Avocado mania is creating yet another alarming side effect: It looks like Mexican farmers are now illegally destroying thousands of acres of their country’s pine forests so they can expand their orchards and feed this out-of-control demand (which by now stretches around the globe). Avocados yield higher profits than just about any other crop in that part of Mexico — lucrative enough, previous reports have noted, to draw drug gangs into Michoacán, the nation’s top-producing state. Federal authorities say it’s devolved into a “cat-and-mouse” game with farmers; they’re hard to catch because they plant their saplings under the canopy, then only gradually cut back trees as the avocado plants grow and need more sunlight. “Sooner or later,” though, one official warns the AP, “they’ll cut down the pines completely.”
Worse still, an orchard of mature avocado trees requires almost twice the water used by even a fairly dense forest. Naturally, Greenpeace isn’t a fan of this, arguing that, beyond simple deforestation, these farmers are also flooding the areas with tons of chemicals that “could have negative effects on the area’s environment and the well-being of its inhabitants”; plus, now there is a crap-load of heavy trucks choking the region’s tiny two-lane roads.
Oh, and there’s this: It turns out Michoacán’s forests are where monarch butterflies migrate for the winter, so your last bowl of guac or piece of avocado toast may give a bunch of these beloved creatures one less place to nest come October.