You need to stop eating avocados. Right now. Yes, we know that we’re asking for a lot. Like this is probably the most effort you’ll ever put into any diet. But the environmental impact is huge. According to the Associated Press, rising demand for avocados—followed by higher fetching prices—is fueling Mexican farmers to expand and destroy much of the country’s pine forests.
Because avocado trees flourish in the same places as pine and fir trees, many avocado producers are dodging authorities and thinning out forests to make room for larger avocado orchards. All this to keep up with the American appetite for the creamy green fruit.
“Even where they aren’t visibly cutting down forest, there are avocados growing underneath (the pine boughs), and sooner or later they’ll cut down the pines completely,” Mario Tapia Vargas, a researcher at Mexico’s National Institute for Forestry, Farming, and Fisheries Research, told the news service.
This is mostly due to the high demand and top dollar farmers can receive for their harvest. AP reports that price tags on avocados leapt from about 86 cents each in January to around $1.10 in July. What’s more, the peso lost 16 percent of its value against the dollar this year, making the Mexican avocado cheaper for—and therefore more preferable to—U.S. customers. This magic formula has made avocados by far the best profit-earning crop for Mexican farmers. So there’s much motivation to keep chopping down the pines.
So what can you do about it? The next time you’re hankering for some avocado toast, think about picking up a few that were grown in California. You might have to pay a bit more for them, but you also won’t be contributing to environmental destruction. Or you could always switch to sweet potato toast instead.