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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

As a vegetarian, and someone who attempts to follow a primarily plant-based diet, Ottilie admits that the motivation behind her lifestyle choices is mainly to be more sustainable, especially with the rising environmental crisis occurring around the globe. However, Ottilie informs us of the unfortunate, ugly green truth of avocados, and their un-sustainability in her article this week.

Having been repeatedly told that cutting out meat and dairy would have the most substantial impact in reducing my carbon footprint, as my transition into a more substantial lifestyle began; I quickly realised things are rarely as black and white as they appear.

The first realisation I had to face was the detrimental impact of avocados, dubbed a ‘health food’ and plastered all over Instagram, the delicious and notorious fruit has had immense popularity over the last few years, linked primarily to a healthy lifestyle.

However, the reality behind the avocado comes at a stark cost.

Due to their popularity, avocados have become something of a monoculture in some places, this means that large swaths of agricultural land aren’t being used to grow anything but avocados. Mexico produces more avocados than anywhere in the world, each year 11 billion pounds of avocado are consumed around the world.

Monoculture crops like avocados wind up drawing all the nutrients from the soil, slowly degrading it year after year.

Plantation-farmed cash crop commodities like avocados also encourage deforestation, as local farmers slash and burn huge swaths of natural land to make room for new and larger plantations. Shrubs and old trees are often taken down to provide avocados trees greater sunlight, contributing to deforestation and consequently leading to climate change, extinction, and an increased amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

The biggest problem with avocado production, however, is the amount of water they consume.

The World Economic Forum reports that around 9.5 billion litres of water are used every day in order to grow avocadoes, that is around 3,800 Olympic pools-worth of water.  Requiring a massive extraction of water from Michoacán aquifers, excessive extractions of water from these aquifers is having unexpected consequences, such as small earthquakes.

Like so many monocultures before them, avocados popularity have led to them becoming an unsustainable commodity.

Therefore, as we develop into a more sustainable future, we must think critically about the impact of the foods we eat. An awareness of the environmental impact of what we consume is the first step to reducing the climate impact of our food. The avocado situation makes it clear that it is not just meat and dairy that are imposed a heavy environmental toll.

Crucially, knowing where and how our food is produced should come before any Instagram or Tik-Tok crazes.

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Ottilie Owen

Nottingham '22

Ottilie is a third year English student at the University of Nottingham.
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