Avocados are quite trendy, but what hip health-food eaters may not realize is that the fruit is causing problems in Mexico, where many are grown. Avocados are so much more profitable for Mexican farmers to grow than most other crops that some growers are breaking laws and thinning out mature pine forest in order to plant avocado trees there, writes Joanna Blythman in the Guardian. While permanent forest "takes care of itself and acts as a vast carbon sink," avocado trees need repeated treatment with fertilizers and pesticides, and they require quite a bit of water to grow.
"The unprecedented international appetite for this unique fruit is indirectly fueling illegal deforestation and environmental degradation," Blythman writes. As for whether Mexican farmers actually see the economic benefits from growing avocados, a good portion of the revenue may go to a drug cartel that controls much of the trade. And as for buying avocados grown in other countries instead, Blythman says she's "seen enough of foreign fruit 'farms' to suspect the worst," including "abysmally low-paid" workers living in terrible conditions. Your most ethical bet when it comes to avocados and other fruits and vegetables that can't be grown locally is to avoid making them a staple of your diet, and to seek out the Fairtrade label when you do eat them. Click for Blythman's full column. (Read more avocado stories.)