Although it seems like avocados are a recent obsession of ours, people have been eating them for an estimated 10,000 years. So even though a perfected guacamole recipe is something to be proud of, it’s not an entirely novel concept. Our love for avocados is really a long-term relationship — researchers believe that people were cultivating avocados in Mexico around 500 B.C.
What’s in a Name?
The word avocado originally comes from the ancient Nahuatl (or Aztec) word “ahuacatl.” Spanish explorers in the 16th century incorrectly referred to the fruit as “aguacate,” and even George Washington took his own twist on the name referring to them as “agovago pears.” Finally, we settled on “avocado” in 1696 when Irish naturalist Sir Hans Sloane mentioned the plant in a catalogue of Jamaican plants. His less popular name for it was an “alligator pear tree” probably because of the rigid alligator-like skin.
Avocado Infatuation in the USA
Despite their history in South America, it took a long time until avocados really took off in the United States. It began in Florida in 1833 when a horticulturist named Henry Perrine planted avocados in the sunshine state, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that they became a commercial crop. Florida, California and Hawaii really headed off the avocado craze in the states, and by the 1950s there were about 25 varieties of avocados in production. The Fuerte variety reigned supreme as more than two-thirds of production until large-scale production and new transportation methods gave the Hass variety a leading edge — which it still holds today. Although Mexico pumps out the most avocados worldwide, California holds the throne as our nation’s leading producer of domestic avocados.
Why It’s a Nutritious and Flexible Fruit
Avocados are a great source of B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium. They also have higher fat content than most fruit, so they’re great for vegetarians or vegans who don’t get their fat from meat, fish or dairy. And although it started as a popular salad ingredient in the 1950s, we’ve since discovered so many other amazing and delicious ways to use this fruit in our cuisine.
Bust out your inner chef with a few of these creative ways to incorporate more avocado in your life:
What’s your take on avocados? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Not sure where you stand? Let us know in the comments!