Avocado, more referred to as “green gold” by the global market, has become one of the most traded food products today. It has increased in popularity due to its components’ other uses. According to the World Economic Forum, over eleven billion pounds of avocado are bought by consumers every year.
This is a good indicator that the avocado market is thriving. However, while the avocado market is soaring, the environment is negatively affected. This is one of the downsides of growing avocadoes. To grow a single kilogram of avocados, producers must use at least 2,000 liters of water. Simultaneously, companies need to clear forests as demand increases to make space for avocado plantations. These two factors have convinced a researcher based in London to devise an innovative way to lessen the need to produce avocadoes.
Researcher and designer Arina Shokouhi developed an eco-friendly version of the avocado. Shokouhi called it the “Ecovocado.” With her new creation, Shokouhi hopes it would encourage consumers to lessen the purchase of ‘real avocadoes’ in the market – considering the negative consequence of its production on the environment.
“It can be actually a positive solution, and we should just embrace it because we know that we can’t carry on living like this,” said Shokouhi.
Meet the Ecovocado
Consumers cannot easily distinguish the Ecovocado at first glance. The product is made with beeswax and natural food coloring made from spinach and charcoal powders, which copy the skin of an avocado.
The meat of the Ecovocado is carefully selected so it can mimic the taste and color of an actual avocado. According to the product maker, the Ecovocado meat comprises broad beans, apples, cold-pressed rapeseed oil, and a hazelnut sprinkle. For the pit, Shokouhi used a whole chestnut or hazelnut.
The product results from the Material Futures master’s degree that Shokouhi took up at the Central Saint Martins art school. She collaborated with Jack Wallman, a food scientist at the University of Nottingham. Having studied the molecular properties of avocados, Wallman helped Shokouhi finish the Ecovocado. The researchers said that the process was painstaking, and it took them almost eight months to complete the recipe.
“(The) choice of ingredients was very limited, to begin with, because I want it to be 100% local. That was my first priority,” she added.
There were earlier recipe considerations like garden peas and broccoli. However, the taste of the ingredients did not result well, so she had to drop it. The consideration was from Shokouhi’s vision to use locally-produced goods as the main ingredients. They settled with broad beans since it was easy to grow, and the UK has an abundance of broad beans produced each year – about 740,000 metric tons harvested every year.
At first, the result was a bitter taste. But it took them a while to balance the ingredients. It is a challenge to create a perfect alternative avocado substitute, said Wallman and Shokouhi.
Ecovocado might not measure up to the real one
The Ecovocado is a promising product. However, other experts in the field see a problematic side of the product. According to Dr. Wayne Martindale, an associate professor of food insights and sustainability at the University of Lincoln in the UK, the Ecovocado might not become a viable alternative to an actual avocado.
Dr. Martindale considers the properties of the by-products of a natural avocado which can be used to produce cutlery and lubricants, and other valuable products. Further, he said that the environmental issue surrounding the avocado trade should not focus on the production process but on moderation from authorities.
Even with this, Shokouhi hopes that people will consider Ecovocado.
“The taste maybe is not 100% exactly like avocado, but that doesn’t matter as an alternative as long as you can have it on your sourdough, and it tastes good, and it looks the same, and it’s healthy,” she said.