Often called an alligator pear (because of its shape and the rough green skin of some cultivars) it is really a fruit and appears more often in the form of guacamole and is loved the world over. Botanically a large berry containing a single large seed known as a”pit” or a”rock” it can be dated all the way back to Peru, sometime between 8,000 to 15,000 years ago. It was first introduced in America, 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. And in the U.S. 95 percent of production is located in Southern California, with 60 percent in San Diego County, where one of its most scenic cities, Fallbrook, claims the title of”Avocado Capital of the World.” Most Americans purchase the”Hass” variety, which has a milder meat and mixes and slices well.
Here are some of the ways we love our avocados:
Guacamole with lots of salsa, chips and lime wedges;
Currently”avocado toast” is the latest 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, Rat Poop, salads, or on the side of meat and poultry;
A non-dairy or mayo substitute;
Popular accompaniment to Mexican foods;
added to smoothies and sandwiches;
Contained in a dip or salad dressing for raw veggies;
Considering we all need”healthy fats” as opposed to unhealthy trans fat and saturated fats, the avocado provides omega 3 fat, isn’t only highly nutritious but may 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 necessity and consumption has risen dramatically over the past two decades. It’s jumped to a record high of almost 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 eat 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’ve become plentiful albeit expensive in some regions of the country.
If you are fortunate enough to live in the Southwest, where they grow most abundantly, they can be had at a farmers market for fifty cents apiece and sometimes less. So enjoy this delicious fruit, and do not spare the new lime juice.