Fatal Attraction: America's Avocado Mania Is Causing Deforestation
Picture the avocado: in its pure, unadulterated form, its rich and creamy center melts in your mouth.
It can be made into guacamole, added to salads, and paired with sandwiches or soups to lend a slightly nutty-tasting, healthy boost to an otherwise incomplete meal.
People love them. Americans really love them -- and apparently, our love for the versatile fruit combined with the rising prices to export them is fueling the deforestation of central Mexico’s pine forest because farmers are illegally destroying thousands of acres in order to expand their orchards to meet our ravenous demands.
Uh, yikes. Put down the avocado toast.
According to Grub Street, avocados yield some of the highest profits of all the crops in Mexico, with federal authorities saying that the lucrative nature of avocado-exportation has led farmers to take sneaky measures in order to continue growing avocados without the intervention of the authorities.
“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,” said Mario Tapia Vargas, a researcher at Mexico’s National Institute for Forestry, Farming and Fisheries Research, according to the Associated Press.
And it only gets worse. Vargas also said that a mature avocado orchard actually requires nearly twice as much water as your typical dense forest. In other words: The animals and forests that depend on Michoacan’s crystalline mountain streams aren’t getting as much water if its going to avocados instead.
Adds Greenpeace Mexico in a statement: “Beyond the displacement of forests and the effects on water retention, the high use of agricultural chemicals and the large volumes of wood needed to pack and ship avocados are other factors that could have negative effects on the area's environment and the well-being of its inhabitants.”
Maybe the time has come for us all to retire our tried and true social-media brunch darling. Avocado toast, we bid you farewell.
Get ready for your close-up, Zoats: Your time has come.