Why I (almost) no longer eat avocado
This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
Eating meat is one of the biggest environmental sins of all. But I probably don’t have to preach morality at this point. I assume that my readers tend to be vegetarian/vegan or at least have taken a critical look at the topic. Nevertheless, here is the bare figure: factory farming is responsible for as much as 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than all the planes, cars and trains put together. And did you know that 70 percent of the world’s fresh water consumption is used for meat production?
What are climate-friendly foods?
So we should start with our food, especially if we want to do something good for our planet. Climate-friendly food, that’s a word everyone is talking about at the moment. But what does that actually mean, climate-friendly? What may now be banished to the plate and what belongs? This is the question my blog post should be looking into today. I focus on the avocado. This is not only because we love them especially and consume them in excess. No. This is mainly due to the fact that this fruit goes hand in hand with a story that is anything but creamy.
The insatiable drunkard
To anticipate it right away: Avocados are not food that should be eaten in bulk with a clear conscience. You guessed it, didn’t you? And yet they end up on the bread of many people almost daily. A real avo hype has broken out on Instagram (remember the many pixel avocados, the avocado roses, the specimens cut out in hearts and stars, etc.). And even though you probably don’t want to know: For avocado cultivation, pine forests felled, artificial fertilizers and pesticides sprayed. And also a lot of water is wasted: 540 litres of water for one kilo of avocado. By way of comparison, a kilogram of tomatoes can manage with an average of 180 litres, and a kilogram of lettuce with 130 litres.
In the meantime, the avocado business has become so lucrative that criminal activities are underway and farmers are being exploited more and more frequently. In other words: those who eat a lot of avocado not only harm the environment but also people. The fact that so many avocados are exported to Europe at all is only possible because South African and South American agriculture produces under very unequal conditions. So far so good. Does this mean that you can’t buy any of the creamiest fruits anymore?
The avocado as a symbol of healthy nutrition
I think it depends on the measure, as everywhere in life. Avocados are not the kind of food that you should treat yourself to every day as a basic stock in shopping. But the question should be much more than that: When will consumers (i. e. we) in the industrialized nations realize that they have made an ecologically questionable fruit a symbol of healthy nutrition?
In Mexico, up to 4,000 hectares of forest are illegally cleared each year to plant avocado plantations. Eighty percent of drinking water is used for agriculture, and water is already a scarce commodity there anyway. Unbelievable when you imagine that the avocados alone swallow half of it. It is clear to us that we must actively preserve the environment if future generations want to survive on earth. And this insight is becoming more and more accepted. Supermarkets forbid plastic bags. Even student dormitories take care of sorting their garbage. You buy more consistently organic. Nevertheless, this is an exotic fruit, the avocado, more popular than ever before. If you don’t like them, you don’t seem to have arrived in 2017.
All because of the diet hypes?
It is difficult to tell when the hype surrounding the avocado really started. However, the fact that even scientists are working on this question shows how big the problem could actually be. Some of them say that the fruit, with a fat content such as milk chocolate, has managed to make its way onto the market by changing diets in Europe. Meanwhile, the majority of people have gotten away from all the low-fat diets and products. Fat is no longer demonized as it was last century. On the contrary, today it is emphasized how healthy it is to ingest unsaturated fatty acids. These are present in nuts as well as in avocados. This small excursion into the science and the explanation of the hypes around the avocado should suffice at this point. Because this blog post is much more concerned with the issue of sustainability. There are worlds between environmental awareness and environmental behaviour. Everyone wants to protect the environment. Restricting oneself, but none. Do you know this? Yes, I do.
It is precisely with the growing number of vegans – which is a movement I only welcome – that a lifestyle has been created that totally identifies with environmental love. But if we take a closer look, I have the feeling that only a small part of these people are concerned with the question of where our food comes from. And you know what? I totally understand that, because I have to face it again and again. The exotic fruits also look too tempting when they present themselves so beautifully shiny in the supermarket. If you really wanted to go that far and eat in an environmentally friendly way, you would have to completely eliminate the avocado from the menu. And before anyone comes and says that their fruit is only organically grown: even an organic avocado is a widely traveled fruit that drinks insatiable on its way.
Good news – or not?
Now I have demonized the avocado. I’ve taken away your appetite for it or at least managed to curb it (I hope so). And now you’re probably going to go through all my recipes and hope you find avocado there. And you know what? You will be. Because I’m only human myself. To be more precise, a vegan who has also risen to this hype and has often indulged in one of these fruits. But let me also say: Since I have informed myself and know that on the other side of the world people and the environment suffer for my enjoyment, I can’t enjoy them that much any more. That’s why avocado is becoming less and less common with me. And when I buy one, it’s only from Spain. These are probably the only good news in this article. Our neighbouring country produces avocados. Unfortunately, however, still too less. Europe consumes between 400,000 and 500,000 tons of avocados per year, of which only 10 percent are of Spanish descent.
My tip for you: In the future look twice, where your fruits come from. And consider, no matter how beautiful they look, what misfortune they could bring with them. Then you can enjoy more consciously.