IFC: The Street of Green Gold

In the last few weeks of exploring the names of the streets in the old part of Puerto Vallarta we have found that almost all of them have been named after heroes of Mexican history. This week’s street is the one that is due east of Calle Insurgentes and is named after a famous fruit, the avocado; it’s Calle Aguacate.

Some say that the origin of the word aguacate harks back to days of yore when the Aztecs looked at these oval fruit that grow in pairs (not pears)  and named them in honour of the the testicle or, in their Nahuatl language, “ahuacatl”. The Aztecs must have been magnificent men!

Apparently the agaucate is a fruit, not a vegetable and is, in fact, a berry. It is considered a fruit because it has fleshy pulp and a seed, like a cherry, and fits all of the botanical criteria for a berry. So next time when you’re presented with the opportunity to have an avocado smoothie, look at it as a fruit and take a chance. Be more open to eating avocados as desserts and not just in the ubiquitous guacamole or soup.

For starters, try this recipe for a morning after the night before…A Kiwi Avocado Smoothie with Lime and Honey. Blend 1/2 perfectly ripe, large avocado, two  kiwis (peeled), cup lime juice, ¼ cup almond milk or coconut milk, (just enough to get the blender going),1-2 tablespoons honey or agave to taste and 2-3 ice cubes. Blend these ingredients together, sip, lay back and relax.  Aaaah!

Not only do avocados taste good but also they are good for you. Did you know that an avocado fights free radicals (no darling, not those liberals supporting Bernie), contain an excellent source of carotenoid lutein, which helps to protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, they have anti-inflammatory properties and their acids fight against both prostate and breast cancers. What a fruit!

Good for the person and financially good for the country! Mexico reaps huge financial rewards from the cultivation and export of avocados and they are known as the Green Gold of Mexico. The Association of Producers and Packers Exporters of Avocado of Mexico say that their organization generates an annual economic gain for the country of approximately 2.5 billion USD. That’s a lot of cash! Mexican avocados are eaten in about 30 countries, and Mexico produces 80% of the avocados consumed in the United States. That’s the good news.

 However, the state of Michoacán, in which avocado production is a prime industry, has paid a very high cost for its cultivation. For several years, the sowing of the fruit has led to the deforestation of thousands of hectares of pine and oak forests and, in many cases, the producers cause forest fires and then plant avocado trees in the devastated land. Another risk for the villagers below the avocado orchards is that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, used to boost production, leach into streams and rivers and cause serious health problems downstream.

Then there are problems caused by the green gold industry generating truckloads of cash. The narcos known as the Knights Templar, have muscled into the avocado industry in Michoacan. Through its contacts in the state government, the cartel obtained detailed information about each avocado grower and how much money they made, then imposed a “tax” of ten cents per pound produced and $100 USD for each hectare of land they owned. Growers who expressed reluctance to pay were “persuaded” by violent attacks on them or their family. Just like much of life, we have to take the good with the bad. It’s the yin and the yang.

Calle Aguacate runs for eight blocks south from the Rio Cuale and contains some good restaurants, Mexican stores and homes. It’s a bit away from the beaten tracks of Basilio Badillo and Insurgentes but is well worth a visit. My favourite restaurant is Los Lirios, which serves great seafood at reasonable prices to diners sitting in the shade of a huge tree on the sidewalk.

Here’s a recipe for chocolate mousse that will keep you cool while fighting those free radicals. It takes five minutes to make.  Collect two ripe avocados, half a cup of cocoa, about a quarter a cup of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla and, maybe, some honey. Blend, chill, serve and accept the applause of your guests!

John Warren on Email
John Warren
John Warren is in charge of Publicity for the International Friendship Club (IFC). His articles describe the programs and charities that IFC supports, the sources of income of IFC and the social experiences, lectures and classes that members can enjoy.