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Mexico had a monopoly on the cultivation of vanilla until the mid-19th century, when the french brought the orchids to some islands In the Indian Ocean, including Madagascar, where it was commonly called bourbon vanilla. In Mexico plants depended on a special kind of bee, the Melipona, for pollination. Madagascar had none of these bees, so the french learned how to pollinate the flowers by hand. vanilla grown is no longer just for the bees. Not even in mexico. The city of Papantla is still the heart of the vanilla region in Mexico. Mountainous city, in the state of Veracruz. to grow the pods, the flowers must be hand pollinated and the pods are also hand picked. This is largely the reason for vanilla's price.
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