SEÁN MON­CRIEFF

The se­cret in­gre­di­ent in the av­o­cado is mar­ket­ing. I refuse to eat them

The Irish Times Magazine - - INDEX -

My name is Sean, and I’ve never eaten an av­o­cado. Deal with it. It was mainly due to in­dif­fer­ence, but this turned into re­sis­tance when the av­o­cado be­came a thing a few years back. I am in­stinc­tively re­sis­tant to things, though I do strive not to be all cranky- old- man in the face of change. For in­stance, I have con­sid­ered get­ting a tat­too, though I keep fail­ing to de­cide on a word or pic­ture with which to per­ma­nently mark my body. I once came up with the highly clever ( I thought) idea to just get a tat­too of the word ‘ tat­too’. But ev­ery­one I told about this in­formed me that it was stupid and that I’m an­noy­ing. I get that a lot.

Any­way, the av­o­cado: it be­came a thing as part of the greater and largely non­sen­si­cal “su­per­foods” fad. Here’s the thing about “su­per­foods”: eat your greens and fruit, ex­er­cise a bit, and you’ll be grand. There’s no short­cut around that. Kale and chia seeds and goji berries are no bet­ter for you than an ap­ple or a car­rot.

This is also true for the av­o­cado – par­tic­u­larly so in this case as the av­o­cado is quite fat­ten­ing. A medium- sized one con­tains about 250 calo­ries. That’s con­sid­er­ably more than a Crunchie. And a Crunchie ac­tu­ally tastes of some­thing.

The se­cret in­gre­di­ent in the av­o­cado is mar­ket­ing. That was added some years ago in Cal­i­for­nia. In a des­per­ate bid to make it sexy ( it was orig­i­nally known as the al­li­ga­tor pear), grow­ers in Cal­i­for­nia hired the PR firm Hill & Knowl­ton to change the per­cep­tion of the fruit, which they did through the cre­ation of an av­o­cado- based char­ac­ter called Mr Ripe Guy and by ad­ver­tis­ing it around the Su­per Bowl.

That helped, but it was the ad­vent of diet virtue- sig­nalling on In­sta­gram that earned the av­o­cado its hip­ster cre­den­tials, with countless In­sta­gram­mers tak­ing pic­tures of their break­fasts and par­rot­ing all the bo­gus health claims.

What they never men­tion is that the av­o­cado is dan­ger­ous. It puts peo­ple in hos­pi­tal. Ap­par­ently ex­tract­ing the stone can be a tricky busi­ness and ev­ery year peo­ple end up in A& E hav­ing sliced through their hand rather than the fruit, some­times giv­ing them­selves se­ri­ous nerve and ten­don in­juries. There are no fig­ures on how se­vere this prob­lem is, but the British As­so­ci­a­tion of Plas­tic, Re­con­struc­tive and Aes­thetic Sur­geons did call for a warn­ing la­bel to be put on av­o­ca­dos, while at St Thomas’s Hos­pi­tal in Lon­don, staff have re­ported a “post- brunch surge” on Satur­days, with wounded hip­sters stag­ger­ing in their doors.

How­ever, what’s most egre­gious about the av­o­cado- in­dus­trial com­plex is the way it has de­vel­oped a healthy, tree- hug­ging im­age. It’s any­thing but. Av­o­ca­dos in Ire­land gen­er­ally come from thou­sands of miles away – from Peru and Mex­ico, where grow­ing them puts a mas­sive strain on the en­vi­ron­ment. Each av­o­cado re­quires a bath­tub of wa­ter. And be­cause of the greedy de­mand in the west, the fruit in now un­af­ford­able to many of the peo­ple who pro­duce it. A kilo of av­o­ca­dos costs the daily min­i­mum wage in Mex­ico.

‘‘

A medium- sized av­o­cado con­tains about 250 calo­ries. That’s con­sid­er­ably more than a Crunchie. And a Crunchie ac­tu­ally tastes of some­thing

Ear­lier this year Aus­tralia an­nounced a short­age and Kenya banned ex­port­ing them al­to­gether: pres­sure that is in turn driv­ing up the price. Mex­ico now makes more money from ex­port­ing av­o­ca­dos than it does from ex­port­ing pe­tro­leum – which has at­tracted at­ten­tion from one of Mex­ico’s other main ex­porters, the drug car­tels.

In the state of Mi­choacán, which pro­duces 92 per cent of Mex­ico’s av­o­ca­dos, the car­tels are seiz­ing con­trol of the in­dus­try through the use of the proven busi­ness tech­nique of shoot­ing you if you say no.

Rather than be­ing the sub­ject of a zil­lion soft- fo­cus self­ies, the av­o­cado should be con­demned for what it is: an en­vi­ron­ment- de­stroy­ing, mur­der- pro­mot­ing, fat- in­duc­ing barely- fruit. That doesn’t taste of any­thing much un­less you lace it with salt. Or so I’m told.

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