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Beyond the Blue Agave: Cultivating Equitable Tequila

Tequila’s vibrant spirit is a story etched in the traditions and lives of communities that cultivate this iconic drink. However, the agave fields of Jalisco often overshadow the challenges these communities face. Fair compensation, access to healthcare and other basic services, and environmental sustainability are critical issues that need to be addressed.

Equity Lens: Reframing the Tequila Narrative

An equity lens examines how policies, practices, and outcomes impact different groups of people. Applying this lens to the tequila industry compels us to consider the entire supply chain, from the jimadores and jornaleros who meticulously coax the agave hearts from the earth to the families who call the Tequila Designation of Origin (DOT) home.

Valuing Jimadores & Jornaleros: Beyond Backbreaking Labor

Jimadores and jornaleros are the backbone of the tequila industry. Their expertise in growing and harvesting mature agave plants, a physically demanding task, is crucial for high-quality tequila. However, fair compensation, predictable work, and access to safety equipment are often lacking. Valor Tequila applies an equity lens to its additive-free tequila, ensuring every bottle promotes fair wages, safe working conditions, and job security.

Strengthening Communities: Bridging the Gap

The communities within the DOT grapple with limited access to healthcare, education, and infrastructure. By adopting an equity lens, tequila brands can invest in these communities through initiatives like supporting local clinics, promoting professional development and educational opportunities, and contributing to infrastructure improvements. This fosters a more sustainable and equitable environment for those who dedicate their lives to this spirit. Valor engages local communities, universities, and NGOs in identifying needs and prioritizing initiatives to truly address the specific challenges faced by the communities surrounding its distillery.

Women at the Forefront: Uplifting Female Voices

The role of women in the tequila industry deserves recognition. Having always played a role in the distillation process, women continue to play pivotal roles. However, their contributions are often undervalued. An equity lens calls for initiatives that uplift women through leadership development programs, microfinance opportunities, and ensuring their voices are heard within the industry. To learn more about how women are leading in this industry, check out Valor’s Women in Tequila Series!

Sustainable Practices: Safeguarding the Agave Landscape

The blue agave used to produce tequila thrives in a specific ecosystem. Unsustainable farming practices can threaten this delicate balance. An equity lens encourages environmentally conscious practices like responsible water usage, reforestation projects, and promoting organic farming methods. This ensures the future of the agave landscape and the communities that depend on it. This is why Valor and the Gente Buena Foundation are partnering with the community of San Pedro de los Landeros (the community where Valor tequila is distilled) and the Universities of Guadalajara and Michoacan on reforestation initiatives.

Beyond Profits: A Call for Collective Action

Tequila is more than just a spirit; it’s a cultural icon. By adopting an equity lens, tequila brands can move beyond profit-driven models and embrace a collaborative approach that benefits the entire tequila ecosystem. Partnering with NGOs, local organizations, and community leaders can lead to impactful initiatives that create a more just and sustainable future for tequila.

As consumers, we hold the power to influence change. By seeking out tequila brands that champion an equitable approach, we can celebrate the spirit while supporting the communities that cultivate it. Look for brands transparent about their supply chain practices and their commitment to social responsibility. Investing in equitable tequila isn’t just about social good; it’s about savoring a spirit with a story we can all be proud of. Let’s raise a glass to a future where the blue agave thrives alongside the communities that nurture it, and where every sip celebrates not just the taste, but the heart and soul of tequila.

Equity in Action: Valor Tequila – A Case Study

Valor produces exceptional, additive-free tequila in partnership with Atanasio (NOM 1599), a small, family-owned distillery that shares the same values for an equitable and sustainable future in San Pedro de los Landeros. Our core values prioritize respect for workers, fair wages, safe conditions, and regenerative agricultural practices that protect local ecosystems and pollinators. This ethical, human-centered business model serves as a blueprint for the industry.

The Gente Buena Foundation Partnership

Valor takes its commitment further through the Gente Buena Foundation, a non-profit championing sustainable growth and equitable prosperity across the tequila industry. Their transformative “10% For Prosperity” initiative reinvests 10% of all bottle proceeds back into the foundation’s core impact priorities:

  • Jornalero & Jimador Prosperity: Ensuring consistent and sustainable income for our agave farmers and harvesters, providing job security, and fostering opportunities for personal and professional growth.

  • Community Building: Developing and hosting expert-led workshops aimed at nurturing social cohesion among local producers. These workshops allow community members to coordinate effectively and enhance their influence in the global market.

  • Sustainable Production: Assisting farmers and producers in implementing sustainable production practices. This approach ensures the cultivation of healthy and thriving agave ecosystems while maintaining economic viability.

  • Water Security: Establishing a clean and dependable water supply, promoting the sustainability and well-being of local communities.

A Collaborative, Community-Driven Approach

Valor and the Gente Buena Foundation emphasize a collaborative, community-driven approach. They engage locals, academics, and environmental NGOs in identifying evolving needs and prioritizing initiatives. This ensures that their efforts truly address the specific challenges faced by the communities they aim to support. This collaborative model stands in stark contrast to traditional corporate social responsibility programs, which can often be top-down and miss the mark on what communities truly need.

The San Pedro de Los Landeros Water Equity Project

A flagship project of this collaborative model is the San Pedro de Los Landeros (SPL) Water Equity initiative in partnership with Pronatura. Following a comprehensive community assessment, immediate interventions are providing 24/7 clean water access through household cisterns and a new well pipeline. Funding for this project is secured through the foundation’s commitment, with potential state commission contributions on the horizon. This project exemplifies the impact that can be achieved when brands prioritize the well-being of the communities they source from.

A Holistic Vision for Community

Beyond water equity, Valor and the Gente Buena Foundation work with the SPL community to address other pressing issues identified through community meetings, including:

  • Women’s Health & Prosperity
  • Health & Human Services
  • Workforce & Professional Development
  • Reforestation
  • Transportation & Infrastructure

To learn more about our work and how you can get involved, visit!

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