It’s a good thing that unexpected California frost didn’t freeze out the state’s avocado crop. It’s not just the Golden State that loves nature’s butter. Americans’ appetite for avocados has exploded over the last decade, jumping significantly in 2012 alone, in no small part due to marketing campaigns by foreign avocado growers. This weekend, Americans are expected to eat several tons of avocados on “Guacamole Sunday” while watching the Super Bowl.
Last year, according to the produce industry publication The Packer, about 75 percent of the avocados shipped within the U.S. in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl came from Mexico. Most of the rest came from Chile. And that translates to a lot of the creamy green fruits. This year Americans will eat almost 79 million pounds of them in the few weeks before the big game — an eight million pound increase over last year and a 100 percent increase since 2003.
None of this has been an accident. The avocado industry started promoting guacamole as a Super Bowl food back in the 1990s, shortly after the NAFTA agreement began allowing floods of avocados from Central and South America to enter the country in winter. By 2008, Mexico had become the largest supplier of avocados to the U.S.
Touchdown for the centralized global food system! Funny end-zone dance for big profits! But a painful loss for local farming. Avocado season hasn’t really begun yet, so the ones you buy for Guacamole Sunday aren’t likely to be super-tasty, even after you let them ripen in a bag for a couple days. If you’re going to give in to the green monster, though, just please don’t do this.