Theater of Cruelty

Healthy fat to great harm

The very popular avocado is associated with core values. Is it really as good as its reputation?


Avocado is more than food, it is super food. The green fruit is experiencing a boom that is only growing. It is mild and good, healthy, vegan and disease-preventing. It's a lifestyle. Thus, it is very annoying that it also has a miserable ecological footprint.

Each year around 40 millions of avocados are sold from Norwegian stores. No other country in Europe eats more avocado per capita than Norway, the store chain KIWI proudly states on its website. Avocado is aligned with fashionable products such as chia seeds, quinoa, goji and acai berries. Good for both cardiovascular disease, cancer and wrinkles, and great for everything from concentration ability to sperm quality and immune system. It says. The most attractive attribute of the avocado is perhaps the very thing følelsen it awakens – of carefree well-being. Here a piece of originality lands on the plate of industrial society. No animals have suffered. The approximately 400 grams of heavy fruit is apparently innocent as a lettuce leaf.

No other European country eats more avocado per capita than Norway.

No harm in the animal kingdom? A potential stumbling block for this glamor picture lies in Mexico, the country that is one of the largest avocado exporters. In Apútzio de Juarez, an area of ​​the state of Michoacán, more and more people are concerned about clearing space for avocado cultivation. Here, a resident can sell an acre of land to an avocado farmer for a larger sum than this seller normally earns in a year. The problem is that Apútzio lies on the edge of a biosphere dedicated to protecting the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Removal of native vegetation, which is vital habitat for this species, is a major reason for its now endangered species. Therefore, Mexico's WWF director notes that deforestation must stop altogether if the winter quarters of these rare long-distance acrobats are to be rescued. The monarch weighs only one ounce and flies up to 4000 kilometers to get to hot areas for wintering. In other words, it is a tough race, not least when avocado production is increasing dramatically everywhere and eating into the butterflies' territory.

Demanding plant. The life cycle of the avocado is complicated. It is an extremely energy and labor-intensive fruit that needs attention, intelligence and capital. In the province of Limpopo in South Africa is one of the largest suppliers of avocados to Europe, Farm ZZ2. The avocado plants start here almost like fetuses, in a dark room. A gardener sneaks around with a flashlight and carefully selects the roots that are ready for the next step. In another room with gentle green light, he smears hormones on the plants with q-tips. Furthermore, the trip goes to the greenhouse, after the gardener has been disinfected. No newborn avocado should be infected by him.

Once in the greenhouse, the little one is transplanted into a fruit tree, and then carefully bonded to avoid scary scars. When the plant is finally ready to be put into soil, the soil must be cleaned of stone. An avocado toddler is as sensitive as the princess on the pea. It is also sensitive to light, which is why the trunk is painted. The avocado tree needs a sun factor. But then it is also ready to be out with the others – in neat rows, so that the automatic irrigation system works, which is controlled from a tablet.

Business for the rich. The avocado industry is a high-tech issue, far from the local sustainable agriculture we otherwise praise. The reason why so much avocado can be exported to Europe is the way South African agriculture is run. Increasing numbers of farms, which are growing in size, are mostly owned by white Africans. The owners can invest, research, develop. As a result, several small businesses are falling apart, and these are often run by black South Africans. Add to this the problem of water shortages.

The avocado is an extremely energy and labor consuming fruit.

Many people in South Africa lack water as the government fails to do for its people what it owns «the ZZ2 Afrokado system» makes for his green taxes: He has laid a 30-kilometer pipeline that transports water to the property. He does this because his plants are extremely thirsty. While a kilo of tomatoes can handle about 180 liters of water, just as much avocado consumes 1000 liters. So a thousand liters for two and a half avocados. And that's before the journey to our store shelves at all has begun.

Travel on luxury class. A ZZ2 avocado starts the journey south by truck to Durban, on the east coast, just under 1000 kilometers. There it is loaded into a ship carrying it to Rotterdam. It takes 26 days. Throughout the journey, the fruit lies in power-driven containers with a constant temperature of six degrees. The humidity and CO2 concentration are also constantly monitored. So there is a lot of energy going on this trip. In addition, the avocado is sensitive to odor, must be perfectly clean, can not withstand grease and oil, and shock must be avoided. Thus, this breed cat raises a well-padded fruit, which further increases the negative ecological balance.

This imbalance takes on global dimensions when we consider the following: In Mexico, approximately 4000 hectares of forest are illegally cleared each year to make room for avocado plantations. 80 per cent of the scarce drinking water flows into agriculture. In dry Israel, avocado alone consumes half the water. We end with an absurd calculus, where Mother Earth gives off more energy than she has available in the long run. And this to a fruit that far and wide enjoys feelgoodstamp.

Worn by its reputation. The healthy image of the avocado got legs going in the early 2000s, when the concept of food fat was re-evaluated. After having long believed that the one who wanted to be slim and healthy had to avoid all kinds of fat, you were now told that it was the carbohydrate that was the culprit. Concepts like "unsaturated fatty acids" became commonplace. The light products lost prestige and thus space in the food cabinet. Everything was in place for a pear-shaped immigrant with fat content at the level of cream cream to begin his stellar career in Norwegian cuisine. Help on the road was given it by a Dutch company near Rotterdam, by name Nature's Pride.

Two and a half avocados require 1000 liters of water.

As all avocado eaters know, the avocado has one small problem: It does not always mature as desired. This was found in Nature's Pride the solution of a so-called "ripening master", a maturation expert. When the avocados arrive in Rotterdam, they are rock hard. In the maturation chamber of the ripening expert, the fruits are subjected to a kind of wind machine which emits the gas ethylene. Six days the fruit is in the ripening chamber and the gases are soft. Then they go through several stages of testing and selection. Finally, a (usually Polish) works to sort and place the avocados in crates. He manages 52 avocados per minute over an eight-hour session.

Another worker has the job of sticking a label on the dark skin of the exotic superstar, who then commands us: "Eat me, I'm good!" We are many who obey the order. avocado er fight well. It fits in the modern kitchen, can be used for anything, makes us talk – and leaves our children and grandchildren with a sicker and more unjust world. Sometimes knowledge can be a real killer. Initially.

Ranveig Eckhoff
Ranveig Eckhoff
Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid.

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