Why you should think twice before eating avocados

Publish Date
Wednesday, 16 August 2017, 8:00AM
Photo / Getty Images

Photo / Getty Images

It's been solidly at the top of the food chain as the trendiest thing to eat but your avocado habit is actually hurting the environment and you should consider stopping it immediately.

High demand for avocados all over the world, well beyond Grey Lynn, has been responsible for the deforestation of entire regions of Mexico, where once lush forests have now disappeared to make room for yet another avocado orchard.

In the Mexican state of Michoacan, considered the world's avocado capital, there is hardly any forest left, as the state gets filled with avocado trees to meet demand.

According to a rural technology NGO Gira, deforestation in Mexico is growing at a pace of 2.5 per cent per year, to make room for avocado trees.

The country is responsible for about 40 per cent of the total avocados grown in the world and the orchards take up about 137,000ha of land in Micohacan alone.

As if deforestation wasn't enough to season some guilt into your smashed avo on toast, experts also say the chemicals used in avocado orchards are harming the locals.

Salvador Sales, a teacher in Jujucato, Mexico, told AFP that in the 15 years he's been in the area, he has witnessed more and more students developing breathing and stomach issues.

"We believe this is caused by the products used to spray the avocado orchards," he says.

The chemicals spill into the ground water, rivers and streams and are being blamed for increasing illnesses among the local population.

In one particular village, the population relies on water from Lake Zirahuen and there has been a rise in liver and kidney issues that did not exist until "the avocado orchards expanded and all types of pesticides were used", a local environmental expert, Alberto Gomez Tagle, told AFP.

Local drug gangs are also said to have moved into the avocado trade.

Considering that 1ha of avocado trees generates around US$5400 ($7404) a year, it's easy to understand why everyone wants in on the business. As a result, avocado orchards are being planted as high as 2600m above sea level, making them terribly unproductive.

The impact of Mexico in the avocado trade is so high that, when Mexican avocado packers went on strike for a few days recently, it caused prices to soar all over the world.

This article was first published on NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.