The True Cost of Avocado Toast
By Haley Norris
Avocado toast has become somewhat of a staple. Once a trend, the green fruit has gained a cult following appearing on t-shirts, purses, and starring in almost every vlogger’s, “What I Eat in a Day.” The fruit went from a supporting role as guacamole to an A-list Celebrity becoming highly fetishized by Americans. Personally, I love avocados! I have loved them since they were just guacamole and a good source of good cholesterol. Lately though, I have had to replace my morning munchie. Why? Have you ever heard how the things you love will hurt you the most? The truth is, avocado production is terrible to the environment, the communities that produce it, and has started a cartel war!
I know, I know. Haley, you’re nuts. A war over avocados? I wish I was joking. The avocado industry’s worth is in the billions since exports have increased so dramatically the last few years. One of the main places that exports avocados is Mexico, a country that has already been battling back narcotics trafficking for years. The upturn in the avocado’s popularity should have been a situation where the locals and orchard owners' quality of life improved. It should have been a turning point for the many people in the region to build better, bigger lives. However, the fruit is now seen as lucrative as gold and those locals are now being forced from their farms at gunpoint so warring cartels can plant more avocados. If farmers choose to stay and cultivate their own avocados, they are often “taxed,” but really they are being forced to pay for the right to live their own lives.
So avocados originating from Mexico aren’t socially responsible. That’s okay I will buy Chilean avocados. Wrong! Chile has a privatized water system, (they say it is regulated not privatized but it is privatized,) and has been experiencing one of the worst droughts in this current generation. Each person is allocated 50 liters of water per day since most of the potable water is delivered via tanker. One avocado takes approximately 60 gallons of water to grow. That is 227.125 liters. A singular avocado takes away the water of four people. People are being pushed from their homes because large scale avocado companies are illegally taking what little water is left and not providing anything to the community but flakey short term employment for those lucky enough to get it. As I was writing this article, a U.N. Water Expert posted a statement stating, “The Chilean Government would not be fulfilling its international human rights obligations if it prioritizes economic development projects over the human rights to water and health.” There is a pandemic and a drought, yet they are still permitting the over-cultivation of avocados.
So what is the true cost behind a slice of avocado toast? In all honesty, avocados have a disastrous impact on people and the environment, but so do a lot of other things. Fast fashion and avocados have become staples in our lives because the world has become a question about, “what would make the best Instagram photo,” despite the resources or people who are mistreated to produce them. Avocados used to be a healthy kitchen essential for these communities, yet now all it brings them is strife. I know you care about the issues and also love avocados. This does not mean you need to give it up, just be mindful if you are overconsuming or if you can make changes. In a society of government and corporate corruption, we need to be cognizant of who we trust and ‘what we buy.
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