It is considered a superfood and is becoming increasingly fashionable , but its cultivation is causing an environmental drama that results in deforestation and destruction of unique ecosystems, rich in biodiversity.
In this post we are going to give a brief review of the environmental impact implied by the consumption of avocados, an issue that has been dragging for years, causing a progressive worsening of the situation, since the damages are accumulating.
Regardless of the fact that there are organic avocado crops that are also sustainable, because there are undoubtedly there, the environmental drama is concentrated precisely where these favorable conditions do not exist. They are extensive areas that do not stop growing, especially in Mexico.
- Mexico main world producer
- Why think twice before eating avocados
- Some sustainable alternatives
Mexico main world producer
Specifically, in some Mexican regions , where the loss of forest mass is due to this and other reasons, such as cattle ranching, urban growth, illegal logging and other crops.
The Purépecha Plateau, Michoacán, in the west of the country, is a particularly affected region, since 75 percent of the national production is cultivated there. Given that Mexico is the main producer of avocados, this percentage represents 65 percent of consumption worldwide.
The negative consequences range from putting species against the ropes (in this region there are different species of pines on the verge of extinction) to their effective disappearance, in addition to causing other problems derived from the imbalance of the ecosystem.
Not surprisingly, deforestation devastates forests in a massive way, and although not all of it is caused intentionally, natural factors are not its main threat. Whatever the reason, deforestation causes tremendous damage to the quality of soils, causing an alarming imbalance that is difficult to recover without reforestation .
Why think twice before eating avocados
The noted consequences are reason enough to think twice about eating avocados. Or, more accurately, when choosing the avocados we buy or deciding if we really want to buy them at such a high price.
In the last section of the post we give some ideas to find feasible alternatives to buying avocados that have a dramatic history of environmental destruction behind them. Taking into account, on the other hand, that this deterioration of the ecosystem is also suffered by human beings, and not only because it ends up with enclaves of great global ecological value, but also because of what this affects nearby populations.
In addition to the intensive use of the water necessary to maintain this crop (each kilo requires almost 250 liters of water), depriving the region of such a necessary resource, the pesticides, fertilizers and other chemical products used in these macro-crops pollute the waters and the same soil, as well as the ecosystem as a whole.
A problem that is difficult to solve due to the criminal nature that it has taken on in the Michoacán area. There, the farmers act clandestinely, often as part of the mafias, and as you can easily guess, their way of acting is synonymous with fires that cause deforestation whose objective is to obtain new land for cultivation .
For Mexican farmers, cutting pine trees to grow avocado trees is a business. “Sooner or later, they will end up cutting down all the pines,” the conservation organizations denounce. A problem that in New Zealand, another major world producer, takes the form of constant thefts of fruit in the fields or also in stores. The country suffered in 2016 a wave of night robberies in large-scale fields.
Some sustainable alternatives
This is an issue that, beyond its peculiarities, helps us to raise awareness about the environmental problems that can originate from consumer products about which we are not usually alert.
The case of palm oil is similar to this, and the problem has also been dragging on for years, perhaps longer than in the case of avocado, although the problem is similar. In this case, a search for a way to produce sustainable palm oil has begun, and although there is still a long way to go, some large multinationals are showing a positive attitude.
But what can we do? Is it in our power to change things? While recognizing that the laws and the industrial sector have practically all the responsibility, as the last link in the chain, also in both cases the attitude of the consumer is key to start solving this type of situation.
Although it is difficult to boycott this type of product, especially because it is difficult to find affordable alternatives, it does not mean that you should give it up.
Directly or indirectly, there are very different ways to act. Among other possibilities, we can opt for other organic fruits and vegetables at home , bought in local markets or conventional stores, and even for the same avocados from sustainable crops. Ideally, they also come from local commerce or, at least, from sustainable agriculture.
Or, why not, maybe we dare to plant our own tree to be able to have avocados bio grown by ourselves. It would be an interesting way to add the benefits of organic diets with those of sustainable nutrition.
Be that as it may, being aware of this problem is the first step to later trying to inform us about the origin of the avocados that we want to buy. We may not be able to make as green decisions as we want, because circumstances do not always allow it, but the mere fact of being aware and acting as much as possible already makes a big difference.
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