Yes, we said it. Now hear us out…
If you love delicious things like we do, you probably have an obsession with avocados. If so, the news that they’re a problem food is probably pretty devastating.
Such shocking news warrants an explanation, and we’re here to help you come to grips with the avocado facts.
First off, why do we love them, and why are they so popular right now?
Well, they’re unique, so tasty, and in a lot of our favourite dishes. They also transform a boring meal into something complex and delicious. And ever since Mexican cuisine became one of the world’s go-to’s (guac especially), and we realized what avocados could do to sandwiches and even plain ol’ toast, we’ve never looked back.
They’re also a great source of good fats, fibre, and other valuable vitamins and nutrients.
If we’re looking at the avocado negatives that are common knowledge, we already know that they’re messy to handle and expensive. They’re also a bit tricky to read, and we’ve lost our fair share of avocado ripeness gambles.
These three factors alone don’t outweigh the positives, but when it comes to sustainability, there are other serious avocado facts that we don’t normally discuss over our smashed avo and poached eggs…
Competition, or lack thereof
Avocados don’t just grow in any old climate, making the competitive nature of avocado farming even more intense.
Relations in Michoacán – the prime avocado farming area in Mexico – are particularly worrisome, as drug cartels bully their way into involvement in the industry. Whether they’re forcibly taking over farms, laundering money, charging fees to avocado farmers in return for peace, or demanding ransoms from the farmers, they’ve realized what a big business avocado exporting is, and they’re looking for their cut.
Cartel control and monopoly on the avocado market only becomes more of a problem with increased demand, and avocado prices are sure to continue to climb along with their value.
Mix the popularity of avocados with the amount of water that they require to grow, and problem number two becomes pretty clear.
As far as crops go, avocados require a lot of water, and their water footprint is causing stress, particularly in dry regions. With the two biggest sources of avocado exports being Mexico and California, two very arid climates, the added water demand created by avocado growth is not doing anything to help the situation.
To put it into perspective, avocados require more than 7 times more water to grow than potatoes do. That’s a lot of water for such a novelty food item.
The avocado business is booming. This may seem like a great thing for farmers, but this means that farmers who grow other products are being tempted over to growing avocados instead.
All of this avocado farming requires farm land, which has led to the deforestation of mature trees and the kyboshing of other crop farming in order to make more room for the precious avocado.
Clearcutting of forests and a lack of crop diversity not only make other crops harder to come by, but they also put ecosystems and wildlife at risk.
So considering this, are we still willing to pay for avocados – with money, water, land and crime?
What you do with this information is up to you, but it’s important to be aware of the repercussions of our food choices, and a big part of adult-ing is making informed decisions.
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll consider skipping that extra $2 guac charge next time and opt for enviro ‘green’ over the avocado green.