17 March, 2019

7 Facts You Didn't Know About Avocados

Avocado Illustration
by Naledi Sekgapane, Operations Assistant, Fairtrade America

Holy guacamole! Thought you knew everything there is to know about avocados? Think again!

There are plenty of reasons to love the oval-shaped fruit (yes, you read that right, avocados are actually a single-seeded berry). But there’s more to avocados than meets the eye!

Ripe with possibility, the culinary uses for avocados are endless, making it the perfect addition to any recipe. Besides being absolutely delicious, here are our top 7 facts about avocados pulled from Gastropod's fantastic podcast. Let’s avo-look!

  1. It’s native to Mexico and Central America - It’s not completely certain when and where the avocado was domesticated, in fact it might have happened more than once. In fact, archaeologists found the Caral civilization of Peru ate domesticated avocados more than 3000 years ago!
  2. The word avocado comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word “ahuácatl” meaning testicle - Other than the fact these fruits hung low, and usually in groups of two, the Aztecs attributed its name to the avocado's shape. Interesting.
  3. It’s not just an avocado. It’s a lifestyle - Spanish conquistador Fernández de Oviedo also fell victim to the avocado hype very early on writing “in the center of the fruit is a seed like a peeled chestnut, and between this and the rind is the part which is eaten, which is abundant, and a paste similar to butter and of very good taste”. The conquistadors also attributed health benefits to the fruit.
  4. In flowering plant terms, the avocado is OLD - A member of the laurel family, avocados are pretty ancient. Imagine a time when giant sloths and other megafauna dispersed and fertilized avocados. Unfortunately, the giant ground sloths went extinct about 13,000 years ago, but the avocado still lives on our Instagram feeds.
  5. NAFTA led to the avocado's world domination - Since 1914, the United States had banned Mexican avocados because of fears of an insect infestation and cheaper competition. The year 1994, however, was a game changer – Mexico, Canada and the United States enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement with the US soon lifting its ban, marking the avocado explosion that followed.
  6. Michoacan avocados are known as oro verde, meaning green gold - Avocado profits in the last 20 years have grown exponentially! Sparking a long-running battle between local farmers and Mexico's drug cartels. In addition to reports of avocado consumption indirectly fueling illegal deforestation in Mexico, there are also reports of drug cartels controlling the avocado supply.
  7. You can look for Fairtrade certified avocados for your next treat! - When you buy Fairtrade avocados, it means producers are paid at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price (if not more) and earn the extra Fairtrade Premium, which they can invest in their communities and improve the ecosystem through reforestation and prevent water contamination.

Thanks to Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley who put together "Ripe for Global Domination: The Story of the Avocado."

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