Your Avocado Toast Habit Is Killing Butterflies, Says The Guardian

published Aug 18, 2016
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(Image credit: Quentin Bacon)

You knew it was coming: trouble in avocado-ville. The craze for avocados has caused avocado exports to jump tenfold in the last decade, according to a piece in The Guardian that has the avocado-lovers of the internet in a tizzy. Higher prices mean greater incentive for growers in parts of Mexico, and they are intensifying avocado farming in ways that thin native forests and reduce habitat for the monarch butterfly.

So should we all immediately swear off avocados and pay penance to the butterflies? It’s not so simple.

The positive side to this story that is rather less focused-upon is that this does mean greater prosperity for the farmers; The Guardian reports that:

Farmers can make as much as $500,000 (£383,000) annually from the plot. Avocado prices jumped from about 86 cents in January to about $1.10 in July, partly because of weak seasonal supply from Mexico.

These economic benefits are offset by the greater strain on water supply and native habitats. But is it a simple equation? Quit eating avocados? Another perspective at Current Affairs takes that simplistic reaction to task:

… the “eating avocados hurts Mexico” story is far too simple. Diminishing water supply is a chronic global consequence of climate change, and factory farms are far more environmentally costly than the avocado industry. As one commenter put it, “How about we keep our avocado trees and plant some more, but stop destroying the environment for bullshit reasons like building malls, resorts and printing useless stuff?” Climate change and environmental destruction are not happening because hipsters like avocados. Nor can they be fixed by hipsters feeling guilty about eating avocados.

So there.

But OK, you are still feeling a bit guilty (I mean, the butterflies). Maybe that overripe avocado you threw out last week is weighing heavily on your conscience.

What’s an avocado-lover to do? We have some thoughts. First, seek out domestically grown avocados, such as those grown in California and Florida. This may mean adventuring past the well-known Hass avocado and trying out some

new varieties

Also look out for those big Florida avocados (here are some tips on making the most of them).

But new avocado adventures notwithstanding, we took this news as a sobering reminder that every fad does have a corresponding effect. We’re not giving up avocados any time soon, but we’re going to be a little more careful how and where we buy them, and to treasure each creamy bite to make sure that gorgeous fruit doesn’t go to waste.

An avocado no-waste tip: Don’t forget to stash those almost-too-ripe avocados in the refrigerator to keep them delicious.