There are very few fruits, in fact anything at all, that has enjoyed a surge in popularity quite like the avocado. In the fifteen years from 2000 to 2015, global avocado consumption grew by 300% to around 4.25 BILLION avocados a year. I don't think I even liked avocado until about five years ago, and now I'm obsessed!
Part of the growth of avocado demand is down to the Hass Avocado Board, which launched one of the most successful marketing campaigns of the last decade, resulting in avocado being the superfood. You can now find avocado in just about anything - from sushi to avocado toast, from "healthy" brownies to face masks!
You may have heard about the rise of eco-anxiety relating to avocados, but not really understood why. Here are four key reasons:
1. WATER: It takes 1,000 litres of water to grow just 1kg of avocados. Avocado orchards are water-hogging to say the least, compared to say the humble broccoli that only requires 45 litres of water for 1kg of produce. Water supplies in Mexico and California are precious as it is, without being diverted away from forests and animals.
2. DEFORESTATION: To make way for lucrative avocado orchards, hectares of pine trees are being illegally cut down. The loss of thousands of trees which have environmental benefits to us from modest water absorption through to oxygen production is a disaster for our planet. Let's not forgot about felling trees just to make the crates to transport the avocados!
3. POWER: Farmers are finding themselves at the mercy of drug cartels in Mexico, such as Los Caballeros in Templarios. If farmers refuse to make regular payments to gangs, they'll find their orchards burnt down. What Mexicans once called "green gold" is now being renamed "blood guacamole". Profitability that should belong to farmers and their families is being siphoned off to drug cartels.
4. PESTICIDES: To keep up with an ever-growing global demand for avocados, farmers are resorting to more and more pesticides and chemicals to ensure a high yield. These seep into the water system and physically harm local communities. A teacher in Jujucato, told The Independent that more and more of his students are suffering from breathing and stomach problems. It's also been said that during the fumigation process, people in the vicinity cannot stop sneezing due to allergic reactions to the chemicals.
So what can we do about it? Clearly this is a huge problem that we cannot solve alone. But, there are steps we can take to improve the industry's problems: we should try to buy organically and locally (ie from Spain rather than Mexico), and calm down the Insta-obsession a little. There's more on a brunch menu than just Avo on Toast, right? If you're eating avocados at home, be sure to wash them too.