Often referred to as an alligator pear (due to its shape and the rough green skin of some cultivars) it’s actually a fruit and appears more frequently in the form of guacamole and is loved the world over. Botanically a large berry containing a single large seed called a”pit” or a”stone” it could be dated all the way back to Peru, sometime between 8,000 to 15,000 years back. It was first introduced in the United States, namely Florida and Hawaii in 1833 and in California in 1856.
Before 1915, the avocado has been commonly called ahuacate because of its Spanish origins. Mexico is the world’s largest avocado grower, clocking in at 415,520 acres, which yields a crop of 1.47 million tons. And in the U.S. 95% of production is located in Southern California, with 60 percent in San Diego County, where one of its most populous cities, Fallbrook, claims the title of”Avocado Capital of the World.” Most Americans purchase the”Hass” variety, which has a firmer meat and mixes and pieces well.
Here are some of the ways we enjoy our avocados:
Guacamole with lots of salsa, chips and lime wedges;
Currently”avocado toast” is the newest craze, smashing it on toast with lemon juice, chili flakes, and some fresh herbs;
In Mexico and Central America, avocados have been served mixed with white rice, in soups, salads, or on the side of chicken and meat;
A non-dairy or Animal Control Services replacement;
Favorite accompaniment to Mexican foods;
added to smoothies and sandwiches;
Considering we all need”healthy fats” instead of unhealthy trans fat and saturated fats, the avocado provides omega 3 fat, is not only highly nutritious but can also be soothing in skin preparations. Unlike other fruits, they are low in sugar and can be enjoyed daily as a healthy fat and welcome addition to so many foods.
Together with America’s love of Mexican food, the avocado is a must and consumption has risen dramatically over the past two decades. It’s soared to a record high of almost 1.9 billion pounds (or some 4.25 billion avocados) last year, over double the amount consumed in 2005, and nearly four times as many as marketed in 2000. Residents of Los Angeles consume more than twice as many as any other town (no surprise there) with NY second, Dallas third and Phoenix fourth. For Boomers who grew up without them, especially east of the Mississippi, they may have been slow to arrive at the party, but with the availability of avocados both from Mexico and California, they’ve become plentiful albeit pricey in some regions of the country.
If you are lucky enough to live in the Southwest, where they grow most abundantly, they can be had in a farmers market for fifty cents apiece and sometimes less. So enjoy this delicious fruit, and don’t spare the new lime juice.