I know, we’re asking for a lot here, but it’s time we stop using hashtags to glamorize and perpetuate the death trend that is avocados.

First they came for the limes.
Then there was the plastic straws…
…and now the avocados.

I know, we’re asking for a lot here, but it’s time we stop using hashtags to glamorize and perpetuate the death trend that is avocados.

Before we begin, just note that this is probably going to be the most effort you’re ever going to put into any diet, but it’s worth it and I’m about to tell you why.

So, despite the fact that avocados are grown in climates ranging from California to South Africa, there are certain areas that take the lead in international exports, and are currently suffering some pretty extreme consequences.

Areas like Michoacan, West Mexico, are completely dependent on the avocado industry as it is currently driving the local economy. Like, I shit you not, when you enter the city you’ll be met with a giant avocado statue. Google it.

They even refer to avocados as “Green Gold”, and not in the ironic way we do after paying $12 for an avo toast.

Why are we focusing on Mexico?

40% of the world’s avocado production comes from Mexico.

Mexican avocado farmers generated $2.2 billion in profit in 2016 alone, and exports have increased by 400% since 2005.

At one point, avocado sales grew 39% in just one year.

(Kylie Cosmetics who?)

Obviously this situation has made them extremely vulnerable to crime, which brings us to our first point.

Mexican Drug Cartels and “Blood Avocados”

Due to the high demands we are putting on avocado farmers, they are now generating unwanted attention from Mexico’s notorious criminal and drug cartels.

As a business, because let’s face it, crime gangs and drug cartels are definitely businesses, their main focus is always going to be long term stability along with consistent profit.

So instead of investing in global funds on the side, they’re focusing on diversifying their income through the practice of extorting avocado farmers.

These cartels have recently been reported to be earning nearly $200 million per year through the sales of “Blood Avocados” to British traders.

Which is ironic considering avocados seem to be a staple in vegan diets.

Peace, love and extorting Mexicans?
Just saying.

Environmental Impact

This is going to blow your mind.
Ready?

It takes up to 300 liters of water to grow one avocado.

Not only that, but they are currently being produced in areas where the local population is suffering from acute draught.

No, that’s not a coincidence, it’s a direct cause, and it’s happening in Chilé as we speak.

Locals are being robbed of their drinking water because you want to hashtag #avolife, and this judgement is coming from the person who drunkenly ate five in one sitting last month. The guilt is real.

Oh, and it has five times the footprint of banana, because of the insanely long process of growing, ripening and transporting them.

Moving on.

Destroying Wildlife Habitats Through Deforestation

These draughts are obviously causing an avocado shortage in the West, but sadly our needs will continue to trump Mexico’s wellbeing (pun intended), and farmers are pushed to illegally destroy forest land in order to plant more and feed our consumerism.

By forcing avocado farmers to expand their croplands to keep up with our psychotic demands, they’ve now lost around 30% of the Michoacan region’s forest cover.

This obviously has a huge impact on the distribution of species, and will lead to high risks of extinction, with habitat loss ranging from 10-90%.

Feeling guilty, yet?

Health Problems and Illnesses In Locals

As if deforestation wasn’t enough to season some guilt into your diet, it’s now also become evident that the chemicals used in these avocado orchards are having a detrimental impact on the locals and their health.

There have been many reports of locals developing breathing difficulties and stomach problems, due to the extreme amount of pesticides needed to increase avocado production.

A good example of this is the Lake Zirahuen that has around 15 000 inhabitants who heavily rely on the lake for their drinking water.

It’s now recently been established that the water is “not fit for human consumption” and “potentially toxic during certain months”.

This has further been backed up by the fact that their children are growing up with a significant rise in liver and kidney issues that did not exist before the avocado trend took off.

So now what?

At this point this whole situation is probably giving you flashbacks to the whole Quinoa trend (read: fiasco), where a few years ago we drove up demand for imports from South America to the point where it became unaffordable for people in their own country, which was really messed up.

So considering all of these points, is it time to give up avocados completely?

Probably.

Obviously I’m not going to guilt you out of buying avocados without leaving you with some good replacements, so I recommend going for kale, celeriac and artichokes instead.

You’re welcome.

Categories: Health

36 Comments

Why It’s Time To Give Up Avocados

  1. This whole matter is quite saddening. I remember when this happened back in 2012 I think with the limes, the bar industry was Dramatically affected imagine the people that were angry or confused when they ordered a gin n tonic with a lime and was asked to pay for each slice of lime. I mean that far from the real issue but it does go down the line as they say. I hope over time an resolve can be made.

  2. Okay. Thanks so much for providing this information, however can you please provide me with sources for this piece. This is something that I honestly did not know. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. I recommend checking out “Gómez Tagle, 2016”, they did an amazing study confirming that the water conditions are unfit for human consumption, then “Ayala Ramírez et. al, 2010” who discovered copper levels in lake, “Bravo 2009” for more information on the hydric erosion due to deforestation and other factors, and “Barsimantov & Navia, 2012” focuses on the impact avocado croplands has had in terms of deforestation.

      As I mentioned in another comment, there are endless sources and studies online, so with a quick google search you really can dive into this topic for hours and hours. Definitely recommend reading more if you’re interested!

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Great article. These are the same points I like to use to shut up vegan advocates which can get terribly annoying at times. “So you are saying I am a bad person because I buy quality meat from the local farmer who knows his animals and I know where the money goes to, instead of eating my avocado- quinoa- dairy free cheese – meal that has been produced on the other side of the globe?”

    1. Exactly! It seems many vegans equate their lifestyle to being environmental friendly, when really there are a lot more factors involved.
      Glad you liked it, thanks for reading x

  4. I found this post relevant and engaging in general, and I completely agree that we should be aware of the environmental and humanitarian impact of all our food choices; you have to be extra careful with the stats and fact checking, though, because inaccuracies (and lack of references) take away credibility. Just an example: the average amount of water needed to grow one avocado is around 300 litres only in dry regions, such as in Chile (https://old.danwatch.dk/en/undersogelseskapitel/how-much-water-does-it-take-to-grow-an-avocado/). A more general average is 70 litres (according to the same source) which might seem also high, but to put it in perspective: one gallon of water is required to produce ONE almond, 13.8 gallons for one orange (https://www.businessinsider.com/amount-of-water-needed-to-grow-one-almond-orange-tomato-2015-4), and 1,729 gallons per lb of olive oil (https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/food-water-footprint_n_5952862?ec_carp=954412907003383533) (1 US gallon=3.785 litres).

    1. Ops, I see I was a bit unclear on that part, as I was specifically referring to Chilé – adjusted it now.

      Thanks for letting me know!

  5. I didn’t know this either. I only eat avocados occasionally, and I doubt I’ll be expanding my consumption. I would also be interested in the sources for this information. Thanks for sharing!

    1. In regards to the drug cartels, there are endless sources online as this has been a widely covered topic in the WSJ and NYtimes, most of the direct sources are the Mexican government who have been aware of the increasing problem for years now.
      To me, the more concerning part is the environmental impact, especially the example of Lake Zirahuen…

      I recommend checking out “Gómez Tagle, 2016”, they did an amazing study confirming that the water conditions are unfit for human consumption, then “Ayala Ramírez et. al, 2010” who discovered copper levels in lake, “Bravo 2009” for more information on the hydric erosion due to deforestation and other factors, and “Barsimantov & Navia, 2012” focuses on the impact avocado croplands has had in terms of deforestation.

      Regarding drug cartels I don’t see much point in boicotting avocados, as they will continue to focus their business on whatever “trend” there is, but I do think it’s important to be aware of the situation.

      Thanks for reading!

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  17. I’ve enjoyed avocados way before they were popular. I don’t eat a lot of them, so I think I will keep on doing so.
    The tidbit about blood avocados was rather interesting.
    However, a lot of the other statistics pertain to almost anything else.
    Interesting post.

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