Confession of an Avocado Lover
OK, I confess. I committed what locavores—and possibly even the Pope—would consider a mortal sin: I bought an avocado. It came all the way from Mexico, and it wasn’t even organic. If it were organic, maybe my wrongdoing would have been downgraded to a lesser, or venial, sin.
For days, I’d been thinking of avocados. I dreamed of spicing up my sandwiches and savoring the soft buttery fruit on crackers for mid-day snacks. When I saw avocados piled high at the supermarket for $1.99, I couldn’t resist. I grabbed one. I reasoned that it was OK. Yes, yes, yes, I added to the world’s carbon footprint, but I was also doing something incredibly good and just – helping far-off Mexican farmers who grew a crop that we didn’t have in New York.
Then I discovered that the company that sold my tasty avocado – Calavo – was not a Mexican company. Calavo instead was a U.S. company that sourced produce from Mexico and other South American countries. I had no idea how they treated their workers. I checked the company’s Web site to see if they were “fair trade,” a label that attests to a company’s fair treatment of workers. I didn’t see the label. Of course, not having the label doesn’t mean the company didn’t treat its workers fairly. But I couldn’t know for sure.
Suddenly I realized I could be in deeper trouble than I thought. The Pope recently came out with a set of seven new mortal sins. Damaging the environment was one. Another was social injustice, anything that caused poverty or the “accumulation of wealth by a few.”
No, I thought. By buying the tasty treat, I could possibly have double sinned!
I realize that just because I can buy avocados, doesn’t mean I should – for environmental and social reasons. Still, I somehow felt that buying the avocado was harmless. If we’d all have to stick to eating things grown locally, we’d all get bored, and the world and all its wonders would shrink immeasurably. There would be less interaction among nations, less trade, less sharing of food and crops.
Perhaps I should have bought an organic avocado. It would have cost $2.29 at the health food store. Had I sprung for the 30 extra cents, I would have peace of mind that it was grown in a manner that was gentle on the earth. It would have compensated – a little bit – for the fuel spent in getting it here. I’m not sure that it would address any social issues, though. Just because avocados are grown organically doesn’t mean the farmers who planted and harvested them were treated justly.
I think I should get myself to a confessional just in case. “Bless me Father,” I’ll confess, “for I have sinned.”