Green Gold: How Avocados Play a Part in Health and Wealth
Avocados haven’t always been popular in the United States. In the early 20th century, they were called “alligator pears” because of their rough skin and pear shape. With that unfortunate nickname, it’s clear why they weren’t very marketable.
Because of this, the California Avocado Grower’s Exchange petitioned for it to be renamed avocado. This fruit’s current name came from the Aztec word “ahuacatl.” It has long been a prized fruit grown by Aztecs in Mexico. Now, the production of this fruit is a major economic driver in Mexico.
Mexican Green Gold
Rebranding and marketing blew up avocado’s popularity among American consumers. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a report saying that Americans consume 7 pounds of avocado in a year. Ramon Paz Vega of the Association of Producers and Packers Exporters of Avocado in Mexico (APEAM) added that eighty percent of avocados consumed in the United States are from Mexico.
Because of the spike in demand, production of avocados in Mexico skyrocketed. The state of Michoacán is where avocado production is concentrated. The state produces 80 percent of avocados exported from Mexico. In 2017, this resulted in $647.3 million in export sales.
Healthy Food Craze
One of the main reasons avocados grew popular in the U.S. is because of the fruit’s health benefits. In the 80s, avocado growers funded various research programs to promote avocado’s healthy qualities. Included in these qualities are the fruit’s significant levels of monounsaturated fats or “good fats,” fiber, and potassium. Studies have also shown how eating avocados can markedly reduce cholesterol levels.
This is why in many US states, like California, Texas, and Virginia, Mexican food is in the top five favorites. Avocado is a staple in Mexican cuisine, the most popular variation of which is guacamole.
Behind avocado’s rough exterior lies a rich history. It’s a bit unbelievable how this once looked-down-upon fruit is now a major driver of economic income in one country and a key player in the healthy food craze in another.