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Like fashions for avocados, asparagus and other superfoods change our lives for the worse

08.10.2021, 15: 47 EST

A source: RBC Style

Statistics show: a boom in products that suddenly took the main place on the shelves of supermarkets and became restaurant hits can harm the ecosystem and hit the farmers. We understand the consequences of the fashion for exotics.

Photo: Shutterstock

The world has moved on to avocado - this, in general, is not news. Saucony recently released a sneaker that looks like an avocado toast. The Chinese came up with a huge inflatable avocado that you can swim on in the pool: a "bone" is taken out of it and turns into an inflatable ball. Millennials propose by wrapping the ring in a fruit cut in half. In short, avocado is the new unicorn, writes RBC Style.

We remember that before becoming a pop icon, avocados were the food of the century. If there was no avocado toast on the menu of some fancy cafe, the client had every right to turn around and leave, and the chef was supposed to retreat and stick his hand in the blender. There are already dozens of restaurants with a fashionable mono-concept, where the menu is built around avocado (in Moscow, we counted two mini-chains and one restaurant with only the word avocado in the name), and those where green fruit is added to at least three dishes cannot be counted at all ... In supermarkets, avocados are as mountains as greenhouse cucumbers, and we've all added to our list of useful skills the ability to condition them with a craft paper bag.

Five minutes of statistics: since 2002, the consumption of avocados in the world has grown by 250% - first due to the American market, and now the European one has also joined it. In the European Union, in 2018 alone, they began to buy 35% more avocados. But there is also an Asian market, in particular a Chinese one. The Chinese, who also love everything fashionable and healthy, have already realized that buying avocados abroad is a currency drain from the country, and in 2017 they began to grow an evergreen fruit plant in Yunnan province.

But at the end of 2018, at the very peak of this orgy (socks with avocado! Avocado carving! Hashtag #avocadotoast!), There was a reverse wave. Chefs began to ban avocados from the menu as a harmful drug and make loud statements about it. The first was Michelin-starred Irish chef J.P. McMahon, chef and owner of Aniar Restaurant and Tartare Café in Galway, Western Ireland. With typical Irish drama, McMahon called avocados "the blood diamonds of Mexico" and said that Irish restaurants should remove them from the menu, or at least reduce their number. It is clear that the Irish love everything green, but the passion for exotic fruits there, as in the entire European Union, reached some unhealthy proportions - and McMahon could not remain silent. At the same time and hypanul.

On the subject: The dark side of avocado: turned out to be harmful!

But why immediately "blood diamonds"? The fact is that the increased demand for avocados has given rise to a bad trend in the countries where they are grown: in Chile and Central Mexico, pine forests are being cut down for avocado trees, destroying complex ecosystems. In the language of ecologists, this process is called deforestation. Plus, growing avocados requires a tremendous amount of water, far more than any other fruit. Accordingly, fresh water supplies are being depleted - in some areas there is no longer enough for other crops, which has hit small farms that cannot afford to bring water from afar.

Further - more: in Mexico, local drug cartels became interested in the avocado business. They began to “protect” the farmers - in other words, they were obliged to pay tribute to all Caballeros Templarios and La Familia, and if you don’t pay ... We all roughly know how Latin American drug cartels deal with those who dare to object to them. Already feeling guilty about canceling your Avocado Queen reservation for tomorrow? Well wait. Yes, Mexico is the largest avocado producer in the world, but the harvest here is split between Mexico itself, where avocados are like potatoes to us, and the United States. Therefore, the likelihood that by buying haas, you are sponsoring drug cartels, is very small. Most of the avocados on the Russian and European markets are from Israel, where no forests have been cut down for their planting - they have never been there.

But, nevertheless, the sense of proportion did not harm anyone yet.

Silent Quinoa

Avocados are far from the only example of how a hysterical fascination with a certain fashionable product influenced the ecology and destinies of people, and not so much the best way. Here is another example from the recent past. 2013 year was declared in the world Year of Quinoa. It was announced not by anyone, but by the UN General Assembly, they even drew a separate logo for this case. A few years earlier, HLS-maniacs, chefs and housewives, who discovered signs of gluten intolerance, ate exotic South American cereals like oatmeal. Accustomed to its not too expressive taste and found that it perfectly replaces mashed potatoes, couscous, buckwheat - to whom.

The price of quinoa has increased by more than 10 times since the mid-XNUMXs, when the general public learned about it. Initially it was the poor food of the Andean Indians, and then - oops! - and now Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama are talking about quinoa with admiration. The subtlety is that quinoa cannot be planted in any garden, like some kale. The capricious annual grain crop only grows at a certain height in the Andes, mainly in Bolivia, Peru and several other countries with suitable climatic zones. When quinoa became fashionable, a real gold rush began in these countries. The peasants gave up growing potatoes and switched to quinoa, plowing any more or less suitable piece of Andean land for the so-called golden grain. At first, everything went well - the peasants earned extra money, bought new televisions and sports suits.

On the subject: 5 low-cost superfoods that fell short

But as is often the case in countries with poorly diversified economies, a strong passion for one product did not benefit anyone. Quinoa prices have risen not only in the world, but also in Bolivia and Peru themselves. Now many of the poor Bolivians and Peruvians, for whom quinoa has been a staple of the diet for many years, simply cannot afford it. It's as if buckwheat has become the world's main superfood, and prices for it, including in Russia, have increased several times - because it is fashionable. Pretty frustrating, right? Even for those who could afford buckwheat at a superfood price. What in such a situation does the poor and not very healthy lifestyle-oriented Bolivian peasant switch to? For junk food, including imported ones, which are only getting cheaper lately.

Meanwhile, global demand for quinoa has fallen: residents of large cities and richer countries are moody people, the fashion for superfoods changes almost as often as the fashion for prints on sweatshirts. The girls' blogs and HLS-media will be happy to tell you what is fashionable to put in handbags this season and what you urgently need to get a refrigerator. Now imagine that you are a poor Bolivian peasant who has invested everything he had in quinoa. Transferring from this needle to something else is not so easy. In general, we have provided the Bolivian economy with rapid growth with our passion, and then with the same rapid decline. And just wanted to try a gluten-free diet.

There are a lot of such examples in history, some are more dramatic, others less. In the 1990s and early 2000s, much was said and written about how priceless mangroves were cut down to grow shrimp. Then remember how the whole advanced world suddenly rushed to lose weight (a figure like Kate Moss’s will not do itself!), Expel fats from the diet and lean on protein! Gourmets and healthy lifestyles from the first world countries discovered shrimp as a healthy protein product with low fat content. Here is a girl with a model figure orders arugula with shrimps in a Novikovsky restaurant - and in Thailand, meanwhile, another ecosystem is getting smaller. That is, we are, of course, dramatizing, but here are some statistics again: from 1980 to 2005, the consumption of shrimp has tripled.

Do you remember the fashion for asparagus? Most of it was not from a neighboring garden (although asparagus can be grown in the Moscow region if desired), but from supermarkets, and it got to supermarkets and comes from Asia and South America. Asparagus, like avocado, requires a lot, a lot of moisture. In Peru, which decided to become the world leader in asparagus production, at some point the locals living near the asparagus plantations began to find their wells dry. Just think, Peruvians, but in Moscow in a trendy restaurant in the middle of winter there is an asparagus festival.

Another product that makes conservationists look round at the mention is soy. Soybean production has grown 1950 times since the 15s. And it's not about the popularity of veganism - as you know, soy is added to products and fed to cows, chickens, and fish of artificial breeding. Everyone knows that China eats a lot of soybeans (and also feeds pigs with it, almost half of the world's population is raised in China), but the paradox is that most of the Chinese soybeans are imported. And the main regions of its production are the USA (mainly for domestic consumption), Brazil and Argentina. In general, goodbye, subtropical forests - we need territories; goodbye, small farms - mainly large producers are engaged in production; goodbye Amazon Indians. Soybean cultivation has called into question the existence of 650 Brazilian Indians from more than 200 tribes, according to the Wildlife Fund. Not for you, dear Indians - we need to feed China and America. If you were already going to show your vegan friends that they are destroying the planet, wait a minute: mass production of meat is even more harmful to the environment.

Industrial production or mining of anything in general is harmful to the planet and to us. Let's remember the story with plastic. Its production began only in the 1940s - less than a century had passed, as we realized: a little more - and we will suffocate in plastic dumps after strangling half of the whales.

On the subject: From convenience foods to detox: how did the fashion for 'healthy eating' change over 80 years

In recent years, the source of hysteria most often become the so-called useful products. And before that they were delicacies. Since the fashion for black caviar at the beginning of the 20th century resulted in almost all sturgeon being caught in the Volga in a couple of decades. At least two-meter individuals who were 300 years old: there was not one left, and the population was thinned tenfold. Caviar sold well for currency, and the currency in 1920 – 1930-ies the young Soviet republic needed as air. And then the USSR acted exactly the same way as Mexico is doing now in the case of avocados: since there is a demand, we will provide supply at any cost. And when, in 1938, for the first time, catch quotas were introduced, it was already, how to say, a little bit late.

Then, however, they did not yet know the word sustainability, there were no conscientious chefs who would refuse to use caviar in their kitchens, there was no Internet on which to spread the call not to eat caviar in kilograms. But we have it all. So what? From Baikal, by the way, they report that it became difficult to find a muksun - it was taken to Moscow in total.

All ran - and I ran

It is clear that such stories happen mainly in third world countries, where the economy is not sufficiently diversified and people desperately cling to any chance to make money. If suddenly all over the world the demand for wagyu grows tenfold, the Japanese will not increase their livestock of gobies: there will be just as many of them as there were, and let the whole world wait. Abstinence and self-control are the lot of wealthy people and rich countries. But not when it comes to avocado. In an amicable way, restaurateurs, chefs, even gastrobloggers should understand that when they artificially stir up interest in a certain product, declaring it to be the solution to all our imaginary health problems, they change the elements of the global ecosystem. Yes, a restaurateur, boss, and even a blogger has that kind of power.

Troubles in general because we love to dwell on something on the orders. Influences and trendsetters command: “Fas” - and we rush to buy avocados, drink coffee from Ethiopia, or swallow pills with iHerb, recommended by an instagram blogger. In most cases, it is harmless, but it also happens! Man has always been a royal creature, just in the era of social networks, this swarm has grown tens or even hundreds of thousands of times. And now, when we all swarm up on some regular useful fruit, the consequences are not visible after tens of years, but after a year. No, no one says that we urgently need to quit eating avocados - after all, drug cartels also need to live on something. It's just good to make your mantra "not every day." Even if it is very, very fashionable food.

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