The Problem With Our Avocado Obsession

When we go to the store and pass the produce section, more and more of us grab a few avocados, bag ’em up and take ’em home (where they end up in guacamole dip for Monday Night Football, at least in my house). That demand is so great that it’s leading to severe land problems in Mexico.

In an article titled “Why You Need To Stop Eating Avocados Immediately,” Cosmopolitan says “This is mostly due to the high demand and top dollar farmers can receive for their harvest. AP reports that price tags on avocados leapt from about 86 cents each in January to around $1.10 in July. What’s more, the peso lost 16 percent of its value against the dollar this year, making the Mexican avocado cheaper for — and therefore more preferable to — U.S. customers. This magic formula has made avocados by far the best profit-earning crop for Mexican farmers. So there’s much motivation to keep chopping down the pines.”

It’s the time-honored law of supply and demand. The U.S. demand for avocados is great, so according to an article in Hello Giggles, farmers are going against government wishes and are clearing out more and more land for planting. Herein lies the problem.

Mario Tapia Vargas is a scientist at Mexico’s National Institute for Forestry, Farming, and Fisheries Research. He said that farmers are thinning out the pine forests to plant avocados under the forest canopy. Then the rest of the forest gets thinned to allow sunlight to stream through.

“Even where they aren’t visibly cutting down forest, there are avocados growing underneath (the pine boughs), and sooner or later they’ll cut down the pines completely,” he said.

What can you do? Buy California-grown avocados instead. That way you won’t be contributing to Mexican land devastation. Here are some tasty breakfast ideas just waiting for them, too!

Photo by Elin Schönfelder