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Toliver

Mexican Avocados & the Cartels

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Mexican Cartels are fighting to control the booming Mexican avocado business.  The article is from the Los Angeles Times. Hopefully, you won't encounter a paywall.

 

"Inside the bloody cartel war for Mexico’s multibillion-dollar avocado industry"

Quote

Mexico’s multibillion-dollar avocado industry, headquartered in Michoacan state, has become a prime target for cartels, which have been seizing farms and clearing protected woodlands to plant their own groves of what locals call “green gold.”

 

I love avocados and guacamole. I remember when the US Avocado industry fought to prevent Mexican Avocados from entering the US. The "pro" argument at the time was that increased competition would cause the prices of avocados to drop in US grocery stores. History has shown that didn't happen. Turns out the US grocery stores who sell the avocados ended up the winners, but that's another story.

By opening the US borders to Mexican avocados, it started a bloody power struggle to control the Mexican Avocado industry.

How does your guacamole taste now?

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“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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It's quite true. Not only are the cartels taking over the avocado industry in Michoacán, the environmental impacts are significant. Water use, pesticide use, burning the forests to clear for new groves--it makes buying avocados seems like a betrayal of one's principles. In theory, forest trees are not allowed to be cut without the appropriate permit, but we all know that this is a law more ignored than followed. Once a forest burns the law says it must not be replanted for 20 years. If you believe that I have a bridge you might be interested in.

 

Many of us have our own trees or know someone who does, which solves that particular problem, but for the rest of the world it's a different story. We see truckloads of young men returning from the avocado groves--they stand up in the bed of a pickup--and they are all smiling. Avocado harvesting pays very well, well enough that these guys quit their jobs in construction or other useful occupations to make 500 to 700 pesos a day picking avocados, much more than any builder can afford. Our Spanish teacher's son was recruited and did it for a couple of weeks, but quit when he was told he had to carry a gun in case a rival gang attacked. He said the money wasn't worth it. He's now in university, studying agriculture.

 

The real pity is that when one drives to Uruapan, the center of the industry, the roadsides are lined with nurseries selling young trees. There are thousands of them of all sizes, which makes me wonder who's buying them and where they will be planted. These trees are grafts, with Hass trees grafted onto Criollo (the local less desirable variety) rootstock. Criollos are suitable for our altitudes so the resulting plant is hardier and able to produce a crop at 7200 feet.

 

I only buy avocados from the people in the mercado selling from a 5-gallon bucket, the product of their own trees, if I don't get them from a neighbor. We used to have a tree but it got diseased and we had to take it out.

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Formerly "Nancy in CO"

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I employed many guys from Michoacan and there is a large ex-pat population here. As I noted in another topic I only do from local farmers or gifted from neighbors. The trendiness is annoying but money talks especially in empoverishd places. 

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Until recently, avocados were my staple breakfast if I could find good ones at the store. (There's no such thing as a local avocado in northern Minnesota.) When we're on the road I keep an eye out for the local avocados, but I have bought them in stores even when they're labeled as being from Mexico if they looked good. I won't do that now. That breakfast and the salad inclusion isn't worth the human and environmental cost. Thanks for the information and links, folks.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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