hand, is far from ordinary. It contains over 250 well-being compounds and is one of the most labour-intensive crops in the world. As a result, the vanilla farmers in Madagascar are de-foresting (the vanilla orchid needs a host tree) to grow palm oil, which is in much higher demand, in order to earn a living.
"We're on the precipice where we could lose real vanilla within a generation if we don't act now" - Patricia Rain, Sustainability Expert dubbed 'The Vanilla Queen' by the vanilla farmers
What can we do:
1. Use real vanilla in our kitchens (it tastes better anyway!)
2. Insist that what we buy (cosmetics, ice-cream, desserts, cakes...) contains pure, natural vanilla
3. Educate others on the difference between artificial vanilla & real vanilla