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A new variety of avocado could help us reduce food waste

To reduce avocado waste and also minimise the impact of their cultivation, the University of California has spent half a century working on a new variety

Published: Aug 12, 2023 09:16:02 AM IST
Updated: Aug 11, 2023 12:24:11 PM IST

A new variety of avocado could help us reduce food wasteA new variety of avocado, called Luna, turns black when ripe. Image: Shutterstock

Many an avocado has been thrown in the garbage can when the skin goes totally black and hard! Of course, overripe avocados can still be used in purees or guacamole provided the flesh doesn't show signs of rotting. But in the aim to reduce avocado waste and also minimize the impact of their cultivation, the University of California has spent half a century working on a new variety.

The production of avocados has a large ecological impact to say the least. Growing them requires about 1,000 liters of water to produce just one kilogram of fruit. Added to this hefty energy bill is the cost of transportation, as cargo ships transport tons of avocados, carefully contained in an environment maintained at 6°C to prevent ripening. Last summer, Arina Shokouhi, a student at one of London's prestigious art and design schools, worked on a stunning prototype for her final year project, reproducing everything we know about an avocado, including the green flesh, using only mashed beans, rapeseed and potatoes. The peel, meanwhile, was created with biodegradable wax. It was dubbed the Ecovado.

While the environmental issues associated with growing avocados are well known, many of us still underestimate their cost to the planet because we haven't factored in the parameter of waste. How many times have you bought a rock-solid avocado that ended up in the garbage just a few days later because it had become overripe? One way to reduce the environmental impact of avocado production is to help consumers better identify when they can eat them. And for this, color is the best clue.

Also read: Would you pay the 'true' climate cost for food?

The new Luna avocado

Generally, the variety of avocado that you slice up and add to a poke bowl or mash up into a spread for avocado toast is the "Hass," the world's leading variety. Dark in color, its skin can turn completely black without being rotten. And therein lies the problem. This dark color leads many consumers to throw it in the garbage, believing it to be fully past its prime. In the United States, the University of California (located in the state with the country's largest avocado production numbers), has just developed a brand new variety. Over the last 50 years, Californian researchers have carried out tree breeding and tests on thousands of plantations to finally obtain a completely new type of avocado with a green color that leaves no doubt as to its lack of maturity. In its official announcement, the University of Riverside explains: "it's called the Luna and offers consumers great flavor, a rind that turns a tell-tale black when ripe, and high postharvest quality."

The cultivation of this new variety of avocado is also expected to have less impact on the planet. The Luna grows on smaller trees, planted more densely in smaller spaces. Unfortunately, the release doesn't say whether this new avocado still needs as much water to grow. Nevertheless, it is in the process of being patented, and dozens of growers outside the United States have already applied to plant it...