High avocado prices and shortages are hitting the U.S. In Mexico, the avocado is called oro verde, green gold, because it yields more cash than any other crop, including marijuana. In the U.S., the avocado has never been more popular, with consumption per person at 6.1 pounds in 2014, more than triple the figure from 2000. The U.S. leans on Mexico for its avocados. Mexico’s field workers and drug cartels influence avocado prices and production. In early November, these factors converged to produce avocado shortages in the U.S. and record avocado prices that have tipped stock market charts at $64 a share, up from $15 earlier in the year.
Avocado Prices Soar
Micah Jenkins of Three Carrots (vegan) restaurant in Indianapolis said that before the current shortage, a “decent price” was $30 to $45 per case of avocados. With the shortage, the price of avocados, which are pollinated by bees, is as high as $86.
“It was a $40 increase,” says Jenkins. Three Carrots has four avocado-rich dishes and an avocado salad dressing. The price increase has forced the restaurant to raise the price of its Avocado Toast from $5 to $6.50 and to remove the extra avocados they placed on sandwiches and salads.
Jenkins does not know why the shortage is happening — and to be honest, neither do most Americans. Officially, the shortage (and subsequent avocado prices) is due to a strike by avocado pickers. But the unofficial rumor is that, it’s a drug cartel battling for control of the Mexican avocado industry. The truth is likely a lot of each.
A Few More Issues To Battle Against High Avocado Prices
Then there’s U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump who has vowed to do away with trade agreements in Mexico and Central America. How this plays out is anyone’s guess, but it’s shaping up to be a bad time in history for guac lovers.
Unless you’re very, very rich.
Organic Avocados Growing
Mexico is estimated to have more than 110,000 organic farms, more than any other country, according to PCCNaturalMarkets.com. The number is growing; Mexico’s certified organic acreage increases by 32 percent per year. While organic avocados account only for an estimated 4 or 5 percent, according to Produce News, Mexican farmers realize that there is a market, and are responding accordingly.
According to PCCNaturalMarkets.com, for a food to be sold as organic in the U.S., it must meet certain United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program, regardless of country of origin. WhatsOnMyFood.org reports that the most common–indeed, the only–pesticide residue found in conventionally farmed avocados is Imiprothrin, and it’s found in 1.1 percent of the crop. The Environmental Workinng Group, however, lists avocados as first on their “Clean 15” list–meaning it’s the least likely to hold pesticide residue.
Nutritional Benefits of Avocado Include Good Fat
MedicalNewsToday.com notes that avocados are the only fruit that provides a healthy dose of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Avocados contain almost 20 vitamins and minerals. They are good at fighting LDL (bad) cholesterol and good for vision. MedicalNewsToday.com reads “Half of an avocado provides approximately 25 percent of the daily-recommended intake for vitamin K, a nutrient that is often overlooked, but which is essential for bone health. Vitamin K is often overshadowed by calcium and vitamin D when thinking of nutrients important for maintaining healthy bones, however, eating a diet with adequate vitamin K can support bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.”
Avocados also lower the risk of cancer, help prevent birth defects, lower the risk of depression, are an excellent way to detoxify, improve digestion,, and provide a way to fight chronic disease.
“According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one serving (one-fifth of an avocado, approximately 40 grams) contains 64 calories, almost 6 grams of fat, 3.4 grams of carbohydrate, less than a gram of sugar, almost 3 grams of fiber and almost 1 gram of protein,” MedicalNewsToday.com reports. “Avocados are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids.”
So it’s good for you–the question is just how much are we willing to pay for a superfood?