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Helping to support ethical farming and reverse climate change – one drink at a time!

Here at Gusto Organic, we are ‘Climate Friendly’ and believe that our sustainable credentials really resonate with our brand values and form the DNA of everything we do. You see, we don’t just mix our drinks using the finest quality ingredients, but we really care about the planet; that’s why we source from Fairtrade communities and projects around the world and with the help of the wonderful agave plant, are producing climate-friendly, carbon-neutral organic drinks.

We are always waxing lyrical about the fact that we don’t use refined sugar in our drinks. So many big brands are loading their drinks with toxins and sugar. Instead, we sweeten with the finest Fairtrade blue agave from Jalisco in Mexico, which actually tastes a little sweeter than sugar, so we can use less agave, which helps reduce the calories in our drinks. It has a much lower glycemic index, so it doesn’t spike your blood sugars in the way that refined sugar does either.

In 2018 Gusto Organic, worked with a co-operative of 200 farms covering 15,000 acres to help them gain Fairtrade certification. In the Summer of 2019 that Fairtrade Certification was finally granted after an exhaustive analysis of their employment contracts, workers rights and farming practice. Now, for every kilo of Fairtrade agave we purchase, 15% of the purchase price goes into a bank account for the farmers and their families to fund projects that span education, healthcare and infrastructure.

Agave has a nectar-like flavour, which is incredibly comforting and tastes really good, and, aside from being a delicious and more healthy way of sweetening your drink, it’s agave’s ethical qualities that actually make this ingredient our ultimate favourite! At Gusto, we use over 10,000 kilos of blue agave a year.

And those tonnes of agave are supporting a Fairtrade project in Mexico which is paying 2.5 times the average agricultural wage and is focused on sustainable communities, gender equality, protecting indigenous people – a lot of things that aren’t just lip service, but actually have direct benefits for farming communities. The best bit is that agave, and the ethically sustainable farming of this amazing plant has the potential to literally save the planet!

The impact of food production on the environment has been devastating across the globe. Unsustainable land use and greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to rising temperatures and other effects of climate change. Farming, livestock and deforestation have already depleted natural habitats and the richness of soil, forests and eco-systems in many regions.
Now, agave is being heralded by scientists as a valuable tool in the fight against climate change. Experts believe that agave-based agroforestry could actually help to reverse global warming!

Experts say that agave alone can absorb the dry weight equivalent of 30-60 tons of Co2 per hectare per year. When planted together with nitrogen-fixing companion trees such as mesquite, acacia and wattle, agave can lower the amount of carbon from the atmosphere and produce more above and below-ground biomass – improving the land quality too.

Agave and their companion trees can grow in hot climates and require little to no irrigation meaning they can be used by farmers in areas affected by drought. This agave-based agroforestry can be used to green the drylands and store and sequester carbon. Farmers in Mexico call the system “Modelo Zamarripa”.

It’s a self-sustaining system where nothing goes to waste. The root stem of the plant is farmed and made into syrup – this is what’s used to sweeten our Gusto Organic drinks. The ‘pups’ put out by the mother plant’s horizontal root system are continuously restocking and expanding the agroforestry system. Sheep and goats graze across the farms and consume the leafy waste fibres, which are processed and naturally fermented to make them digestible.
These pioneering farmers are improving the fertility and moisture-holding capacity of their land, promoting rural food self-sufficiency and prosperity. But, if you scale that upon the millions of currently degraded and overgrazed rangelands worldwide, these agave agroforestry models have the potential to help reverse global warming.

If farmers and ranchers can stop overgrazing pastures and rangelands, eliminate slash and burn practices, and instead reforest, revegetate, rehydrate and re-carbonise depleted soils through agroforestry, the mighty agave plant could be the key to saving the planet!

And, back in the UK, by driving the market for it and investing in sustainable Fairtrade farming, we at Gusto like to think that we are helping – one drink at a time!

As if to underline that point, in 2017, Gusto Organic Drinks were voted no.1 ethical cola in the UK by Ethical Consumer Magazine.

We reckon we must be doing something right…

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