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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Avocado: the evolutionary anachronism that conquered the world

Por Rory

These days, one thing seems certain: avocados have conquered places where until a few decades ago they had not even heard of them. In Instagram, a basic search for #avocado currently yields more than 7.5 million publications. And not all are photos of the fans to show what they eat daily.

There are coffees served inside the avocado peels; toys woven in the shape of avocado; Easter eggs with avocado theme; avocados on greeting cards; and, more recently, images of men in the United States who, when proposing marriage to the girls, use avocados as ring bearers. Definitely, the humble avocado has people from all over the world under its spell. In the USA, for example, the annual avocado consumption of an average person has increased from 0.5 kg in 1989 to more than 3 kg in 2016.

In the United Kingdom, avocados had the third-largest sales growth of any grocery item last year, just behind a brand of beer and an energy drink. The consumption of this berry -efectively: botanically it is a berry- is so abundant that, in 2016, the Australian millennials were advised to stop buying so many if they wanted to have enough money to buy a property.

But how the avocado has gained so much popularity? At the end of the 19th century, in California they began to plant avocados and what they called the "crocodile pear" avocados. But they were not sold. Then, the California Avocado Society released ads in The New Yorker and Vogue magazines extolling them as the "fruit aristocrat for salads." This was the beginning of the now familiar air of superiority that avocados have in some countries.

The famous Marks & Spencer store claims that it introduced avocados to supermarkets in the United Kingdom in 1968, and called them "avocado pears". But the British were not very interested. In addition, the name confused them: when a client complained that she had boiled it and served it with English cream as if it were a dessert because her name said it was a pear. M&S had to start selling them with brochures explaining that they were to be eaten as a salad.

In the early 1990s, avocado growers in California were still looking for new ways to market their product. They decided to aim for the Super Bowl. See American football, they reasoned, went hand in hand with eating chips and sauces, and what better sauce than guacamole? They distributed samples, offered recipes, and it worked. Today, guacamole fans consume more than 47 million kilos of avocado each year on Super Bowl Sunday. With the rise of guacamole, people began to wonder what else they could do with them.

In 2013, actress and lifestyle vendor Gwyneth Paltrow turned 'avocado on toast' into one of the key components of her highly successful cookbook "It's All Good." The book coincided with the rising trend of "eating healthy," a movement that could be said to have begun with the widespread adoption of a "Californian" lifestyle -athleisure, green juices, salads- as featured celebrities show. Avocado recipes began to appear everywhere, most of them citing their "superfood" qualities (in particular, the fact that 75% of the fat in avocados is unsaturated, "good fat") and its great versatility as an ingredient.

Before we knew it, avocados had captivated health-conscious millennials. They began to sell so well that the "avocado hand" phenomenon became a recognized medical condition, although difficult to understand for those who come from countries where the avocado is local. Soon they created an empire of soft, green goods, from avocado jars to an avocado-themed online gift shop. However, his race towards global domination continues to advance in 2018. In Asia they are taking over the world's fastest-growing economy: China imported 32,100 tons of avocados last year, which was more than 1,000 times the number of 2011. Apparently, the future is soft, green and undeniably good for health.