I hate to be the one to break it to you, mate, but you know avocados, right? Yeah, well, they suck. They’re bland, oversoft like baby food, and one of the most bang-average fruits out there. I’m sorry that I had to be the bearer of bad news, but it was time that someone cut the bullshit.
I know that, being in my mid-twenties, making a statement like “avocados suck” or “Monzo is stupid” or “Harry Styles isn’t as avant-garde as you think” might seem blasphemous but it’s honestly fine to admit the truth every now and then. It’s actually quite refreshing. Your favourite Aussie-accented brunch place isn’t going to ban you for life if you start skipping on the green stuff. Hell, they might even thank you when you take into consideration the unsustainable food miles that the little fruit racks up and the fact that it takes 2,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of avocados. And if you think about it for a minute, what does an avocado actually taste like? If we're talking about the avocados we get here in the UK? Not much, I’ll tell you that.
Sure, an avocado's got a rich and creamy texture when perfectly ripe, but when it comes to the flavour department it always just tastes slightly… green. Almost chlorophyllic. It’s a subtle and not altogether unenjoyable flavour but it’s also nothing to write home about. At the risk of sounding like one of your killer Facebook statuses from 2007, the avocados you'll find at cafés and supermarkets in England are just “meh”. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that avocados have an incredibly short and volatile lifespan.
Speaking from personal experience, I know that most of the waxy grenades you’ll buy from the shop will be solid as a rock for a couple of days before secretly collapsing in on themselves when you’re not looking. In fact, I’m fully convinced that avocados are only ripe for approximately 30 minutes and that, once that brief window has passed, their insides immediately turn into a brown and unappetising mush. Some fruits and vegetables benefit from having such an ephemeral window of ripeness; it adds an intrigue and challenge in capturing the food at the right time. With avocados, though, it’s just a pain in the arse.
I’m not saying that avo toast is the reason that you and I can’t afford a mortgage, I just think that – for the most part – avocados are rarely worth the trouble. I'm also well aware that an avocado’s Ella's Kitchen softness can sometimes be its calling card. Avocado smoothies are actually quite nice and avos are also deft at being a plant-based fat substitute in vegan cakes. In some parts of India, the avocado is even referred to as "butter fruit" because of its sought-after creaminess. But, let’s be honest, we’d all still prefer real butter on our toast and in our cakes if given the choice, wouldn't we?
Guacamole is by far the tastiest means of consuming avocado. But that’s mainly because of all the salt and lime that you need to add to make it so next-level delicious. Even then, when it comes to dips, I’d rank guac below the lofty likes of taramasalata and hummus. Mexican cuisine, in particular, offers an excellent example of how to make the most of the alligator pear's positive traits; incorporating it into dishes like pozole as a thickener and even using the avocado's leaves as an anise-like spice. If I lived in Mexico, I'm sure I wouldn't think that avocados suck.
But I don't. I live in London, and it certainly doesn’t help the fruit's cause that the avocados we get in the UK are particularly underripe and soapy – a disservice to the ideal version of the fruit and one which I’d honestly rather do without. The good majority of the avocados that populate British supermarkets are flown in from the likes of Spain, Israel, South Africa, Peru and Chile and, when the end result is so often disappointing, I can’t help but feel that we should just leave the avocados to the countries that can grow them properly. Save your enjoyment of the stuff for when you’ve got access to local avocados that taste how they’re meant to, MOB. Because God knows we're getting through too much of them already.
Europe’s consumption of avocado currently stands at around 1kg per person per year. According to the data scientists at Stable, avocado consumption in Europe has grown five-fold since 2000, in spite of only a fraction of the production coming from within Europe. That’s a fairly staggering amount of avo being shipped to and fro. Although I’m sure you’re aware it’s not exactly a seasonal produce that you’ll find growing in your local allotment, there are larger issues going on with avocados when it comes to their global supply chain as well.
Some people even claim that the avocado has become one of the world’s newest conflict commodities (a bit like an edible blood diamond) due to the association of the growth and supply of the crop with modern slavery, murder child labour, and environmental degradation. Those people aren't wrong.
Mexico is the world’s biggest producer of avocados and just one of the issues with avocado farming there – along with illegal deforestation – is the involvement of the cartel in the dissemination of the fruit and how criminal groups often coerce pickers into temporary forced labour. A disproportionately large demand for the fruit globally has also called for forests with diverse wildlife to be destroyed in order to produce more avocado for non-Mexican consumers.
None of that is cool. And it’s certainly not worth it when that avocado is being patted onto chewy sourdough, dolloped with a sad quenelle of poached egg, and priced at £14. Avocados just aren’t the one, MOB. Sorry.