Avocados recently did some serious climbing of the social ladder: they started out in guacamole and fancy salads, but then got in with the cool kids, paired with toast, and became a star of the breakfast table.
Just as it gained a whole crop of new fans, it appears that the future of the avocado may be in jeopardy. In case you haven’t heard, California is in a drought. It takes about 72 gallons of water to grow a pound of avocado. Problem? I think yes.
Avocado growers have been buying water at steep prices for a while, but now the issue isn’t even cost — its availability. In mid-June, Southern California experienced extreme heat on top of the years-long drought. For some, the heat just meant boozy popsicles and days at the beach, but for avocado plants, the heat can be much more tragic. The president of the California Avocado Commission visited the groves and witnessed the damage, describing sunburnt branches and withered leaves.
The avocado plants experienced temperatures reaching 117°F coupled with thirty miles per hour winds, but it can be some time before the effects are evident. Growers think the intense heat will have the largest impact on next year’s crop because it killed some of the flowers.
The avocado is just another in a string of foods that have skyrocketed to popularity and caused issues in the production region. It is reasonable to predict that, like quinoa, the demand for avocados will outpace production, forcing the price up to the point where they are no longer affordable for the average consumer, and certainly not for the farmers who grow them.
While I’m not urging you to give up on avocados altogether (who could imagine Super Bowl Sunday without guacamole?), I do encourage you to be mindful of your consumption. Try to purchase local and Fair-Trade Certified goods, and, if you have some time on your hands, invent a cheaper desalinization process.