Vanilla Beans, Vanilla planifolia, are the dried unripe fruit pods of a climbing orchid vine. Although its sensual aroma helps soothe your soul, relax nerves, ease tension, lift your mood, and act as an aphrodisiac. But vanilla doesn't just smell amazing, it is also fabulous for your skin!
The Totonac people who lived along the eastern coast of Mexico were among the first to cultivate vanilla on farms. According to Smithsonian Magazine the medicinal use of vanilla to help heal wounds can be traced back to 3th-century Mexico.
The major constituent of vanilla beans, vanillin, is a powerful antioxidant that helps the skin repair cell damage and help soothe and calm irritated areas on the skin. Its anti-inflammatory properties help ease muscle strain and tension. Vanilla bean-infused oils can be used for relaxing massages, calming baths, or as a deliciously moisturizing body oil.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron. Growing vanilla seed pods is labor-intensive. It takes up to three years after the vines are planted before the first flowers appear. Each flower opens only one day a year for a few hours before wilting and must be hand-pollinated by workers in order to produce the vanilla bean fruit. Each flower produces a single bean. The yellow unripe beans are picked, boiled, and then dried slowly in the Sun over a period of months. As the beans dry and shrivel the flavors concentrate.
“Fair for Life” is a neutral third-party certification program for social accountability and fair trade in agricultural, manufacturing, and trading operations. Fair Trade helps consumers support products that come from farms that have been certified to provide fair wages and safe working conditions. Socially responsible and fair trade operators also need to take care to protect the environment at and around their production or processing sites.