Avocado farming is causing deforestation in Mexico

Perfectly sliced, mashed with smoked salmon, or blended into a breakfast juice, avocados have become a popular accompaniment in our diets. Packed with the good kind of fats, amid the healthy eating boom, our consumption of the green berry has skyrocketed. On Instagram, #avocado has been used over five million times.

Avocados originate in Mexico, where it has taken over agriculture as the cultivation of trees brings in larger profits. Prices have shot further up this summer, and its rising value on the market is attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Deforestation is happening in Mexico in order to cash in on the worldwide appetite for them. In the western state of Michoacan, the world’s top avocado producer, thousands of acres of forest is converted to agricultural use each year.

Pine trees which don’t require pesticides to grow and absorb carbon are being swapped with avocado trees. An orchard of avocados are almost twice as thirsty as a forest, therefore less water is reaching streams for animals and other plants to drink from.

Avo trees take half a decade to bear fruits. They can be planted amongst forests, for the pine trees to be cut down at a later date. Mario Tapia Vargas, a researcher at Mexico’s National Institute for Forestry, Farming and Fisheries Research, told the Associated Press: “Even where they aren’t visibly cutting down forest, there are avocados growing underneath, and sooner or later they’ll cut down the pines completely.”

Drug cartels are also cashing in on the high-margin crop, extorting money from the farmers, as Vocativ reports. Not only does buying avocados fuel a business which cuts down trees to feed demand, it puts money in the pockets of criminal gangs.

Although avocados are nutritious, eating them more than a few times a month is not part of a balanced diet. It’s time to find an alternative for the vitamins you are seeking and leave fashionable foods behind.

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