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Another reason to eliminate NOM 199 – It destroys Mexican tradition

(This is the last week to register your public comments about NOM 199. You can read all of our coverage here but we have also asked for comment from a few people in the mezcal world. Here are comments from Rachel Glueck and Noel Morales who have created Amor del Diablo mezcal )

It’s clear that NOM-199 is made to keep market control in the hands of those already established. It’s a completely non-sensical proposal that is antithetical to what mezcal truly is, and a slap in the face to the real producers of mezcal. Mezcal is booming because of its authenticity and diversity, because it is directly linked to centuries-old traditions. The consumer craves that connection, and mezcal is one of the only spirits in the world that offers that.

Mezcal is not an industry; mezcal is a tradition. This Occidental idea of “industry” will ruin everything. It’s very important for the communities – the communities don’t buy whiskey for the ceremonies, they buy mezcal. If you destroy this, you destroy many things – including your industry.

This proposal is a repetition of the conquest of Mexico: first the resources, tradition, and rights of the natives are stolen for imperial (read: corporate) gain. Then those same natives are condemned to a life of poverty and dependence for not having the ability to meet foreign-imposed standards.

Don’t let us forget that the acts of conquest of the 16th and 17th centuries we now vehemently criticize, continue to this day, albeit more insidiously. NOM-199 is, quite simply, the theft of native knowledge and tradition for the benefit of big business. Should it pass, the Mexican people lose, the consumer loses. Only a handful of business owners will gain.

Does anyone need reminding of what happens when a rural village in Mexico is no longer able to support itself?Desperate people go to desperate places: either the USA in search of work, or the drug cartel.

If you want to understand what mezcal represents for real Mexicans you need to travel to Mexico for one of the native ceremonies that define local life. Here’s a video about Noel’s mother’s hometown of Mochitlan.

Max co-founded Mezcalistas with Susan way back in 2012. Before that he was a journalist at Salon.com and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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