Vanilla: Madagascar’s Gold


I really enjoyed last week’s The Guardian’s Photojournal on vanilla trade in Madagascar. I did not know that so much was involved in getting that marvelous spice that I often add to my cakes. As a flashback, the process of pollination of vanilla was invented by a 12 years old Black slave from the island of Bourbon (Réunion): Edmond Albius.  His technique allowed for the pollinating of the vanilla orchids quickly and profitably.  Albius’s technique revolutionized the cultivation of vanilla and made it possible to profitably grow vanilla beans away from their native Mexico. Today, vanilla is the world’s most popular flavor, and surging demand has recently made the spice more expensive than silver; its aroma finds its way into cakes, perfumes, and all delicacies around the globe.

Bottle of Vanilla

This Guardian’s photojournal focuses on the people working the plantations of vanilla and hustling it in  Sambava, Madagascar, dubbed the Vanilla Capital of the world. Today, three quarters of the global vanilla crop is produced in this region, with 2,000 tons being exported from there. The photojournal shows the vanilla hustlers like never before. Despite the expense, vanilla is highly valued for its flavor. So, as you enjoy your vanilla ice cream, or add its delectable aroma into your cakes, or enjoy it in perfumes or aromatherapy, remember the island of Madagascar, and its vanilla hustlers.  Enjoy The Guardian’s Photojournal on vanilla trade!