Avocado toast is in serious trouble: Our obsession with avocados has led to illegal deforestation as farmers attempt to keep up with the product demand.
As reported previously, avocado shortages have been an issue in New Zealand and California, and the increased demands for the popular green fruit has been a challenge for Mexico — still the top producer of avocados. Mexican farmers have been illegally cutting down pine tree forests in the state of Michoacán to make way for young avocado trees, according to a report from the Associated Press.
“Even where they aren't visibly cutting down forest, there are avocados growing underneath (the pine boughs), and sooner or later they'll cut down the pines completely," said Mario Tapia Vargas, a researcher at Mexico's National Institute for Forestry, Farming and Fisheries Research.
Deforestation of pine trees threatens the livelihood of the quickly vanishing monarch butterflies, which have made the Michoacán forests their home. Additionally, according to the AP, avocado trees use two times more water than the more common pine or fir trees, which could be a damper on environmental resources in the region.
“Beyond the displacement of forests and the effects on water retention, the high use of agricultural chemicals and the large volumes of wood needed to pack and ship avocados are other factors that could have negative effects on the area’s environment and the wellbeing of its inhabitants,” Greenpeace México added in a statement.