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    Is it the end of avocados, the unsustainable Instagram star?

    Is it the end of avocados, the unsustainable Instagram star?

    Is it the end of avocados, the unsustainable Instagram star?
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)


    Though it speedily tots up likes on social media, avocados can take up to 13 years to bear fruit. It may need as much as 320 litres of water (albeit in drier regions) to grow just a single fruit. But it's still greener than the omnipresent egg.

    Nutritious, creamy, fancy and incredibly Instagrammable avocados found a mention by comedian Bo Burnham in his Netflix special. The highbrow fruit featured in the lyrics of Burnham’s hilarious song White Woman’s Instagram, that pokes fun at stereotypical white women stuff, which often includes “latte foam art,” “tiny pumpkins,” “random quote from Lord of the Rings,” “goat cheese salad” and “wine.”
    Coming back to our guacamole, oops, avocados, questions about their sustainability and environmental impact are now slowly taking shine off the fruit.
    Environmental impact of avocados
    Avocados are usually grown in tropical temperatures, with large growing areas, including Mexico, Central America, South America, India and others. A plant takes three to four years to mature and bear fruit, but if planted from a seed, an avocado tree would take 5- 13 years to bear fruit. Once the plant is mature, they bear fruit biannually i.e. every two years.
    The plant takes a significant quantity of water to grow. Researchers have estimated that avocado plants can take 283 litres of applied water (water apart from rains and natural precipitation) to grow just a kilo of the fruit. But the amount of water needed can vary drastically, depending on the amount of natural water present. In drier regions, one single avocado can take upwards of 320 litres of water.
    With growing centres of the fruit being Central and South America, the carbon footprint of the fruit is increased significantly as the fruit needs to be shipped to North America and Europe through supremely high-emission ships. It has been estimated that two small avocados have a CO2 footprint of 846.36 grams, nearly twice as much as two kilos of bananas. Import of the fruit also costs water, since the fruit is exported with water.
    Criminal cartels & thick skin 
    Avocado-growing has quickly become a flourishing industry, worth nearly $6 billion annually. With plenty of money to be earned through the harvest of avocados, land is often cleared out to make space for avocado cultivation. This is often done at the expense of staple food crops, a move that threatens local food stability and autonomy, while also increasing the price of food items at the local community.
    Avocado cultivation has also quickly become a lucrative trade for criminal cartels in areas of Mexico and Central-South America. Cartels extort money for avocado cultivars and force others to grow the fruit.
    The fruit also has a wastage issue. Its hard pit and skin are not easy to break down and the increasing tonnage of avocado waste signifies a potential problem down the line.
    Avocado vs egg
    Despite all its drawbacks, the health benefits of avocados ae undeniable. The carbon footprint of the fruit is far lesser than animal products like even the common egg, making it a viable protein source.
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