World Avocado Organisation blasts 'hypocritical' restaurants for ditching fruit menus

The head of the World Avocado Organisation has slammed a group of British chefs as 'hypocrites' for removing the millennial-loved fruit from their menus while still using ingredients that he claims are worse for the environment

Xavier Equihua, the CEO of the WAO said that trendy restaurants are ditching the once popular snack - a key indigent for guacamole - and making alternatives with the likes of fava beans, which he claims takes almost 10 times the water needed to produce per kilo.

It comes as Wahaca - the biggest Mexican chain in the UK - introduced a fava bean 'Wahacamole' on its menu. Created by co-founder Thomasina Miers in response to the environmental and social damage that avocados can cause, the dish uses locally-grown organic fava beans.

On one hand, growing fava beans takes slightly more water per kilo than avocados, and the WAO claims that new farming methods can reduce the amount of water needed per kilo to grow the food by around 1,400 litres.

That said, fava beans can be grown in the UK, and therefore the carbon footprint from transporting them is less.

However, speaking to FEMAIL Dr Jim Scown, Farming Transition Lead for the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission said that it's best to get locally-grown vegetables.

'Avocados are a mainstay of plant-based diets in the UK, but are mostly grown thousands of miles away. It's understandably a thorny issue for anyone wanting to pursue a sustainable diet.

'There's no easy answer: it's not just a question of less and better meat, but also more, and better, UK-grown fruit and vegetables, nuts and pulses.

'Government needs to support farmers and growers to produce food in a way that uses less water, supports an abundance of species, and produces fewer greenhouse gases while helping to capture and store carbon.

'The latest Farming for Change research shows that it's possible to do this, and feed everyone in the UK healthy, affordable food.'

Wahaca's move to reduce avocado from its menu follows a group of independent cafes in the UK which have ditched avocados altogether.

Speaking to Femail, Xavier claimed avocados have a 'small water footprint' and ditching meat is a much better move for the environment.

'It is comical to see how these few London-based chefs propose to eliminate or substitute avocados with other products as is the case with the 'fake' guacamole made with a product that requires the equivalent of almost 10 times more litres of water to produce a kilo of avocados,' he explained.

'It is equally difficult to understand how they can talk negatively about a product with such a small water footprint when their menus are full of products that require thousands and thousands of litres of water to produce a single kilo.

'If they really wanted to be allies of the environment they would stop serving meat and dairy products and only serve products with a water footprint like avocados or less'.

He added the 'hypocrisy does not stop with the fake guacamole' as the chefs also keep 'dozens of ingredients on their menus with a much larger water footprint than the avocado'.

Recently there's been a backlash against the fruit due to it's harmful impact of the environment.

The labour to make avocados is very water intensive - with some studies stating a kilo of avocados requires 2000 litres of water to grow.

However, in recent years, the global avocado industry has managed to produce avocados with less water using an average of 600 litres of water, while for popular foods such as rice, pork or chicken, this amount rises to 4,000, 4,300 and 6,000 litres respectively, according to studies by the Water Footprint Network.

While avocados have also been branded bad for the environment, the surging popularity has lead to it being linked with water shortages, human rights abuses, illegal deforestation, ecosystem destruction and general environmental devastation in Mexico.

The problems that come from the West's trendy fascination with avocados have a lot to do with geography. Some 40 per cent come from Mexico and almost all of that is grown in the rural western state of Michoacan.

The region's fertile volcanic soil and temperate climate allow avocados to be harvested all year round (in other countries they can only be harvested in summer). The rich soil means the notoriously thirsty avocado trees need only a third as much water as they do elsewhere.

Mexico's avocado industry is also accused of damaging the health of locals with the chemicals sprayed on the orchards. Experts are concerned that the fumigation of the trees is behind growing breathing and stomach problems, and may be polluting water supplies.

A Mexican government study concluded that soaring avocado production has caused a loss of biodiversity, environmental pollution and soil erosion. It has also damaged the natural water cycle and threatened the survival of animal species only found in the area.

Source: Daily Mail