START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

The Horrifying Truth About Avocados

The Horrifying Truth About Avocados

Avocados are a truly spectacular food. Packed full of good fats, carotenoids, folate, and yes, even cancer-fighting nutrients, some have argued that the avocado could be the world’s most perfect food. Just a single bite of this creamy, earthy fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) and you’ll find it difficult to argue with this superlative.

If it seems too good to be true, you might just be right. I recently learned that like diamonds, avocados have a dark and bloody side that almost no one knows about.

The avocado tree is native to Mexico and Central America, so it comes as no surprise that this region still produces most of the world’s supply. In Western Mexico, “avocado farms occupy vast stretches of land, and the rows of low-growing trees resemble the olive gardens of southern Europe,” writes Jan-Albert Hootsen for Vocativ.com. This idyllic setting indicates nothing of the sinister side of the avocado trade, however.

In Michoacán, a state in western Mexico, the avocado is commonly referred to as oro verde, green gold, because it yields more cash than any other crop—including marijuana. And anytime there’s money to be made, corruption isn’t far behind.

“A drug cartel known as the Caballeros Templarios, the Knights Templar, has infiltrated the avocado sector, and now controls the local trade, from production to distribution,” writes Hootsen. “The cartel derived from an earlier group of drug traffickers known as La Familia Michoacana…Not content to traffic marijuana, cocaine and heroin, La Familia set up a variety of extortion rackets in Michoacán. The avocado business was one of them.” Now, farmers must deal with constant extortion, and the reality that The Templarios could take over their plantations and packing plants whenever they want.

The cartel always gets what it wants, both from the avocado farmers and the government bodies that are supposed to regulate them. Through bribes and the threat of violence, Templarios have gained access to official lists of farmers, how much land they cultivate, and how much they produce. This way, the criminals know exactly how much money to demand from the farmers.

“Every link in the avocado production chain is a cash cow for the cartel, from the quadrilleros, or pickers (whose employment agencies are forced to pay $3.50 per worker per day), to those who buy, develop and sell plantations,” writes Hootsen. “The extortion racket is lucrative. In some municipalities, the estimated proceeds come to $3 million per year.”

The truly horrifying part is that unlike drugs and human trafficking (the other favorite pastimes of the cartel) we are all culpable. More than 80 percent of Michoacán’s avocados are exported to the United States. That means every time we crack open one of these precious green fruits, every time we dip a chip into a bowl of guacamole, we’re helping to fuel the cartel’s violent takeover of the avocado industry in Mexico.

The only way to avoid being part of this vicious cycle is to seek out domestically grown avocados, such as those from California, and to support farmers’ rights around the world.

Related:
Top 10 Reasons to Buy Organic
How to Keep Your Quinoa Consumption Ethical

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Food, News & Issues, , , , , , , , ,

Image via Thinkstock

quick poll

vote now!

Loading poll...

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog.

1457 comments

+ add your own
12:32PM PDT on May 24, 2015

Thanks. I will definitely checking thoroughly before purchasing.

9:00AM PDT on May 24, 2015

Rats.

9:40PM PDT on May 22, 2015

YuK

10:29PM PDT on May 19, 2015

thanks for exposing this Beth - fortunately, in South Africa, we do not have this situation -just LOVE avocado's !!!.....

2:21PM PDT on May 19, 2015

thankyou

10:16AM PDT on May 19, 2015

Shakes head.. greed is so evil!!

4:09AM PDT on May 18, 2015

Sucks What is still ok to eat?

7:23PM PDT on May 13, 2015

Thank you for info

6:44AM PDT on May 13, 2015

Thanks

1:36PM PDT on May 12, 2015

Thanks for the info. Will check more carefully when buying.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

D'accordo con Valentina R. ho avuto un greyhound in appartamento insieme a 5 gatti, posso dire per e…

Some interesting info.

CONTACT THE EDITORS



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.