Awesome Avo’s

Avocados growing from trees; F*#@ing brilliant idea! I admit I am the first one to roll my eyes when I hear people demonstrate idiocy about knowing where their food comes from. I have had occasion to smile more than once upon over hearing comments about the mysterious origins of such things as eggplant and cauliflower. Earlier this year, I experienced a great deal of mirth explaining to one of my good friends how garlic is grown after fielding her best guess that it was harvested from a bush. So, I’d like to think that all this teasing is in good fun. I really only make fun of people that I like, so yes count yourself lucky if you take the brunt of a joke one day. I think most people do this, too, they tend to give people that they like a hard time. What else could account for the merciless teasing exchanged between my brothers and I when we were little kids? Pure love.

So, back to the avocados, I guess somewhere in the back of my head I had some idea of how they were grown. I mean, I definitely didn’t have visions of avocado bushes, or lush plants hiding a bounty of potato-like avocado fruit under the soil. But, that being said, the first time I spied one of Diedre’s massive avocado trees laden with brilliant green fruit, my eyes must have been the size of dinner plates. Having just purchased their land, (including this small avocado orchard), Diedre and her husband Rob were still trying to figure out how (or if) this crop could perhaps be profitable for them. They live in a region called The Bay of Plenty (how romantic souding, eh?), where a magazine article tells me that 56% of all New Zealand’s avocados hail from (Nourish Magazine, Issue #5, summer 2011-2012). The issue with avocados, like many crops, is that once a few people start doing well financially many others rush in and start producing, which floods the market, driving prices down. Sound familiar? Wine grapes anyone? The other issue with avocados is that they crop on an unbalanced two year cycle (or biannually) with a bumper crop one year followed by a meek showing. This is all well and good, natural in fact, except that most every grower is on the same cycle with the same varieties. Thus: a bumper year which floods the market with cheap fruit occilates with a year of low crop production and high prices. Talk about feast or famine. The solution to this cycle of stress for growers: some growers are trying to prune their trees into a different fruiting pattern. Rob was explaining to me how there is a theory where you can prune a tree very heavily on half the tree so that you get a good fruit set on the unpruned half for your normal season. Then, the next season the heavily pruned side will fruit heavily when other growers are having a light cropping year. This is very labor intensive and therefore expensive, somewhat of a gamble if you will. I have to say I am glad that my only interest in avocados right now is eating them.

And eating them is what I planned to do. The day after my evening epiphany about avocados growing on trees, i went back out to the orchard to take Diedre up on her, “help yourself” offer of avocados. If anyone had seen the behavior that followed, I’m sure I would have received a good, sound making fun of. Not knowing how to pick an avocado, or what was an “ripe” avocado on the tree, I proceeded walk around a tree giving each avocado I encountered the old super market squeeze-for-ripeness test. I found nothing but hard and decidedly not ripe fruit. After wandering around for a bit, I somewhat hopefully picked a few lacrosse ball solid fruits thinking if I was lucky they might ripen up while I was still in the country. Heck, I didn’t even know if avocados were in season or if they had a season. I later learned from a different magazine article that avocados are in season year round but peak season for avocados differs by variety; the Hass is at its best October-March and the Reed variety (another common New Zealand variety) is best from February-June (Cuisine Magazine September 2010). I admittedly was disappointed, having expected to feast on avocados non-stop for the next couple of days and kind of hung my head as I trudged back toward the house. As I walking, eyes on the ground, I spied a sweet sight: a beautiful forest green avocado (just the color I had learned to associate with ripe avo’s in store displays) lying on the ground. I begin to study the ground harder and picking my way through the leaf cover started to find more of these fallen treasures–some half pecked at by birds–but all a deep green with just enough give to proclaim ripeness and good eatin’. I also learned, after the fact, from the Cuisine article that avocados are picked, “ripe” but don’t mature to what we think of as ripe until they are off the tree.

Even after a week of eating sliced avo’s at almost every meal or dipping into the perpetual batch of guacamole I had going, I still LOVE these things! And I’ve really loved learning about how they’re grown. Next thing to learn about is kiwi fruit cultivation. Did you know that kiwi fruit “trees” actually look more like vines and are trellised much like you would see wine grapes trellised?

p.s. Another fun avocado fact: The Nourish magazine article says that, “the guinness book of world records lists avocados as the most nutritionally complete fruit in the world.” Whatever that means.



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ange
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 04:38:22

    Avocados and kiwis- add them to the list of things that also grow in California! Aren’t avocados from CA? Like right where Andi is from 🙂 And there are lots of kiwis in Newcastle, about 30 miles from here, haha. Just enjoying giving you a hard time for leaving and being stoked on things that are also in CA… out of pure love!

    Sounds like an awesome time, Leda! Miss you!



  2. al
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 14:04:12

    Haha I am glad that you were finally able to discover the bounty of edible avocados–that would have been cruel if you had been teased by trees full of hard, un-ripe avocados! Your post got me thinking about where/how certain things are grown…I’ll tell you what I am thinking of specifically in an email so you can make fun of me 🙂 In my defense, I DID know that avocados were grown on trees!



  3. Jesse H.
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 00:50:31

    Plenty of avacados here in California. Once again your writtings have spurred thoughts. Enjoy them while they last.



  4. todays date
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 10:57:40

    i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.



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