Culture

These Taquerias Are Trying To Fool Diners With #MockGuac Made From An Ingredient You’d Never Suspect

Few things go together quite like tacos and guacamole. Or really fill in the blank and guacamole. Many of us are totally fine with putting avocado, and it’s condiment hermana, on pretty much anything.

So when news broke that taquerias in Mexico City have been serving more and more fake guacamole – or as we prefer to call it, “mock guac” – we were super incensed. I mean when I’m chomping down on tacos de bistec I expect to taste the rich and creamy topping that is guacamole.

But that tasty pleasure is becoming less and less common across Mexico. The reasons: the gigantic demand, the bad harvests, the Americans, and the drug cartels.

We first learned of this ultimate betrayal thanks to a story by Chilango magazine who released a shocking expose.

Chilango, the magazine that covers all things Mexico City, was the first whistleblower that exposed the breach of avocado security last week. In the article, they reveal that a Twitter user named @Karligrafia was the first to tweet about the scam and become viral for it.

Tacos are staples of Mexico City palates. Thousands, if not millions of residents eat them every day from the thousands of street stalls and restaurants that dot nearly every corner of the capital. And if you can’t trust your taquero…who can you trust?

The country is not only the world’s largest exporter of avocados but also the largest consumer. A Mexican eats, on average, more than seven kilos of avocado.

But it’s not just Mexican demand causing it. The Americans are to blame as well.

Credit: @LATACO / Twitter

Americans’ insatiable appetite for avocado is causing more and more tacos with fake guacamole to be sold in Mexico. Rising demand for the fruit in the US, caused by the craze for brunch dishes such as avocado on toast, as well as a weak crop in California, is increasing demand and forcing prices up in Mexico. 

Last year alone, Mexico sold more than US$2.5 billion worth of avocados to the United States. A greater value than oil exports.

Even the Super Bowl is to blame.

Credit: Warren Brown / YouTube

For the 2019 Super Bowl alone, Mexico exported 120,000 tons of avocado to the United States, says APEAM, the Association of Avocado Producers and Exporters. 20% more than last year.

But it’s also a drug cartel problem.

Credit: @dw_business / Twitter

And now even Mexican drug cartels are involved in the avocado business. In the state of Michoacán, the center of synthetic drug production and, thanks to geographical and climatic conditions, a “paradise” for the cultivation of avocados, drug traffickers extort the peasants, who pay for alleged “protection” or “land use rights” for the cultivation of “green gold.

But even worse: in order to increase the surface area of avocado crops, illegal logging of forests is increasing. Avocados need tons of water. A scarce commodity. And, to top it all, climate change is adding to the problem.

So what exactly is in this #mockguac?

Credit: @IreneMia_EIU / Twitter

Well, as avocado prices have soared, Mexican chefs have had to turn to a cheap and plentiful alternative, the humble calabacita – or Mexican zucchini squash.

Once the squash are boiled up and blended with the rest of the ingredients – green tomato, coriander and chili peppers – and pureed into a creamy, smooth consistency, some culinary experts claim few could tell the difference.

“The scariest part is that it tastes almost exactly like your standard taqueria guacamole: bright, spicy, rich, and very satisfying,” said Javier Cabral, editor of LATaco, a food and culture site and producer of Netflix series, Taco Chronicles. 

This shocking news got us like…

Same child. Same.

Many were surprised that this news of #faceguac wasn’t making bigger headlines around the world!

Credit: @LATACO / Twitter

We are in 100% agreement. I mean this story has everything you need to go big – betrayal, lies, drama.

But at least one Twitter user reminded us that things could be much much worse.

Credit: @LATACO / Twitter

I mean…mayo with guacamole. Noooo thank you. I’ll take a Mexican vegetable substitute any day over this. Although, it’s not totally far fetched. For awhile there were rumors that Chipotle was adding sour cream to it’s guacamole to make it last longer and prevent it from browning too quickly.

In An Effort To Eliminate Food Waste We Will Soon Have Access To Avocados That Stay Fresh For 30 Days

Culture

In An Effort To Eliminate Food Waste We Will Soon Have Access To Avocados That Stay Fresh For 30 Days

Apeel Sciences / YouTube

American demand for avocados is so great—and the supply so precious—that restaurants have had to cut guacamole corners in recent months. Like it’s seriously getting tough out there. 

We’ve got taquerias from LA to Mexico City spreading fake guac (aka mock guac) on our tacos and burritos. While white folk from Australia to the UK are suffering from an epidemic of so-called ‘avocado hand.’ And cartels are killing farmers for their agricultural lands hoping to get in on the avocado boom. 

Avocados have long been a favorite of people around the world but all of us have often shared one common complaint – our lovely avocados spoil way too damn fast. Well, finally, one company is trying to fix that issue and it looks like 30 day avocados could be here in the very near future.

Because every last avocado counts, grocery store chain Kroger has debuted avocados sprayed with a new, plant-based coating designed to keep produce fresh longer.

Credit: Apeel Sciences

Kroger announced this week that the powdered coating comes from a company called Apeel, and when mixed with water and sprayed onto produce, it keeps oxygen out, prolonging the time before the fruit or vegetable spoils. It’s also being applied to asparagus and limes in a small percentage of Kroger stores. The company hopes the longer-lasting produce will eliminate food waste not only in people’s kitchens, but in the stores themselves.

Apeel Sciences has figured out how to extend the salad days of fruits and vegetables — and it’s bringing the technology to the avocado aisle of 1,100 Kroger grocery stores in the US, starting this month. 

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

The extra longevity comes from Apeel‘s special, plant-derived formulation that’s applied — like a second skin — to a variety of produce. The process can double or, in some cases, triple shelf life. The companies expect the partnership to prevent millions of avocados annually from ending up in landfills.

Kroger, the largest grocery retailer in the US, began selling Apeel avocados exclusively in 109 of its stores earlier this year. Because of the resulting reduction in waste, Apeel says its avocados cost the same or less than other avocados. 

A video posted in March compares the lifespans of Apeel fruits and vegetables — including asparagus, tomatoes, strawberries, apples, bananas and limes — with that of their untreated counterparts.

So far, Apeel has developed formulations for about 50 different kinds of produce including apples, artichokes, bananas, beans, blueberries and tomatoes. The company also announced today that it would begin selling limes and asparagus in Kroger’s stores around Cincinnati, Ohio, later this fall. 

Kroger and Apeel both cite lofty aims with their collaboration. Kroger has promoted the initiative under its “Zero Hunger/Zero Waste” program that raises money to mitigate hunger and reduce food waste. In the US, roughly one in eight people struggle with hunger and between 30% and 40% of the food produced is thrown away

There are also environmental benefits.

Credit: Unsplash

Apeel and Kroger expect the partnership to help prevent millions of avocados from ending up in landfills, which should help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. They also predict that the deal will save over one billion gallons of water and help preserve dozens of acres of farmland.

Although not everyone is happy about the idea.

Credit: Fruitnet.com / Screenshot

One Twitter user said: “My issue isn’t that grocery store avocados go bad, it’s that they never ripen at all. I bought a bunch of avocados yesterday and I’m hoping I’ll have ripe ones by Spring.” 

Ok, by Spring? That might be a little dramatic but I think we can all relate. You get to the market and they either have mushy, brown, already spoiled avocados covered in flies or they’re hard as a rock and that delicious guacamole you planned on making tonight to go with those tacos just isn’t happening. 

Tourists Are Flocking To This Tiny Mountain Village For A Trip On Mexico’s Magic Mushrooms

Culture

Tourists Are Flocking To This Tiny Mountain Village For A Trip On Mexico’s Magic Mushrooms

For almost 70 years, since Maria Sabina, also known as Santa Sabina, spread the culture around the ritualistic consumption of magic mushrooms in the Oaxaca highlands, the world has been fascinated by these special fungi. The region near Huautla de Jimenez, particularly places like San Jose del Pacifico, has since been swarmed with tourists in the months between July and October, both from inner Mexico and from overseas, who want to experienced the altered states of consciousness brought by one of nature’s most powerful secrets. 

So any story about Oaxacan magic mushrooms has to start with the legendary Maria Sabina, the godmother of all things trippy.

Credit: Giphy. @Hamiltons

Maria Sabina was a Mazatec curandera, or witchdoctor. She was well versed in the ancient arts of magic mushrooms and introduced the Western world to their consumption. She soon became a magnet for the rich and powerful who wanted to taste her psilocybin mushrooms. She was born in 1894 and died in 1985, so she saw the world change dramatically during her lifetime. 

She allowed foreigners into her healing evenings, known as veladas.

Credit: YouTube / Vice

She became legendary, as City A.M. reported in 2018: “It was here that, in 1955, R Gordon Wasson, a vice-president of JP Morgan and amateur ethnomycologist, consumed psilocybin mushrooms in a ceremony presided over by the healer Maria Sabina. The article Wasson subsequently wrote up for Life magazine – ‘Seeking the Magic Mushroom’ – transformed Sabina into a reluctant icon and caught the attention of scientists including Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary”. What followed is an enduring cult following of the plant. 

Mushroom tourism got a boost in the 1960s due to the high profile of some of Sabina’s visitors, who included The Beatles.

As EFE News Service reported back in 2007: “In the 1960s, the ‘high priestess of the mushrooms’ popularized this corner of Mexico located between the capital and Oaxaca city, a place visited by the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan at the height of the psychedelic era”. We mean, the place has basically been a Hall of Fame! 

Consuming magic mushrooms is an ancient, ritualistic indigenous tradition that remains officially illegal.

Credit: High Times

Spanish friars first reported the use of psychedelic mushrooms in the region. Though magic mushrooms are illegal today, the authorities tend to turn a blind eye. This is due to the centrality to the customs and traditions of the Zapotecs, the area’s dominant indigenous group. Children as young as six participate in the ritualistic ingestion of shrooms.

However, tourism disrupts this long lasting understanding and ritual has turned into business.

Credit: YouTube. Vice

If you decide to try them for yourself, beware as the region is now swarmed with fake magic mushrooms offered by scammers. Anyway, San Jose del Pacifico is a natural joyita in itself, and you might get high just by taking in the landscape!

The state induced by the mushrooms is supposed to get you in touch with nature: with the soil below your feet and the celestial bodies above your head.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous. 

According to man named Andres Garcia, he was introduced to the ritual ingestion of mushrooms by his grandfather. Just outside of Huautla, the man experienced mushrooms several times. He told High Times: “The first time I tried mushrooms I was 7 years old. And each time after that was different; each time there were messages and messages. Communication with the earth, the universe, the moon, especially the energy of the moon. The mushroom shows you everything—about your errors, your problems, all the good you’ve done, all the bad you’ve done. It’s something personal.”

Even though mushrooms are widely available in Oaxaca they are not for everyone, specially not for those who disrespect the ritual and want to do mushrooms just for some mindless fun.

Credit: Musrooms-in-Oaxaca. Digital image. Own Mexico

The magic mushroom tourism industry has brought an steady income to Huautla de Jimenez, the original stomping grounds of Maria Sabina. As reported by Juan Ramon Peña in EFE News Services, “visitors are greeted when they get off the bus by boys who offer to help them found the hallucinogenic fungi”. The wide availability of mushrooms is un secreto a voces. However, each person’s brain chemistry is different and you need to have an experienced guide to help you on a mushroom-induced trip. 

And tourism has put the sustainability of the species at stake.

Credit: User comment on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_XnzIYmUYw

The lack of regulation translates into indiscriminate picking. Of course, traditional owners of the land are affected and that is just not fair. 

Magic mushrooms have a good rep, but they are also unpredictable.

Credit: 2037. Digital image. The Guardian.

Several recent studies indicate that magic mushrooms could have medical benefits in people suffering from mental health issues. As reported by The Guardian earlier this year in relation to a study conducted at Imperial College London: “Magic mushrooms may effectively ‘reset’ the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression, the latest study to highlight the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics suggests”. However, this study was done in a controlled environment. Doing mushrooms can have unpredictable effects that some people have described as a “bad trip”

Note: the consumptions of magic mushrooms is illegal throughout Mexico and only specific Indigenous groups can consume them for spiritual purposes. We do not condone the consumption of illegal substances. This article is for informational purposes only.