Culture

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

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. 

Avocado Hand Is Sending People To The ER In Record Numbers And Abuelas Everywhere Are Left Asking Why

Culture

Avocado Hand Is Sending People To The ER In Record Numbers And Abuelas Everywhere Are Left Asking Why

First, avocados were blamed for preventing millennials from buying homes. Then they were used as fake grenades in bank robberies. Now they’re responsible for thousands of emergency room visits each year – victims of so-called avocado hand. You may not have heard of this medical condition, but you or someone you know has almost certainly been affected by it.

Meryl Streep may have been the first known victim. But a new report tells us that there are thousands just like her out there. Thousands of clueless people who are just to eager to dig into that tasty avocado.

Yes, avocado hand is real and it’s sending thousands of people to the emergency room each year.

Yes, folks, it’s true. Approximately 8,900 emergency room visits in 2018 could be directly tied to avocados. Researchers came to that conclusion after finding 152 mentions of avocados in the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s national injury database, which covers 96 hospitals, and then asking the agency to extrapolate that information to estimate the number of ER visits nationwide.

Nearly all of those visits were due to lacerations and injuries to hands and fingers, caused while cutting avocados — although there was at least one instance of someone slipping off of a stool while picking avocados as well.

According to an analysis by Insider, over 70% of the injuries were sustained by women, and, in cases where race was reported, 80% of injuries were sustained by white people. The oldest person to visit the ER for an avocado-related laceration was 75, and the youngest was 8. Most of those hurt by avocados were, in fact, millennials. 

“A lot of times folks will try to remove the avocado pit with a carving knife or have their fingers wrapped around the avocado while they’re cutting. Both of those techniques could lead to a bad cut and a trip to the ER,” Joe Galbo, the CPSC’s social media specialist, told INSIDER.

Like think about that for a second. People are ruining their avocado toast and going to the ER on a daily basis.

The US’s estimated 8,900 avocado-related hospital visits in 2018 would equate to more than 160 per week, and approximately 24 per day nationwide. Come on people! Are you serious?

And, well, those of us who grew up eating avocado are just left like…WTF?

Yes, exactly. That’s the exact look I had when I heard about this so-called avocado hand epidemic.

And if we thought things were bad enough here in the US, they’re even worse across the pond in the UK.

Avocados have been deemed a danger to the public before. In 2017, British reports described an epidemic of “avocado hand” after London surgeons told The Times that they were treating a growing number of patients who had accidentally sliced into their hands while cutting avocados at home.

Also, apparently people in the UK call seeds stones and like…why?!

Renowned British chef Jamie Oliver is even getting in on the what we thought was common sense PSA.

Staff at a London hospital have reportedly become accustomed to the “post-brunch surge”, while the affliction even claimed the high-profile hands of Meryl Streep seven years ago.

Twitter is just full of people posting their shameful, dangerous injuries caused by this luscious fruit.

This is absolutely real. Just hop on Twitter for yourself and you will see literally thousands of examples. There’s even a webpage dedicated to graphic images of the injury and a relevant hashtag (#avocadohand).

OK, so admittedly not everyone grew up eating avocados so I can kind of see how people may not know how to properly cut an avocado.

But still…why would you slam a knife into something that is in the middle of your hand? Like you don’t do that. That’s just common sense!

And because of how common the injury is, Twitter is also full of people offering up tips on how to enjoy an avocado – safely.

So how do you not become a statistic? The gist of it is as follows: Place the avocado on a cutting board, and slice it on the diameter, turning as you go. Then rotate it 90 degrees, and make the exact same cut, turning the avocado as you slice it around the center. The avocado naturally falls apart into even wedges at this point, and you can remove the pit with your hand—no knife required.

And, apparently, there’s even a helpful new tool for those who are still totally clueless.

A group of schoolchildren in Brighton College in the United Kingdom, the Telegraph reported on Wednesday, may have found yet another fix. It’s an instrument called the “Avogo,” a hooked blade cast from pewter.

You jut the blade directly into the top of the fruit, searing its skin and flesh as your hand circumnavigates the surface. You take the two halves apart and then affix the hook to the stone, removing the seed from the cavity as you pull the fruit away from your body.

Sounds kind of complicated but, hey, safety first!

Mexican Cartels Are Turning To Avocados And Innocent People Are Falling Victim To Extreme Violence

Things That Matter

Mexican Cartels Are Turning To Avocados And Innocent People Are Falling Victim To Extreme Violence

Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación en el Estado de México #Edomex

When someone mentions Mexican cartels, we immediately think of drug trafficking. It’s inevitable – especially after the strict diet of cop shows we’ve ingested over the years. But what if we told you that there’s something else that’s probably just as valuable to the Mexican cartels? Something that, in their minds, justified the killing of 19 people last week. Something like … avocados?

Guacamole is good, but not that good.

Instagram / @duascontrauma

Sure, when you said to your amigas the other day that you’d kill for some good guac, you probably weren’t thinking on this scale. Thursday morning saw the residents of Mexico’s Uruapan awaken to the aftermath of a massacre. Nine semi-naked bodies had been strung across an overpass. Another seven bodies, which had suffered a combination of dismemberment and decapitation, were discovered underneath a nearby pedestrian bridge. And, three other bodies were unceremoniously piled on the side of the road. All of the victims were found with gunshot wounds.

The city of Uruapan is ground zero for this new outbreak of violence.

Instagram / @viviana.falcon1

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) took credit for the grisly scene by hanging a banner on the bridge where the bodies were found, warning locals of a similar fate, should they think about helping the gang’s rivals. “Kind people, go on with your routine. Be patriotic, and kill a Viagra,” the banner read. And no – they weren’t talking about a certain pleasure enhancer. One of the CJNG’s most notorious rivals are the Viagras gang.

But where do the avocados come into the story?

Instagram / @avocado.aj

While some authorities have connected the gruesome killings to the region’s drug trade, one International Crisis Group researcher, Falko Ernst, has suggested that there may be more to it. “The big magnet here is avocados,” said Ernst in an interview with the Guardian. The murders were intended to intimidate not only Mexican authorities, but also rival gangs and their families. The aim was to discourage their involvement in both the drugs and avocado trade.

With soaring prices, avocados have become big business in Mexico.

Instagram / @hassdiamond

It’s understandable why anyone would want a piece of the avocado pie, so to speak. It’s the lifeblood of Latinos and avocado-toast toting millennials worldwide, which makes it big business. Mexico itself produces 45 percent of the world’s avocados. The state of Michoacán, where Uruapan can be found, is where most of the avocados within Mexico are produced. In fact, Michoacán’s avocado industry is worth about $1.5 billion. Chances are its value is only going to increase, since the world’s supply of avocados is currently at a low.

This is wild! How are the locals coping?

Instagram / @viajaxmichoacan

At this point in time, there are three main groups struggling for control of the city of Uruapan. These are the Knight Templar cartel, Los Viagras, and of course, the CJNG. This means that it can be risky for locals to work in the industry, who may get caught in the crossfire between the gangs as they battle it out for control of the avocado supply. As many as four avocado trucks are stolen every day, presumably by the cartels operating in the region. It’s gotten so out of hand that the area’s avocado companies appealed to the gangs through an ad in a June edition of the local paper, saying, “It’s impossible to continue taking these losses … failing to stop the theft of these trucks will have an irreparable impact on the avocado industry.”

Locals are dealing with all sorts of violence, extortion, threats, and worse.

Instagram / @avocado.aj

Aside from stolen trucks and products, locals also have to contend with CJNG-linked extortion. A local tequila producer, Eduardo Pérez, closed his business in 2015, as he was unable to keep up with the cartel’s monthly payment demands. “They warned me that if I didn’t pay, then I’d be in trouble,” Perez said in an interview with VICE. That’s the reality of living in an area where gangs like the CJNG operate – and these recent murders have done nothing to quell any tensions in the area.

Brutal killing sprees like those that happened last week were designed to get as much attention as possible, and serve as a warning to anyone and everyone that the CJNG is unafraid of retaliating against people who would threaten their illicit activities. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that there’s some relief for the locals, soon.