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Ecovado Aims To Be The Sustainable Alternative To Avocados

by Rudy Sanchez on 07/25/2022 | 3 Minute Read

Avocados are delicious. The creamy fruit is not only tasty but packed with nutrients like monosaturated fats (those “good fats” we always hear about), vitamins B6, B9 (folate), C, E, and K1. 

Unfortunately, those pesky millennials are paying far more than money for those avocado toasts, and the guacamole requirement isn't the most eco-friendly option in the produce aisle. Now, a sustainable alternative might be on the horizon for consumers—the Ecovado. The innovative product takes local ingredients and turns them into a close-enough approximation of the beloved fruit.

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For the most part, the delicate fruit is grown far away from popular markets in Europe and the US, and one study found that two small avocados had the equivalent carbon footprint of two pounds of bananas in the UK. That's because the production of avocados requires a lot of water. In California, a state that constantly experiences drought conditions, a pound of avocados requires over 74 gallons of water; a pound of tomatoes, another fruit featured in guacamole, requires just 10.8 gallons of water.

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Editorial photograph

Some might even call avocados as addictive as drugs, which wouldn’t be the only thing gator pears and cocaine have in common. The lucrative avocado exporting business in Mexico has attracted the attention of the drug cartels. In the state of Michoacan, rival organizations use violence against each other (link contains graphic images), avocado farmers, and even US plant inspectors to control and profit from the trading of alligator pears.

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Given the negatives of avocado consumption, some inventive chefs have been playing with different ingredients to approximate the popular avocado-based guacamole. Restaurant chain Wahaca, for example, uses fava beans in its avocado-free recipe, and Chef Donatella Aparia’s “zuccamole” relies on zucchini instead. But multidisciplinary designer Arina Shokouhi has gone one step further with the Ecovado, reinventing the avocado itself, “packaging” and all.

Shokouhi worked with scientist Jack Wallman from the University of Nottingham's Food Innovation Centre to identify the chemical components in avocados and what locally available, low-impact crops could get utilized to recreate the genuine avocado experience. Primary ingredients include broad beans, apples, hazelnuts, and rapeseed oil, all of which can be sourced locally in the UK. Additionally, other parts of the world can adapt similar ingredients to make their version of Ecovado, substituting rapeseed oil for locally-sourced olive oil, for example.

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Like bananas, an avocado comes wrapped in its own packaging, and Shokouhi went to work creating a durable and sustainable outer skin for the Ecovado. It uses wax to protect the fleshy insides made from beans, fruit, and oil. The wax takes on an avocado’s leathery finish, and they landed on the dark green hue by using spinach and charcoal. What's more, the wax-based skin can be upcycled and employed to package other food or can be used to make a candle. It's also biodegradable and compostable.

For the Ecovado pit, Shokouhi kept it simple, using walnuts and hazelnuts, rather than formulate something new. And that makes for a nice post-not-an-avocado snack, as you can consume either nut.

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More sustainable alternatives to food staples like dairy milk and meat often attempt to recreate with the highest degree of fidelity possible while looking nothing like their inspiration. Ecovado reimages the avocado while retaining its signature appearance, texture, and even packaging. However, Shokouhi hopes to improve upon reality by creating a sustainable alternative that's even good enough to go on expensive toast.


Images courtesy of Ecovado.

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