Avocados, once a staple of every Instagrammable brunch plate and hipster coffee bar, are being given their marching orders and may begin to disappear from menus


On environmental grounds, mostly. Avocados are native to Central and South America and that’s where the bulk of production still takes place, meaning the carbon footprint of imported avocados is substantial. They travel over 5000 miles to reach us and on top of that require temperature-controlled storage en route. Carbon Footprint Ltd, a company specialising in carbon offsetting, estimates that a pack of two small avocados has twice the footprint of a kilogramme of bananas. They also use a great deal of water, as much as 320 litres to grow just one avocado. That’s about 14 toilet flushes – not seem a lot in rainy Scotland, perhaps, but a big deal in countries with arid climates where water is precious.

Anything else?

Plenty. With the lifting of a US ban on Mexican avocados, exports from the country rocketed and production increased to meet the demand. Mexico now produces over a third of the world’s avocados. This has resulted in monoculture on a massive scale, heavy use of agrichemicals, the exploitation of labour and harmful soil degradation. And of course where there is money to be made, there are criminal gangs bent on extortion and violence, so that’s another problem. And things are only going to get worse now that China is discovering a taste for the fruit.

Hang on. Fruit?

Yes, fruit. When James Bond order one for pudding while dining with Vesper Lynd at the end of Casino Royale, he orders an ‘avocado pear’, which is another name for them (Vesper plays safe and has strawberries and cream). If you want to be even more horticulturally and botanically precise, then technically avocados are berries, even though they have a stone.

Goodbye guacamole?

That’s what some chefs are now saying. Likewise it’s sayonara to smashed avo and au revoir to the avocado brunch bowl. As co-founder of Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca, food writer and former Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers has more than a passing interest in the avocado. So where other restaurateurs are whipping up meat substitutes out of pea proteins, black beans and the like, Miers has introduced – wait for it – Wahacamole. It dispenses with those ethically troublesome avocados and instead recreates the same creamy loveliness using fava beans. Teamed with green chilli, lime and fresh coriander, it makes a more than passable alternative. In fact Miers isn’t the only foodie turning to other ingredients to mimic the avocado’s essential properties. Kol, a high-end Mexican restaurant in London, has introduced a guacamole substitute made from pistachios and fermented gooseberries, though if you want a less esoteric alternative look no further than your freezer: peas, sour cream and a spritz (technical term) of lemon juice make a decent guacamole-like dip. As for those Instagram posts of smashed avo on toast, if you choose your filter carefully then nobody will know the difference.