... And the ever-increasing number of people following a ketogenic diet.
Intensive farming was addressed in many previous articles and it seems that heathy eating is pushing the sale of foods such as avocados, berries, and antioxidant-rich fruits.
Avocados, for example, can be found in the kitchen of many healthy eaters at any time. The ketogenic diet has also exploded the consumption of avocados
While I also recommend to eat avocado as often as possible, I am now concerned about non-organic avocado farming. Avocado is part of the "clean 15" but now i am not so sure.
Water was analysed, taken from streams around expanding avocado plantations near the rural village of Barão de São Joã .in western Algarve.
Test results have shown glyphosate (Monsanto-owned RoundUP) pesticide readings 50 times greater than levels recommended by the EU.
This is extremely concerning. Portugal, as many of the Mediterranean basin countries, is encountering higher temperature and very little rain, summer after summer, and water is now becoming a national problem.
Avocado plantation diverts thousand of cubic metres each day. One plant may need 6o litres of water per day. A large avocado may require as much as 320 litres. In Chile, were most the avocados are grown, it may take over to a cubic metre to grow 1 kilo of avocado. in Petorca (where 60% of the chilean production of avocado is grown), a region where it never rains.
560 000 litres per hectare for one month is very often what a plantation requires, where rain falls (considering the evaporation of water compared to rainfall is the biggest factor of water requriements).
UK demand for avocado increased by 27% in 2017 with more than 17,000 tonnes of avocados imported to the UK from Chile, prompting accusations that growers are illegally diverting rivers and leaving locals without water. The demand is sure to have increased even more. Domestic consumption of avocados in the United States reached over 1 million tonnes (2.45 billion pounds) in 2018.
Consumption in the EU in 2018 surpassed 650,000 metric tonnes, and in 2019, imports were expected to exceed 750,000 metric tonnes, according to figures from Eurofruit.
In 2011, Chile’s water authority, the Dirección General de Aguas, published an investigation conducted by satellite that showed at least 65 illegal underground channels bringing water from the rivers to the private plantations, explains the Guardian Newspaper.
Irrigation is a necessity for avocado plantation, since avocado trees have a relatively shallow root system, with up to 80% of the moisture being obtained from the top 30cm of soil and trees are extremely sensitive to water. Any interruption can have huge consequences on yield and profitability.
Spain is experiencing similar problems, where production is also increasing 17% more in 2019, compared to 2018. Spain is Europe’s largest avocado producer, currently supplying 10 per cent of the EU’s avocados, with UK at the top of the importers.
For years, Spanish ecologists have warned that water-intensive farming of avocados, along the southern coast is pushing the area towards water collapse. Despite this issue, the Spanish government may be prepared to divert water from the Rules Dam in the nearby Sierra Nevada using taxpayer money.
“Wells and rivers around Barão are drying up. This has never happened before.
“For a second time water samples taken from one of the plantations have shown alarmingly high glyphosate levels. 50 times beyond the recommended EU guidelines now!
“We have to try and force the operators of these plantations to initiate environmental reports. They must stop poisoning our soil and water – and then there is the serious issue of water consumption. Avocado trees can require over 60 litres of water per day. This area now has over 50,000 trees planted! It’s beyond ridiculous: the implications are terrifying,” said campaigners from the Terra Saudável group.
There is also a golf course next to the village, also participating in an environmental disaster, with lush green grass, a pesticides and herbicides heaven.
Avocado plantations are also responsible for changing and damaging the environment in Portugal. Where once hundreds of acres of olive trees and other magnificent trees stood proud, requiring very little water, have now been destroyed and replaced by water-guzzling monocultures, including avocado plantations.
"Driven by high demand and profitability, many farmers have ceased growing traditional rain-fed crops, like olives and almonds, and switched to avocado cultivation, says Javier Egea of Ecologists in Action, a confederation of Spanish environmental groups.
Two thousand litres of water are needed to produce just one kilo of avocados – four times the amount needed to produce a kilo of oranges, and 10 times what is needed to produce a kilo of tomatoes, according to the Water Footprint Network.
Having tonnes of unripe avocados flooding the baskets of supermarkets, very often wrapped in plastic.
Perhaps the production and distribution of avocados should be completely rethought.
The earlier the better.
In addition, 2,000 small avocado farms have disappeared since 2007, which cannot compete with large-scale plantations that are at the heart of the problem. Requiring extreme quantities of water and drying up rivers, so that nothing is left for local communities.
This is also observed in Mexico, the biggest exporter of avocado in the world.
About 90 % of all avocado production in Mexico is from the state of Michoacán, which is more or less under the influence of drug cartels. This is such a problem that the army is now protecting farmers from cartels.
Large-scale avocado plantations are also responsible for deforestation.
Mario Tapia Vargas, a researcher at Mexico’s National Institute for Forestry, Farming and Fisheries Research, told the Associated Press: “Even where they [the farmers] 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.”
The impact on wildlife is dear but also for people as Greenpeace warns: "Beyond the displacement of forests and the effects on water retention, the high use of agricultural chemicals and the large volumes of wood needed to pack and ship avocados are other factors that could have negative effects on the area’s environment and the wellbeing of its inhabitants,”
Between 2001 and 2010, avocado production in Michoacán tripled and exports rose tenfold, according to a report published in 2012 by Tapia Vargas’s institute. The report suggested the expansion caused loss of forest land of about 690 hectares (1,700 acres) a year between 2000 and 2010.
This is such a huge problem that it is making headlines:
The TV presenter Piers Morgan told a vegan person on the Good Morning Britain Show to stop eating avocados if “you guys really care about the environment”.
What are your solutions?
Should we stop eating avocado?
Should be source avocado from 'trusted' countries only?
Would that not repeat the same problem?
Registered Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Iridologist, Lecturer, NLP practitioner and Personal Performance Coach.