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Avocados may not be as Green as they look
By admin October 3, 2016

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Avocados have become a staple in our modern diets. What was once an exotic fruit today has become a trendy add to our everyday recipes; whether smashed, crushed or sliced on toast, it is without doubt a fruit which is savoured all across the world.

This particular fruit has not only become part of our culinary experience but also part of our political discussion.  For example, the European Union imports some 440,000 tonnes of avocados each year. And while agricultural output is keeping up with demand, we rarely stop to consider the environmental impacts of this trendy crop, distracted as we are by the new experiences and health benefits it delivers.

In fact, it seems that avocados may not be as green as they look, and their increasing consumption may be environmentally unsustainable. Its popularity has pushed many farmers to illegally cut and reduce forests to export this fruit. This practice has raised major environmental concerns about deforestation in Mexico, a nation that produces 30% of the 4.7m tonnes of avocado harvested globally. As its prices continue to rise dramatically in the US – only in the period between January and July the price of avocado increased from 86 cents to about $1.10 – farmers are changing their production strategies, substituting the harvest of other traditional crops with avocado plants.

This has had obviously important consequences for the environment. According to a report by the Tapia Varga’s institute, the expansion of avocado production caused losses of forest land of about 690 hectares (1.700 acres) a year between 2000 and 2010.

Avocado’s environmental impacts are not limited to deforestation – there is also an impact on wildlife as the Mexico’s forests contain much of the wintering grounds of the local fauna. Moreover, a mature avocado orchard uses almost twice as much water as a fairly dense forest; meaning less water reaches the crystalline mountain streams on which the forests and animals depend.

This lucrative business has also fuelled Mexico’s drug gangs, with extortion money paid to criminal organizations such as Los Caballeros Templarios (The Knights Templar) in Michoacán – the state that produces most of Mexico’s avocados – estimated at 2bn pesos ($109m) a year.

Finally, Greenpeace Mexico said people were likely to suffer too. “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 wellbeing of its inhabitants,” the organization said.

Many of the larger volume crops such as cereals, sugar and many fruits now have a legacy of assurance and traceability where environmental and social sustainability is assessed along their supply chains. Therefore, it will be increasingly important to expand programmes focused on assessing the sustainability of food production for high-value ingredients, such as this staple crop.  Raising consumers’ awareness will be vital in maintaining a healthy and trendy diet while keeping up with a clear conscience in what we slice on our toasts.

For More Information:

Trendy foods should come with a recipe for sustainability

Rising avocado prices fuelling illegal deforestation in Mexico

Greenpeace Mexico website

Why your avocado toast could be destroying Mexican forests

FAOStat on deforestation

 

 

 


Thanks for sharing !


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