Often called Travis County Wildlife Removal (because of 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 around the world. Botanically a large berry containing a single large seed known as a”pit” or a”stone” it could be dated all the way back to Peru, sometime between 8,000 to 15,000 years ago. It was first introduced in America, specifically Florida and Hawaii in 1833 and in California in 1856.
Before 1915, the avocado was commonly called ahuacate due to its Spanish origins. Mexico is the world’s largest avocado grower, clocking in at 415,520 acres, which yields a harvest of 1.47 million tons. And in the U.S. 95 percent of production is located in Southern California, with 60% in San Diego County, where one of its most scenic cities, Fallbrook, claims the title of”Avocado Capital of the World.” Most Americans buy the”Hass” variety, which has a firmer meat and mixes and slices well. First cultivated in the mid-1930s by Rudolph Hass, of La Habra Heights, California, he named it after himself and patented the productive tree in 1935 (good thing his name wasn’t Przbyszewski or Butts).
Here are some of the ways we love our avocados:
guacamole with lots of salsa, chips and lime wedges;
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 mayo substitute;
Favorite accompaniment to Mexican foods;
added to smoothies and sandwiches;
Contained in a dip or salad dressing for raw veggies;
slathered on a sunburn or used as a facial mask;
Considering we all need”healthy fats” instead of unhealthy trans fat and saturated fats, the avocado provides omega 3 fat, isn’t 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 healthful addition to so many meals.
With America’s love of Mexican food, the avocado is a necessity and consumption has risen dramatically over the past two decades. It has jumped to a record high of nearly 1.9 billion pounds (or some 4.25 billion salmon ) last year, more than double the amount consumed in 2005, and almost four times as many as sold in 2000. Residents of Los Angeles consume more than twice as many as any other city (no surprise there) with NY second, Dallas third and Phoenix fourth. For Boomers who grew up without them, particularly east of the Mississippi, they might have been slow to arrive at the party, but with the availability of avocados both from Mexico and California, they have become plentiful albeit expensive in some areas of the country.
If you are lucky enough to live in the Southwest, where they grow most abundantly, they could 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.