They are more popular than ever but their eco-balance is not as rosy. In itself the avocado cannot really be described as beautiful. Pimply skin, often brown spots- not your typical beauty standards. However, inner beauty counts, right? And here the avocado convinces with a smooth-buttery-nutty taste, versatility in its use and its health benefits! Avocados are rich in Vitamin E, Potassium, Unsaturated fats, Folic acid and contain valuable amino acids.
Avocado consumption within the EU doubled only within the last 5 years! Unfortunately, the increasing demand has adverse effects on the environment as this fruit requires plenty of water to grow and also travels quite a bit to get on our plates.
Why is it a problem fruit?
The Avocado’s massive water needs makes its cultivation in dry and warm countries very irrigation-intensive. I’ve read that only 2.5 Avocados require an extortionate 1000l water to grow. This equals 7 full bath tubs – even imagining that gives me a headache… In really dry areas, the water needs to be pumped up from the groundwater or be derived from rivers – and might then be lacking elsewhere. Thus, it makes sense to make a conscious choice to buy avocados from areas with more precipitation: go for the ones from Spain, Peru or Kenya and avoid South Africa or Israel.
Food Miles. A topic people increasingly start to think about & check what origin country a product’s label states. Avocados often have a long journey behind them and emit plenty of carbon dioxide on their way: the ones from overseas are shipped, the Spanish ones are loaded on trucks. The shorter way of the latter definitely wins me over.
Then another social and environmental issue is the increased use of chemicals during cultivation. The pesticides used can spill down into ground water and rivers and cause illness in local communities. When buying organic you can trust in less chemicals being used & better controls.
How to select a perfectly ripe avocado in the supermarket?
There is nothing worse then wanting to make a nice guacamole and buying an Avocado – declared as ‘perfectly ripe’ which then turns out as rock-hard. So much for a nice Mexican Tortilla Evening with your friends – no fun without the guac!
Avocados rarely ripen on the tree, they are usually harvested while still unripe. If you find avocados in your grocery store that are already soft, then they are mostly those that have been lying in storage rooms at the supermarket for some time. You should choose one that is not too soft already but not hard either. If you have trouble “feeling it” you need to look out for that little stem at the top of an avocado as this is a good indicator of what’s inside. The next time you grab an avocado, flick off the stem, and check to see what the colour underneath looks like. If it looks bright yellowish and if the avocado itself gives into pressure slightly with just a bit of a squeeze, then it’s good to go!
And then another tip, try and choose one that is not wrapped in plastic. First of all you are already doing something good for the environment in avoiding this, second of all you can really feel the avocado and won’t miss a mouldy spot perfectly hidden by the plastic advert.