Holy Guacamole: America Worships The Avocado

Bee Wilson: “In the U.S., demand for avocados is now so frenzied that it threatens to outstrip supply. The average American consumes 7 pounds of avocado a year, up from 1 pound in 1974. By 2016, annual retail sales of avocados in the U.S. had reached $1.6 billion, according to the Hass Avocado Board. Many factors have contributed to the avocado’s runaway success. In the late 1990s, the U.S. government lifted an 83-year-old ban on avocado imports from Mexico. California growers had feared pest invasions—and competition—from Mexican fruit. The lifting of the ban created a year-round supply of reliably creamy Hass avocados.”

“Our avocado-love has also been driven by cultural changes, large and small: the popularity of tacos, the rise of the hipster cafe, the rehabilitation of fat as a health food. Meanwhile, a marketing push by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, starting in the early 1990s, convinced America that Super Bowl Sunday couldn’t be celebrated without guacamole. Last year, on that single Sunday, Americans ate an estimated 104 million pounds of avocado.”

“In the 1980s, at the height of low-fat orthodoxy, avocado was regarded as dangerously fattening, and the wholesale price plummeted to 10 cents a pound. In 1982, California avocado growers had so much of the fruit that they considered marketing it as a food for dogs … Avocado is one of the few modern foods that manages to straddle our ideas of both comfort and health. Some may mock the trendiness and expense of avocado toast: $9 for a piece of sourdough smeared with green fat! But as long as the current demand holds up, the rest of us will have our mouths too full of avocado to complain.”

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