Everyone loves avocado toast! A nutritious wheat bread topped with a spread of avocado and a pinch of salt or sesame seeds is a wonderful treat any day. But, ten, five, or even three years ago, nobody was eating this delectable snack at the rate they do now. Fads and trends in food, much like in fashion, affect the supply chain and sustainability of the ingredients. So, how have avocados changed production, consumption, and the environment during their rapid rise to the top of the food chain?
People have been falling in love with avocados for centuries. It was a staple in many South and Central American diets prior to the Spanish invasion. Spanish conquistadors were subsequently smitten after their first taste in the 16th century. The avocado made its way to the United States through Florida at the beginning of the 20th century. It was first called “avocado” in 1915, and the Hass avocado was patented in 1935. In the last 15 years, the demand for avocados in the United States has grown every single year. By 2014, we were consuming 4 million avocados a year (4X the consumption in the year 2000).
It seems like avocados are here to stay on our plates, but they are more than just a tasty treat. Avocados can be used in natural dyes for your fashion and fabrics. There is a Venezuelan designer who creates her own dyes with avocado seeds. She focuses on natural dyes to be more sustainable in her production and reduce her environmental impact. She doesn't only use avocados but also onions, tree bark, and plants.
While avocado-based fashion is environmentally friendly, is this always the case for the fruit? Avocado production is water-intensive: it takes 272 gallons of water to produce 3 avocados. This water consumption affects high-production locations like California and Mexico, where most avocados are grown. These lands are also being cleared and reconfigured to make room for the avocados despite preexisting vulnerabilities to drought and inopportune conditions.
Eating avocados may remain fashionable, but there are clear environmental impacts, both positive and negative associated with their consumption. People have been happily eating avocados for centuries but increased demand is tough on the environment and water sources. That being said, avocados and other natural dyes are a more sustainable and environmentally responsible alternative to synthetic dyes. Even though your avocados are trendy in fashion and on your plate, be sure to consider how consumption impacts the environment around you.