You might not realise it but avocados, one by one, are destroying the planet. Of all the fruits and vegetables you can buy, avocados are up there with one of the most destructive. But does that mean you should stop buying avocados?
But why are avocados bad for the environment? Unfortunately, the list is extensive:
Requires Excessive Quantities of Water
When it comes to water, avocados are greedy! To produce one kilo of avocados, a staggering 2,000 litres of water is required.
Living in the UK, water is often taken for granted. You head into the kitchen, turn on the tap and water pours out. But avocados are grown in remote South American villages where water is a luxury.
Unfortunately, avocados are regularly treated with more respect than the villagers who live close to avocado plantations. Avocado farmers will often install illegal pipes to divert water leaving villagers and other farmers with no water in some of the most arid areas of the planet.
To put all of this into some perspective, the average avocado requires the same amount of water as running the shower constantly for an hour.
Shipped Across the Globe
You won’t be growing an avocado tree in your back garden here in the UK. They hate the cold and love the heat… The opposite of the British weather! Avocados are grown in far hotter climates in countries including Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia.
And what do all these places have in common? They’re miles away from the UK. The only way to get avocado into the British supermarkets is to ship it across the planet. Avocados from Mexico would have to travel over 5,500 miles to reach the UK!
This, along with the production process of avocados means that a small pack of 2 avocados has a carbon footprint of nearly 900g CO2 (according to Carbon Footprint Ltd).
If you eat an avocado a week, you’ll add 15kg to your personal, annual carbon footprint. The same quantity in apples would see you add just 2kg to your carbon footprint and peas would be only 1.4kg!
Funds Criminal Gangs
No, really! It’s so lucrative.
Cartels in South America are run like businesses and are always on the lookout for ways to diversify their criminal portfolio. With avocados being such a lucrative and profitable market, cartels have begun offering protection services to farmers in exchange for a tax.
In other words: Extortion.
Unfortunately, the world is a nasty place and trying to avoid buying anything that may or may not have benefits for criminal gangs is near-impossible.
With avocados being so lucrative, pine trees are being chopped down to make way for avocado trees – and not always legally.
In just one state of Mexico, it is estimated that 17,000 acres of deforestation, solely for avocado trees, occurs each year! Football fields are often used as a comparison so we won’t disappoint – that’s the equivalent of over 35 football pitches being cut down every day!
Deforestation is something you and I all know about. Everyone knows it is bad for the planet. With avocados being a direct cause of deforestation this is one of the clear reasons why avocados are bad for the environment.
Are Avocados Worse Than Meat?
Avocados might be bad but they pale in comparison to meat (and fish). Farmed salmon, for example, has a carbon footprint of 11.9kg of CO2 per kilo consumed which is around 13 times larger than a pack of avocados.
But it is meat – especially cattle such as beef – that has an almighty carbon footprint. A kilo of lamb will have a carbon footprint of 39.2kg of CO2 which is a whopping 46 times larger than avocados.
Avocados may be bad for the environment but meat, fish, dairy and other produce will beat it to the bottom.
How Do You Make Avocados More Sustainable?
Unfortunately, with demand continuing to grow for avocados, there are not many incentives for farmers to turn to sustainable methods when their main focus is on their bottom line. However, there is a rare breed of avocado farmers looking to do things differently.
One farm in Sicily is trying to do its bit for the planet. They use rainwater where possible, limit food waste, use sustainable packaging and farm organically. Unfortunately, they are in the minority and that is unlikely to change any time soon.
Unfortunately, unless you make an effort to only buy local produce, most food that is shipped from sunnier climates is not going to be good for the environment.
But avocados take this to a whole new level. They require copious levels of water to produce, encourage deforestation and are shipped from across the globe – all things that have a hugely negative impact on the planet.
The bad news in the UK is that there really is no alternative. You either buy avocados that are shipped from across the other side of the planet or you forfeit eating avocados entirely. The only real solution is to stop buying avocados.