Your avocado habit may be destroying forests and killing monarchs too

open avocado
CC BY 2.0 Jaanus Silla

Sometimes being a conscious consumer sucks.

Latest case in point: Apparently my avocado habit may be destroying forests in Mexico. As Harron Siddique over at The Guardian reports, rising demand for avocados has led to higher prices. And higher prices have led to higher profits for farmers. The result? Farmers in central Mexico have been clearing or thinning out pine forests to plant young avocado trees, degrading the natural habitat of the monarch butterfly and sucking up water that would otherwise go to the surrounding forests.

As if that wasn't enough, Siddique also reports that the trade is increasingly connected with violent drugs gangs, with farmers paying extortion money to criminal organizations as they also seek to evade authorities' attempts to curb illegal deforestation.

This isn't even the first time that our guacamole guzzling ways have been brought under the spotlight. Katherine reported back in 2014 on how avocado consumption was driving Chile's drought. But what to do about it? I have a hard time imagining that giving up avocados is somehow going to make the problem go away. Instead, supporting retailers' accountability efforts like Whole Foods' Responsibly Grown, buying Fair Trade organic avocados, and supporting organizations like Greenpeace who are fighting to draw attention to this problem are all ways that we can help shift the trade in the right direction.

That said, we could also spend some time reflecting on our superfood obsessed culinary culture. Next time a new "miracle food" gets touted in our food press (and green blogosphere!), maybe we try exercising a little moderation.

Tags: Deforestation | Mexico

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