The avocado tree is native to Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, and the West Indies), it belongs to the Lauraceae family, but today it can be found anywhere in the world. It is a plant whose flowers are hermaphrodites – it has male and female flowers in the same inflorescence – being thus necessary to have two types of plants to guarantee the fertilization of the flowers.
The production of an avocado tree varies between 200 and 800 fruits per year, and there are more than 500 varieties around the world. Today there is a true globalization of the avocado that has intensified in the last decade, thanks to the nutritional power of the avocado, scientifically recognized and that has conquered in Hollywood the hearts of many celebrities. In addition of being a gold standard in the daily diet of more and more consumers worldwide, influenced by the fashion of avocado, the cosmetics industry also fell in love with this tropical fruit, starting to exploit this mine until exhaustion, with the launch of products each more innovative.
The world’s largest avocado producers are in Latin America, in particular, Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia. The 2013 registrations point to world production of 4.7 million tonnes. Only in 2016, Mexico, the world’s largest producer with a share of about 30%, was responsible for the export of more than one million tons of avocado, having even exceeded oil as the product that generates the most profit for the Mexican economy.
The success of the “Green Gold” has even caught the attention of the main Mexican drug cartels, which according to the local press – which has also echoed in Portugal in Visão magazine and the Público and Expresso newspapers – control the region of Michoacán, where concentrates most of the plantations and trade of the avocado, whose annual profit is estimated at 145 million euros. The war for the millions is generating a climate of terror provoked by violent crime, but the other side of the coin is still the intense deforestation of the forests to make new plantations of avocado trees, putting at risk the environment. To produce one kilo of avocado it takes about 242 liters of water, leading many regions to have drought problems, in addition to the contamination of water by agricultural chemicals that are released to protect and increase the efficiency of avocado production.
For example, in Chile, the third largest avocado producer in the world, there are reports in the local and international press of small farmers and many other citizens, such as in the Cabildo region, who demand clean drinking water for themselves and their orchards because the estates of avocados steal from them all the water. In Petorca, in the Chilean region of Valparaíso, many avocado plantations make illegal water holes to irrigate their plantations, which according to the population, quoted by the British newspaper “The Guardian”, causes the flow of rivers and to levels considered to be drought. Residents even have to be supplied with water by tanker trucks, according to the same British newspaper.
Faced with this harsh reality, when consuming avocado, balance all the pros and cons of feeding this avocado-mania.