The avocado is the hottest health food out there right now; it’s right up there with quinoa and raw almonds. Put that green mush on a plate or a slice of it on the side and you’ve got an Instagram-worthy dish and (apparently) a healthy meal. But before you stick another chip in guacamole or spread more of that good stuff on toast, there’s something you should know: the planet is not meant to grow this many avocados. Uh oh.
That’s right. While you’re getting your ‘healthy fat,’ the planet is dying. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but the sudden increase in demand for avocados has taken a toll on the natural environment of Mexico. Farmers are having to choose between the forests that support wildlife or expanding their avocado farms. That’s a tricky one.
Avocado trees are native to South Central Mexico and have become a great cash crop for farmers there, since the Big Avocado Popularity Boom of 2014. It seemed like almost overnight everybody was eating that fruit with the healthy fat (yes, it is a fruit, it’s got a pit). That seems like a great thing for those farmers, and it is, except they can’t keep up with the world’s exponential demands with the land they have.
Farmers have started cutting down Mexico’s precious woodlands to plant more avocado crops. These woodlands are sensitive environments that support the migrated monarch butterflies as well as other animals and plants, and Mexico’s forestry industry.
The Mexican government is trying to regulate and police the practice of avocado farming but people are getting sneaky and planting the avocado trees under the tree canopy, then trimming back the forest. It’s almost impossible to keep on top of all the illegal avocados.
So maybe this health craze isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As every health expert will tell you, avocados should be eaten in moderation, like everything else. We should probably start thinking twice before adding avocado to literally every meal. Avocados are good, but so is a sustainable environment. Hold the guac.