Why I Hate Avocados

Posted On February 16, 2008

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Comments Dropped 3 responses

I woke up at 4:30 AM today eagerly anticipating our freight shipment, which contains the bulk of our cold weather gear (my down coat, our goggles, our snowmobiling and safety gear…) and all of our scientific equipment. I drank three cups of coffee to garner the energy to haul all 16 boxes to the research station and the field site. Then, about 10:00 AM, I heard the bad news…

The Air Inuit cargo people in Montreal bumped our shipment in favor of 1500 kg of AVOCADOS!!!!!  Avocados, people! Someone actually decided that it was more important that 1500 kg of avocados reach the Nunavik region – a collection of fourteen isolated Inuit communities in northern Quebec (of which this is the southernmost) than our scientific equipment and outdoor gear. 

Where’s the Avocado Festival? I want to be airlifted in!

So, full of coffee and angst, I started to ponder the following:

a. Who introduced avocados to the Inuit diet, and how important are they?

b. So much for the local foods movement!  Just how far have these avocados travelled anyway? Are these native avocados from Mexico, Central America or Guam, cultivated avocados from California or Florida, or hothouse avocados grown somewhere in the Northeast U.S.? Am I the only one questioning the cost to the environment of transporting 1500 kg of subtropical fruit, in this case about 3000 avocados, a minimum of 4500 miles across the North American continent? I can’t imagine what an avocado costs here, but I am going to find out!

c. Is the Nunavik market clamouring for avocados, or is this supply side driven? Did you know that after the NAFTA (Northern American Free Trade Agreement) treaty was signed in 1994, there was an avocado-related trade war? At issue was the danger of importing fruit flies to the U.S. along with the avocados. As a solution, the Mexican government proposed to sell avocados only to the northeastern U.S. in the winter (fruit flies cannot withstand extreme cold). The U.S. government accepted this arrangement only when the Mexican government threatened to block imports of U.S. corn. I kid you not! Look it up! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avocado#Avocado-related_trade_war

I have begged the cook, Ginette, not to served anything containing avocados. If she does, I think I will weep.

With no freight to unload, Helen and I decided to burn off our frustration by walking up the frozen river 10 km to the rapids, and back. The Great Whale River is about half mile wide where it joins the bay, and the ice is flat there and very thick. We followed snowmobile tracks up the river as far as we could. About 8 km upriver, they begin to hug the shore. Here, the ice on the river, which is covered with several feet of snow, is warped into great rolling dunes. A bit further on, we reached a point where there was open water in the middle of the river, and the ice around it was only about 2 inches thick. Beyond this we could see great expanses of open water, with steam rising off it. We’re told there’s a waterfall a bit farther upstream and we may return sometime to hike up the shore to it.

steam_off_river.png

The snow on the river had been piled into enormous drifts, all covered by a crust about 1 inch thick. When we were lucky, we were able to walk on the crust. When we broke through though, we found ourselves wading through snow up to our knees, and in some places our hips. To make this even more fun, the snow hid the cracks in the ice below. (No, there was no open water showing.) Some cracks have opened to 6 inches or even a foot in width, so occasionally we found ourselves lurching into a crack and a sudden change in snow depth. I got my boot stuck in a crack at one point, and thereafter we took to warning one another to, “Mind the Gap,” whenever the person breaking trail found one.

I’m still laughing.

 rachel_in_sun.png

So is Helen.

helen_021508.png

——————-

Thank you to all of you who have left comments, especially ‘My Greatest Accomplishment in Life’, Theo. Don’t worry, I am being careful!

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3 Responses to “Why I Hate Avocados”

  1. Mama Bear

    Well, shoot, how do you expect the Inuit to eat their tacos without guacamole? Just think, if it were two months later, wouldn’t the Cinco de Mayo festival in Kuujjarivik would be a complete flop without guacamole? Gee whiz.

  2. Nicola

    Perhaps blame Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s
    Urban Inuit Diabetes Awareness and Prevention Web-site
    http://www.inuitdiabetes.ca/reduce-risk-weight-loss.html for advocating avocados as a source of healthy fat.
    Randomly, the word avocado comes from the Aztec Nahautl word, “ahuacatl” meaning testicle (with thanks to Google for that snippet). I have two avocados in my fridge at home and I’m not sure I can eat them without feeling guilt over your delayed equipment.
    Love the blog, it makes me laugh. You and Helen sound like you’re having a great time (better than sitting in the Icebreaker drinking mediocre tea!).

  3. doctorrachel

    I think together my Mother and Nicola have shed some light on this mystery. Perhaps the Diabetes Prevention Association has teamed up with Betty Crocker to develop the Inuit market for avocados, because Sunday I found a small section of the grocery containing Old El Paso Mexican food products!!! I guess they DO eat guacamole here! I think I will conduct an informal and very unscientific survey. First I must find out the French and Inuit words for guacamole…

    Thanks Nicola, after your comment on the etymology of the word avocado, I have even less desire to eat them!

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