Superfoods such as avocado and quinoa has become increasingly popular in recent times along with the vegan lifestyle. Vegans try to make a positive impact on the world by avoiding products of animal origin, by not exploiting animals, and protesting against the mass production of meat that is harmful to the environment. Thus, for example, honey is not consumed due to the exploitation of bees. However, there are quite a few reasons why avocados, which are heavily consumed by vegans, and quinoa are not as animal-friendly, and not even humane. Why? Keep reading.
Avocados are recommended because of their high nutritional content and their good fats.
But as well as almonds, avocados are produced commercially on a large scale and are dependent on migratory beekeeping. There’s less or no problem with butternut squash sourced locally, while avocados and almonds sourced from California are an ethical issue. Why? In California, there are not enough local bees, so beehives are transported on the back of trucks between farms.
Another worrying aspect is the damage of human lives avocado production results in Mexico and Bolivia. The market of the trendy brunch menu ingredient involves many conflicts, death, and deforestation from Mexico to Chile, not to mention soil erosion. Mexico is the world’s biggest producer of avocados. The state of Michoacán produces most of Mexico’s avocados, which were worth $2.4billion last year, as a The Guardian’s article claims. The industry is popular and was good to local farmers because it pays up to 12 times the Mexican minimum wage.
But the popularity of avocado started to attract violent cartels to the trade. A report says that criminal groups cleared protected woodlands to make room for their avocado groves. Cartel activity involves child labor in farming, illegal deforestation as well as logging, and forest clearing for cultivation. This exploitation model of cartels also includes papayas, limes and strawberries, illegal logging and mining, so it is not only drugs to worry about.
As mentioned above, we have to take into account that these trendy superfoods are imported from a great distance away, sometimes from poor, developing countries. But we are generating important workplaces, right? The truth is that trendy grains, such as quinoa was once a nourishing staple food for poor people in Peru and Bolivia. But it is no longer affordable for the residents as the demand for it has increased in the last few years. As a result, they also import junk food from foreign countries because it is cheaper for them to eat, but clearly way less healthy.
The high demand for quinoa also leads farmers to seek more land, and the mass production generates soil erosion and potential desertification.
The situation is not hopeless. Bolivian farmers have got a loan worth 10 million from their president to help offset the difference between the price of quinoa and their own yearly income.
What can we do? Of course, we don’t recommend you to stop buying quinoa as the production creates so many workplaces. But you can be more conscious about where you purchase your superfoods. No, you don’t have to travel to Bolivia for that. However, you can buy products that are certified by Fair Trade, which is an organization that works directly with farmers in export-driven countries.