Avocados – Our guilty obsession – By Levi Richardson

Avocados, there’s no denying it. We, in the UK, are obsessed. From avocado on toast for breakfast, to salads and soups for lunch, your midday smoothie, a topping on your evening pizza, or even in deserts (check out Phoebe’s mouth-watering avocado doughnut recipe). They work wonders for our health too! (maybe not doughnuts).

But what’s the problem?

* Most avocados come from countries such as Mexico or Guatemala. Traditionally the local farmers grew corn but now they grow avocados – a cash crop, which is so lucrative for locals that drug gangs are getting involved, extorting, kidnapping and even murdering for the profits that this tree can generate. That doesn’t mean all avocados contribute to this, it’s just we can’t really tell which do and which don’t.

On top of this, there’s often significant deforestation linked to avocado production – 30-40% of Mexican deforestation is due to avocados! Including the clearing of pine forests, home to the famous monarch butterfly.

* Water! Avocados are so greedy for water that the expansion of illegal avocado farming is outcompeting local corn producers for water, with each avocado guzzling 320 litres! Avocados are literally sucking Chile dry. ‘’Here there are more avocados than people, but only people are lacking water, never the avocados,” – Veronica Vilches an activist tells The Guardian.

* Then there is the issue of food miles! Avocados travel on average 4500 miles to your plate, flying mostly from Mexico and Chile. This has enormous greenhouse gas emissions. Which means a high carbon footprint that in turn contributes significantly to climate change. Consuming just 2 or 3 avocados a week for a year emits the same greenhouse gas as heating a home for a week, from avocados alone!

Now don’t get me wrong, the emissions and water usage are still less than a meat dish, but as we move towards a more environmentally conscious diet, we should consider the worst offending plants too!

Whilst you could altogether give up the tasty fruit, do not despair, here are some less guilty methods of acquiring that health boosting wonder food. This will also help us meet the sustainable development goals of climate action and responsible consumption and production.

More sustainable alternatives

  • Oddbox rescues damaged or oddly shaped avocados, otherwise disposed of by supermarkets.
  • Buy organic avocados from Spain – less food miles and better regulations, avoiding the risk of drug cartels in the supply chain!

The best solution? Grow your own!! Did you know several trees have been spotted around London? I will now give you the basics on how to grow your own. Watch out for a possible follow up blog as I embark on my own avocado growing journey!

# Warning – avocado’s take around 10 years before fruiting, unless you graft or get a special variety. In the meantime, they make a beautiful house plant!

Instead of your usual avocado, I recommend sourcing a more cold hardy variety such as these.

Method

So, you have your seed. Now you need a glass of water and 3 toothpicks (yes its odd).

  • Fill the glass of water 2/3 (change it every day) and stab the avocado with the three tooth picks a third of the way down from the pointed end (leave them in). Do this for 2 or 3 avocados and discard after 6 weeks if no roots have grown (at least 1 should work).
  • Partially submerge the avocado in the glass of water.
  • Optionally, peel the seed for a faster sprouting.
  • When the stem of the plant is 2 or 3 inches tall, you can pot your avocado plant.
  • Try using organic kelp based fertiliser such as this which contains zinc and nitrogen, vital nutrients to keep your plant healthy!
  • Keep in a window with lots of sunlight, and in summer months take outside, to bathe in the sun. Water 2 or 3 times a week.
  • Transplant to your garden after a year or two. Voila! Wait for the avocados. Information was sourced from this video.

After a year you could graft the plant which would shorten the time to fruit, but most plants don’t survive the stress. Here’s a very informative video on grafting avocado.

Find more useful tips here – https://metmunch.com/category/hints-and-tips/

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