It is a fruit which meets astonishing success. The avocado has experienced a real boom in recent years. But the production of this green gold has negative effects on the environment. Very water consuming, its intensive production dries up entire territories, degrades the soil and biodiversity. And the problem is not only ecological, its success attracts the greed of organized crime.
It’s the avocado heyday. For several years now, its consumption has exploded around the world. In Europe, the World Avocado Organization notes an increase in consumption from 202 million tonnes in 2008 to 650 million ten years later. Poke bowl, toast, guacamole … Avocado comes in many forms. In 2015, it was voted the most popular food on the Pinterest social network. A year later, after many petitions, the avocado even got his own Emoji introduced by Apple.
It must be said that this fruit, presented as a “superfood”, has real nutritional benefits. While high in calories, it is rich in antioxidant vitamin E, unsaturated fatty acids beneficial to cardiovascular health, and minerals such as potassium or magnesium. The “avocado mania” has mostly been worn by stars touting these benefits. Faced with this new obsession with food and the high profitability linked to its cultivation, many farmers in South America have turned to this new green gold. The environmental consequences are dire.
Exceptional water demand
This green fruit requires a lot of water. Producing a kilogram of avocados thus requires 1,000 liters of water, notes the newspaper Die Zeit, which in 2016 investigated the ecological disaster linked to avocado cultivation. For example, according to the World Economic Forum, in the Mexican state of Michoacan, the world’s largest avocado producer, approximately nine million cubic meters of water are used daily, the equivalent of 3,000 Olympic swimming pools. This excessive extraction of water would have unintended consequences such as the multiplication of small earthquakes in the area.
“Intensive avocado production has resulted in loss of biodiversity, extreme weather conditions, considerable soil degradation and is on the verge of causing an entirely man-made environmental disaster,” warns the World Economic Forum, which also points to risk of illegal deforestation to make way for avocado plantations.
Chefs boycott lawyers
Especially since the problem is not just environmental. The avocado’s success attracts the lust of organized crime. “In 2013, the inhabitants of several villages in Michoacan took up arms, exasperated by the rackets of a drug cartel, which is trying to seize their green gold in this strategic area of the production of marijuana and methamphetamines “, says Le Monde.
Faced with the harmful effects of the avocado boom, some restaurants have decided to stock up on Corsican avocado, during the season, or simply to cross it off their menu. This is the case of starred chef Florent Ladeyn, former candidate for the show Top chef.