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A Michelin-starred chef says restaurants should stop serving avocados because they're 'the blood diamonds of Mexico'

Rachel Hosie
  • The avocado is one of the trendiest foods of the moment.
  • But a Michelin-starred chef said that the fruits are "the blood diamonds of Mexico" and that they're "akin to battery chickens," which are hens kept in cages their whole lives.
  • The comments come at a time when an increasing number of restaurants are removing avocados from their menus because of environmental concerns.

Avocados: a healthy source of fats, a brunch staple, and, apparently, the reason millennials will never get on the property ladder.

But according to a Michelin-starred chef, there's a dark side to avocados.

Top Irish chef JP McMahon, who owns Michelin-starred restaurants Aniar and Tartare, said that avocados are "the blood diamonds of Mexico" and that restaurants should stop serving them.

"I don't use them because of the impact they have on the countries that they are coming from - deforestation in Chile, violence in Mexico," he told the Irish Independent.

"For me, they are akin to battery chickens [hens kept in cages all their lives]. I think Irish restaurants should make a conscious effort to not use avocados or at least reduce the amount they use. You can get fair trade avocados, but most are not produced this way."

Avocado

McMahon is imploring not just restaurants but also the public to stop eating them.

"Change won't happen unless consumers avoid them," he continued. "We don't use any in our restaurants. There are plenty of alternatives. We have Jerusalem artichokes (as an alternative to avocados) with hollandaise in our brunch menu in Tartare at the moment."

Read more: There are a number of simple signs you should look out for when picking the perfect avocado

Despite the fact that the avocado is one of the trendiest foods of the moment - there are restaurants dedicated to the fruit both in New York (Avocaderia) and London (Avobar) - an increasing number of eateries have removed the so-called superfood from their menus in recent months.

Wild Strawberry Cafe in Buckinghamshire, England, for example, last week announced it would no longer serve avocados.

"The Western world's obsession with avocado has been placing unprecedented demand on avocado farmers, pushing up prices to the point where there are even reports of Mexican drug cartels controlling lucrative exports," the cafe wrote on its Instagram page.

"Forests are being thinned out to make way for avocado plantations. Intensive farming on this scale contributes to greenhouse emmisions [sic] by its very nature & places pressure on local water supplies."

Avocado toast.

Similarly, Paul Warburton, the owner of Franks Canteen in north London, told INSIDER the restaurant doesn't serve avocados mainly for environmental reasons. "It takes so much water to grow them, and also chopping down trees," he said.

Keeping the menu local and seasonal is important to Warburton. "We try and stay seasonal," he added. "How are avocados seasonal to north London?"

What's more, Warburton believes the fruit is now "boring." "Every café in the world sells them," he said. "Yawn."

However, not everyone is convinced that we need to stop eating our beloved avocados immediately. Some restaurateurs say that there are lots of foods, from beef to almonds, that are not always produced sustainably.

"I don't think we should get too distracted by some cafés that may be banning it," said Dan Crossley, the executive director of English charity Food Ethics Council.

"It does raise interesting and important questions on where we get our food from … but I don't think a wide-scale ban of any particular product will solve the problems we have."