Avocados truly are an incredible fruit! They’re delicious, nutritious, creamy, and so versatile. There’s no denying that, avocados have become a staple in the average health conscious Westerners diet and there’s also no denying that most avocado consumers are rather passionate about just how much they love them (myself included). However, sadly the mass consumption of this fruit has lead to some highly alarming issues that all of us avocado lovers must be aware of and actively seeking to change!
Before we get into some of the issues, I should mention that this article is in no way trying to bash the health benefits of avocados! Avocados contain a whole multitude of amazing properties for our bodies and I truly think they are such a healthy contribution to our diet!
Some of top health benefits are that:
- They contain tons of micronutrients: Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Folate, B Vitamins, etc.
- They are high super high in potassium (even higher than bananas)!
- They’re loaded with fibre
- They’ve been found to help lower cholesterol levels
- They contain heart healthy mono unsaturated fatty acids
- They’ve been found to help reduce inflammation within the body
Another amazing benefit of avocados is that certain parts of Mexico, where the majority of our avocados are grown, have been completely brought out of poverty – in less than 10 years. In fact, the avocado export industry is now worth over $2.4 billion dollars and has supported the Mexican economy in numerous ways!
The idea that “too much of a good thing is no good at all” stands very true for the avocado industry. As previously mentioned, sadly due to our obsession with avocados in Western countries, numerous highly concerning issues have resulted.
Here’s what’s happening:
- The massive economic boom of the industry, is attracting gang violence, cartels, and theft directed at innocent Mexican avocado farmers!
- There have been numerous reports of farmers being kid napped, hung and killed as criminal groups battle for control of the avocado trade
- This fruit is referred to as “green gold” and is now considered to be the new “blood diamonds”
- The mass demand for avocados has caused deforestation and soil degradation in what once was beautifully rain forested land, having a major contribution to climate change
- The effects of the agricultural chemicals (pesticides) that are used to grow non organic avocados are being found to be harming 1000’s of citizens in the surrounding villages of the main avocado growing regions within Mexico. These effects are showing up mostly as kidney and liver conditions, which were never present prior to the avocado boom
What Can We Do?
The good news: Boycotting isn’t the only option! Falko Ernst, from the International Crisis Group in Mexico explains, that fully boycotting the industry would be pulling the rug out from under the feet of thousands of hard working, peaceful families. He explains, “what the consumer can and should do is voice their expectations toward the companies they buy goods from, not to remain silent bystanders to human rights crises… “
So, here are the ACTION STEPS we can take:
- Reach out directly to the companies you buy avocados from! Tell them that you will only continue buying their avocados when they take a stand for the rights of their farmers. REMEMBER: consumers control industry and industry controls government. The more that North American companies take a stand for the innocent avocado farmers, the more the Mexican government will also be encouraged to get involved as they will undoubtedly be keen to protect their billion dollar industry
- Only buy FAIR TRADE & ORGANIC avocados. This is an absolute must! It doesn’t matter that avocados are on the “Clean Fifteen” list, the chemicals that are sprayed on them still effect the farmers, the citizens surrounding the farms, and the planet itself! Fair trade also helps to ensure that workers are being treated well and payed a fair wage
- Buy avocados grown from regions other than Mexico too! Although we of course want to continue supporting Mexican avocado growers, it’s also a good idea to buy avocados grown in other regions as well in order to “spread the love”!
- Reduce your consumption: If you’re eating A TON of avocados every week, it’s time to diversity your diet and start incorporating other foods grown locally to you! Not to say you should never eat them, but it’s important to remember that the more foods you consume grown locally to where you live, the more connected you can be with the impacts they’re having on other individuals and the planet.
So in conclusion, this issue is very complex! As consumers it is important we are always aware of the impact our food is having. It’s clear to see that morally if we want to all continue consuming avocados, we all need to stand up for the farmers who grow them for us by reaching out to companies directly. It’s also important to reduce our consumption so we can be more in touch with where ALL of our food is coming from and the impact it has on the greater world around us. SO, maybe the next time you’re craving avocado toast, instead opt for hummus toast – it’s equally creamy and delicious! I love topping mine with roasted carrots and fresh dill (see below).