Matt Klim Professor Vengadasalam ENG135 18 February 2010 Natures Butter The avocado is often misinterpreted. At times it is looked down on for being such a high fat content fruit, but in another view, the nutrients and amino acids from the avocado are something that everyone needs. This fruit can replace the need of meat in your diet, promote weight loss, and keep your body healthy and cancer free. While these statements may seem a little extreme, to the most part they are true. Many of us don't even realize that avocados are actually fruits but they are indeed part of the berry family. When we hear avocado we might think of guacamole, the popular Mexican dip that can go with, well just about anything. This was probably the last thing on your mind when talking about weight loss and lower cholesterol levels but according to Bob Berg at the "
Department of Botany and Plant Sciences"
at the University of California, "
the most nutritious of all fruits. In this single delectable fruit are combined the protein of meat, the fat of butter[but much more wholesome!], the vitamins and minerals of green vegetables, the flavor of nuts, a six course dinner; the avocado is a food without rival among the fruits, the veritable fruit of paradise” (Berg). That leaves us with a question, where does this "
veritable fruit of paradise"
actually come from? The answer to this question dates back to when the Aztecs roamed the earth. When they first saw the avocado tree, they believed it to be some sort of an aphrodisiac and its common name was called 'the testicle tree'. The shape of the avocado and the way it hung from the tree resembled testicles. They believed that eating the fruit would make you more potent and sexually stimulated. This is how the avocado got its name today. The word avocado comes from the word "
, which translates to testicle. You might think this is kind of odd, because of how large avocados actually are, but apparently when the Aztecs discovered the tree, the avocado berries were much smaller than what you would find today in your supermarket. Ross McKinnon clears things up: Originally, avocado fruit were about the size of olives. Today's avocados are the result of a concerted breeding program over a couple of hundred years. (McKinnon) Avocados are grown all around the world in places like Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, and Mexico. In the US, California and Florida are the only states that grow avocados. If you live in the United States and you buy an avocado from your local supermarket you are most likely getting one that was grown in California. In fact, 90% of the United States avocado crop is produced in California. The only problem with this is because the avocado tree requires so much water to grow; it is starting to become a costly crop because of the increased costs of water in California. This is why you will see more expensive prices of avocados in the United States compared to other countries. (California Avocado Commission) Although Mexico produces 68% of the world’s avocados, they have had some trouble with exporting into the United States. "
When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994, Mexico tried to export avocados into the United States but the government resisted, claiming that the trade would introduce fruit flies that would destroy California's crops."
(Lopez) While fruit flies and other pests are a somewhat serious problem, it has been proven that the avocados being exported from Mexico are clean and pest free. Thousands of tests have been conducted. While Mexico fights for their right to export avocados to all 50 states in the US,(right now they are only allowed 19 states), the major California avocado producers are busy with other things. According to the article 'Guacamole Wars': "
The Californians have played a double-sided game,"
gripes Ricardo Javier Vega, president of the Uruapan-based Association of Mexican Avocado Exporters and Packers. "
They have scared Americans with stories of monstrous creatures supposedly living inside Mexican avocados. Then they come down here and ship Mexican avocados around the world, including to the U.S. It's nonsense."
(Moore) Apparently the big California avocado corporations don't want any competition of avocado sales. They know that if they will let Mexico exports into United States that there will be less of a demand for the food and decrease profits made selling them.Michoacán, a state in Mexico, is the largest avocado producer internationally and labeled the Avocado Capitol of the World. Aside from that, Michoacán is truly a beautiful place. Marquise Calderón de la Barca has experienced it first hand and here is what he has to say about it: Michoacán is a confluence of landscapes, rivers and lakes, a variety of climates, cascades hidden in abundantly exuberant vegetation, virgin beaches with crystalline waters, tempestuous waves and calm cooling waters, therapeutic spring waters, geysers, caves and subterranean rivers.(Marquise) Michoacán is a great state that builds a lot of jobs. Victor Moreno Torres, promotions director for the Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacán (APEAM), explains: "
Avocados, directly and indirectly, provide about 300,000 jobs in the state and that the purpose of APEAM is not only to support the members and export more avocados but to regulate the expansion rate, not flood the market, and not cut down the state's forests in the process."
(Pack) Not only is Mexico the largest avocado producing country in the world, but they also have the highest avocado consumption rate on the planet. They consume 20 pounds per person per year! The avocado is a huge part of the Mexican culture because it goes with basically every type of dish. Most Mexican food is spicy and avocados will balance this out. The most popular use of the avocado is in guacamole. Different parts of Mexico have different ways of making guacamole. In an interview with Mr. Bayless, conducted by Anne Braley, Bayless states: "
In Mexico City, they put tomatillos in their guacamole."
In Oaxaca, they have a very simple guacamole -- mashed avocado with garlic and salt. But in Guadalajara, they go the whole nine yards, adding tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice and green chilies to the mix."
(Braley) Most of us know how good it can be when adding it to your taco or pairing it with salsa and chips. It is something that we don't eat every day, more of something that is eaten on a special occasion. However this is not the case in Mexico. Robert Sietsema sums up Mexican cuisine in a nutshell, and it certainly involves avocados. “If you were lucky enough to be sitting in just such a seaside villa in Puerto Vallarta right now, here is the sort of meal you might enjoy. It begins with a bowl of zesty guacamole, the chunky avocado dip laced (judiciously) with onions and jalapeños and flanked with crisp tortilla chips and cool sour cream. Dilute the sour cream with a little water, and you'll have an approximation of crema, the topping dribbled on tacos and nearly everything else in Mexico. Brightly colored chili-orange chicken arrives next, infused with a full range of earthy Mexican flavors—onions, oregano, garlic, and, of course, pulverized chili peppers"
(Sietsema) Avocados are used in Mexican soups, salads, mixed with rice, or chicken and meat. In other countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, and south India, the avocado is used as a desert in milkshakes with ice cream and chocolate syrup. Personally I don't find this to be the best way to enjoy the avocado. Not only can the avocado be eaten fresh, it can also be extracted into oil. Avocado oil is used often in other countries but not yet popular enough to have a place in the average Americans' pantry. This could be due to the fact that it is simply unavailable or hard to find. According to Avocado Commission Director of Industry Affairs, Guy Witney: Pacifica Culinaria, based in the De Luz area west of Temecula, is the only company based in the United States selling avocado oil, according to the California Avocado Commission. The vast majority of avocado oils available in this country are from companies based in foreign countries, especially in Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.(Kawar) Avocado oil tastes like eating an avocado straight up, without any lemon or salt. It has a mild flavor and a light buttery texture. The owner of Pacifica Culinaria, Debbie McIntyre, says that her customers use the oil mostly for cold dipping sauces and salad dressings. She also suggests searing meat at high temperatures with the oil, because the temperature at which it starts to burn -- over 500 degrees -- is the highest of any oil. (Kawar) Avocados aren't just meant to be eaten! Avocados are used in many cosmetics ranging from skin moisturizer, cleansing cream, makeup base, sunscreen, lipstick, and hair conditioner. Garnier is a popular company that sells hair and skin products. After reviewing some of the ingredients on their hair conditioner, avocado oil was part of it. They claim that, "
With vitamin E, it protects against dryness while locking in color and moisture to keep you color radiant and your hair silk soft."
(Garnier) So far we have discovered where the avocado came from, where it grows, and how it can be used in many different applications. Next we go deeper into the avocado and explore everything from exactly how the tree grows to the nutritional value. The avocado needs a climate with no frost and very little wind. High winds can reduce the humidity and dehydrate the flowers. On average the avocado tree produces only 120 avocados annually but commercial orchards can reach up to 20 tonnes per hectare. (Whiley) To sum that up, 1 tonne is equal to 1,000 kg and a hectare is roughly 100,000 square feet. If you do the math, that's a lot of avocado! "
The tree grows to 20m, with alternately arranged leaves 12cm - 25cm long. The flowers are inconspicuous, greenish-yellow 5mm - 10mm wide. The pear-shaped fruit is 7cm - 20cm long, weighs between 100 grams - 1,000 grams, and has a large central seed, 5 cm - 6.4cm long."
(Crane) The avocado is much like the banana in that when it is grown, it matures on the tree but starts to ripen when picked. The fruit is picked when it reaches full maturity and it will ripen in just a few days if stored at room temperatures. Avocados are pear shaped, dark green fruits but the color can vary depending on the strain. While there are many different strains of avocados, I don't want to bore you so I'll just go over the most popular and consumed here in North America. The Hass avocado is the most grown avocado in California and Mexico. The trees can produce fruit year round and almost all avocados sold in the US are Hass. The Hass avocados sold in America usually look dark-green or purplish-black when they are ripe. The easiest way to tell if an avocado is ripe is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. Ripe avocados are generally firm but will start to squish if you put too much pressure on them. Avocados are starting to become more popular all around the world. With more people making a change to healthier lifestyles, it is evident that this fruit will start to show up more in people's diets. With the protein of meat, vitamins and minerals of vegetables, and its smooth buttery texture, it's hard to pass up. No matter how you eat this fruit, it is a proven fact that eating avocados will ultimately lead to a better and healthier lifestyle. There are many misconceptions about avocados, one being that they are very high in fat, therefore not healthy. That statement is only partially true. While they may be high in fat, the type of fat is called monounsaturated, which is scientifically proven to maintain good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol and give a boost the cardiovascular system.(Berg) Avocados are high in vitamins B, D, E and are the only fruit with monounsaturated fat. Not only is the avocado a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid, which has recently been shown to offer significant protection against breast cancer, but it is also a very concentrated dietary source of "
. It also contains measurable amounts of related carotenoids plus significant quantities of vitamin E. (Tankano) Avocados can essentially prevent strokes. People who consume polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats over saturated and Trans fats will have lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. When you think of fruits, you generally don't think protein. That's because most fruits don't have it. Avocados however, are an excellent source of protein making it a great substitute to meats. The avocado is a mild-bland, oil-rich, nutrient-rich deliciously flavored food. The avocado can be served as a soup, salad, dip, sandwich spread, garnish, half-shell spoon-out, entree, desert, or beverage. (Berg) The avocado is also an excellent candidate for weight loss. The monounsaturated fat speeds up the metabolism rate. The high fat content that comes with avocados will leave you feeling full after eating it which will help stop overeating. The rich supply of vitamins and minerals also makes the diet more wholesome and satisfying and thus more conductive to overall health and to moderation in consumption.(Berg) Just like most things in the world, as long as the avocado is enjoyed in moderation, it will do wonders for your body and improve your way of life. Works Cited Bob Berg Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California. “The Health Benefits of Avocados”. Regenerativenutrition.com. Web. 23 Jan. 2010 Braly, Anne P. "
Great guacamole: With many possible add-ins, this avocado dip is known for versatility"
. Chattanooga Times/Free Press. 23 May. 2007. Web. Feb. 17 2010 California Avocado Commission. "
Avocado Fun Facts"
. http://www.avocado.org/about/fun_facts. Web. 15 Feb. 2010 Crane, JH. "
Avocado Growing in the Florida Home Landscape"
. University of Florida. http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG213. Web. 12 Feb. 2010 Kawar, Mark. "
Press-Enterprise, The(Riverside,CA) 28, May 2006. Web. Feb. 17 2010 Lopez,Ledesma. "
Mexico praises lifting of last U.S importing barriers"
. International Herald Tribune. 2007 Feb. 2. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/02/03/buisness/LA-FIN-ECO-Mexico-US-Avocados.php Web. 13 Feb. 2010 Works Cited(Cont') Marquise Calderón de la Barca. "
Introduction to Michoacán - the soul of Mexico"
http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/201-introduction-to-michoac%C3%A1n-the-soul-of-mexico. Web Feb 17 2010 MM Pack. "
An avocado Story"
. http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A653756. Web Feb. 18 2010 Moore, Leslie. "
. Latin Trade (English); Jan2000, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p22. Web. 16 Feb. 2010 No Auther. "
Garnier Natural Ingrediants"
http://www.garnierusa.com Web. 17 Feb. 2010 Ross McKinnon. "
Aphrodisiac ; avocados"
. Gold Coast Bulletin, The. 13 Jan. 2007. Web Feb. 18 2010 Sietsema, Robert. "
A Flavorful South-of-the-Border Supper."
Biography; Jan2002, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p92, 3p. Feb 17 2010 Takano, Junji. "
Health Benefits of Avocado"
http://www.pyroenergen.com Web. Jan 25 2010 Whiley, A. "
Avocado Production in Austrailia"
. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x6902w/x9602w92.htm. Web 10 Feb. 2010