Whether you’re a vegan, blogger, environmentalist, or just a straight up health fanatic, chances are that you love eating avocados every chance you get. You have it in your smoothie, at brunch, on toast, and even on your face. Lately, the United Kingdom and USA has experienced an avocado craze, with its consumption quadrupling. However, despite the green fruit’s success, its economic and environmental costs are much more complicated than what we might imagine. Read on for Avocado War: Demand Causes Chaos & Costs Lives in Mexico.
Not only has the popularity of avocados fueled its deforestation, it has also led to water shortages and has encouraged illicit activities. Mexico – more specifically, the province of Michoacán – is the largest producer of avocados in the world, making its population most vulnerable to all the repercussions. It is now more profitable for Mexican farmers to grow avocados than other crops. Thus, growers are disregarding the law and cutting down pine forests to plant avocado trees instead. The farmers make it almost impossible to detect the illegal activity from above, as they begin by planting the fruits under the canopy and then cut back to the forest.
The forests provide most of the wintering grounds for Monarch butterflies during their migration patterns, threatening the butterflies along with the rest of the local wildlife that occupies the Michoacán state.
Also, in comparison to other crops, avocado plantations require frequent cycles of chemical input to survive and are prone to drink up large amounts of irrigation water, putting pressure on local water reserves. It takes approximately 272 litres just to grow about half a kilo of avocados – that seems incredible when you think about just the 24 litres needed to grow half a kilo of tomatoes!
Unfortunately, the distress that follows this so-called ‘green gold’ fruit continues. Its trade has become even more profitable than that of marijuana, thus, avocados can now get you killed. Most of the plantations are run by the Caballeros Templarios Drug Cartel – they oblige farmers to give up their income and those who don’t comply, are murdered. The avocado boom has made the province of Michoacán one of the most dangerous in Mexico. Perhaps, now we know where the term ‘blood guacamole’ comes from.
I guess it’s safe to say that the dairy and meat industry aren’t the only ones which negatively affect the environment – excessive growing of avocados do too! Of course, avocados are considered a superfood as they contain many health benefits. But, it’s also important to realise what we’re eating, where it comes from and how it’s affecting people and their localities.