They seem to have it all.
Avocados may be America’s newest favorite fruit (yes, they’re fruits!), praised for their “good” (unsaturated) fats, nutrient density, delicious mild flavor, and culinary versatility. Only 30 years ago, we as a country ate an average of only a pound and a half of avocado yearly – Californians skewing that number much higher. That’s because of the avocados grown within U.S. borders, 90% are grown in California, by the toil of a scattering of farmers and thousands of dedicated farmworkers. The number of those workers has climbed over the years to accommodate our hunger for the green stuff: today the average American eats about seven pounds of avocado per year.
Still, the number of Californian avocado workers hasn’t skyrocketed accordingly, considering how greatly we’ve multiplied our avocado consumption. If the fruits aren’t being produced in the United States, where are they coming from?
Most of them come straight from their home turf: Mexico. In fact, the seven-fold increase in avocados purchased in the U.S. since 1980 is entirely due to imports: the vast majority from our Southern neighbor. The state of Michoacán, Mexico in particular produces the bulk of the world’s avocado.
If you’re part of the fan club, you probably noticed that this year avocado prices have risen steeply. 2017 has seen record-breaking highs in price, peaking at an average of $1.57 for a single Hass avocado in September. Demand is higher than ever, but unfortunately supply has been lower. After 5 years of drought conditions and an unseasonably hot summer, Californian avocado farms are seeing drastically reduced yields. For farmworkers in the U.S., this is a big danger to daily livelihood and job security.
Migrant workers make up the bulk of the avocado labor force, bearing long hours in the sunny western climate to bring you your Superbowl guacamole.
Check that avocado you pulled off the shelf.
Is it a Bacon? Hass? Fuerte? Pinkerton?
How much does it cost? 78 cents? $1.30? $2.99?
And don’t forget … where did it come from? California? Peru? Mexico?
Especially in light of ongoing and devastating fires affecting avocado farms in Southern California, we consumers must be smart about where we choose to put our produce dollars.
Supporting U.S. grown avocados will help keep the delicate balance of agriculture costs on our farms, and maintain farmworkers – both the U.S.-and majority foreign-born – through a potentially crippled late-winter harvest. AFOP Health & Safety is here daily supporting the health and safety of California avocado workers through tough times; a big thanks to those who bring us our favorite green fruit.