Avocados have officially stolen our hearts – and mouths, but have you ever wondered where they come from? Just like their taste, avocados have a rich history.
Mesoamericans were said to have made avocados a staple in their diet from as long as 10,000 years ago. It wasn’t until 5,000 years ago when the fruit was first cultivated and domesticated by the Mayans. Many are now aware that avocados are considered a fruit, but what they don’t know is that avocados are botanically considered a berry with their large, single seed.
The avocado was praised among the indigenous for its abundance of nutritional benefits as well as what they believed were “mythological powers”. Tribes such as the Aztecs were convinced that when one consumed an avocado, they were also awarded the power of strength. Centuries later, the avocado made its way across the Atlantic and into the hands of Spanish explorers who then introduced it to other countries where it became popularized.
You might be surprised to know that there are a multitude of avocado varieties other than the Hass. Wilson Popenoe can be mainly accredited to the popularization of the avocado in the US. Popenoe brought over several types of avocados to Florida from Guatemala, including one that is now named the “Popenoe” avocado. This type of avocado is known for its large, bizarre shape, which is why it became unpopular among commercial producers and how the Hass avocado became the leading avocado type in America.
Photos from the California Avocado Society
You also might be wondering why it took so many centuries for the avocado craze to hit North America. The fruit faced backlash from the American public due to its reputation for being an aphrodisiac, which developed because of its unusual pear shape and abundance of nutrients essential to sexual health. Around 30 years later, avocados experienced more backlash due to the obsession with low-fat foods among Americans.
Avocados have gone through an unbelievable journey facing multiple setbacks but are now one of the most consumed fruits in the US. Avocado consumption has tripled since the year 2000, making the count reach 8 pounds per person. Today, the US accounts for nearly 79% of avocados exported from Mexico, and we fully expect that percentage to keep climbing.
The Popenoe Avocado