At this point, it’s hard to remember a time before the avocado was an inescapable element of food culture. Inspiring both, This supposed superfood has spawned both pop-up restaurants, and scathing critiques of millennial spending habits. Amidst all the hysteria and hype, however, there seems to be at least one reason for us to reconsider our appetite for this fatty fruit. There's already evidence that avocado growth is bad for the environmentbecause of how it contributes to deforestation. And now we know, according to data compiled by an environmental consulting group, the average avocado generates a massive amount of greenhouse gas on its way to your toast as well.
Commissioned by food-tech company It’s Fresh!, Carbon Footprint Ltd. studied the amount of CO2 it takes for a package of two Hass avocados cultivated in Chile to reach consumers in the U.K, where the avocado has ripened to a £187 million (~$242 million) industry. Between growing, transporting, shipping and other processes meant to ensure freshness in transit, just two average-sized avocados add a whopping 846.37 grams of carbon dioxide to our planet’s atmosphere.
To put that number in the context, that’s almost twice as much as a KILOGRAM of bananas (480g), well over three times the amount of a large cappuccino (235g), and forty times more than a large coffee or tea. That steep CO2 figure doesn’t even incorporate the fact that Chilean avocados are one of the thirstiest fruits around, requiring nearly 97 gallons of irrigated water to produce a single pound.
In response to this eye-opening data, It’s Fresh! hopes to introduce a sheet that can extend the shelf life of fruits like avocados by a few days in order to improve supply chain efficiency. And while other places with suitable climates for growing avocados like Peru, South Africa and California generate slightly less greenhouse gas (likely due to shorter travel distances), there’s no avoiding the fact that getting this contentious crop to restaurants and markets in Great Britain and the U.S. comes at a steep environmental cost.