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Confessions of an Avocado Pusher
By George Bamber



Ten Frequently Asked Questions
About Avocados


1. Are those the stringy kind?
If they are Zutanos, yes. Otherwise, probably not.

2. Do Bacons taste like bacon?
Bacons are a sweet-tasting avocado. Most varieties were named after the man who patented them. The Fuerte was so named because it was the only avocado tree in a grove to survive a severe winter in Riverside. Fuerte is Spanish for strong. Mr. Hass got lucky. Mr. Bacon, did not.

3. Can I grow a Hass from the seed?
The odds are real long against it, although that’s where all new varieties come from, planting seeds and seeing what happens. All avocado trees are patented and grafted. All Hass started from one tree. We pay a couple of dollars royalty to the patent holder every time we graft or plant his variety of tree. If you find a variety you like, you will be time and money ahead to go to a nursery, order a sapling in the variety you like, plant it, water it, and in three years start harvesting the avocados you like.

4. Why isn't the avocado tree in my back yard producing any fruit?
Check the watering first. Ninety percent of avocado production is water. We put 300 gallons of water on each one of our trees every week. Your tree might be getting old. A lot of backyard trees in the greater Los Angeles area are more than 50 years old. Also avocado trees will bear heavily one year and rest the next. Other than that, I don’t know.

5. Should I put the pit in the guacamole to keep it from going brown?
In my experience, it doesn’t make that much difference. My wife disagrees with me. The brown on guacamole is only from oxidation of the oil. It won’t hurt you. You can either stir it in or skim it off, depending on your preference. Some people say lemon prevents browning. It takes a lot of lemon, but too much lemon changes the taste, unacceptably for me.

6. Do avocados have the good kind of oil or the bad kind of oil?
The good kind: monounsaturated fat. The bad kind generally comes from animal sources. The avocado is America’s answer to the Mediterranean’s olive. Eating more monounsaturated fat, studies show, often benefits people with heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

7. Do avocados have many calories from fat?
Absolutely. One 8-ounce avocado has 400 calories. And 80 percent of them are from oil.

8. Will avocados make me fat?
Absolutely not. In ten years of pushing avocados, two of my skinniest customers -- and I mean skinny -- would buy a week’s supply, 20 and 30 avocados at a time. They knew more about selecting perfect avocados than I did. They were fruitarians and since avocados are a fruit, and not a vegetable, they qualify. These two different men depended on avocados for the fat, protein, and most of the minerals in their diets. What they did not eat, I tell my customers, is what kept them skinny. They did not eat cakes, pies, candies, scotch whiskey, beer, ice cream cones, steaks and spaghetti. We’re talking skinny here.

9. Do you use pesticides?
No. For a long time we had no avocado pests in North San Diego County, so there was no need for insecticides. The last couple of years we’ve gotten Persea mites, which suck the sap out of the leaves, making them die and fall off, exposing the fruit to sunburn. But it is too expensive to spray the trees and not very effective, plus the fruit loss has not proved to be that great. We have used biological controls in the form of Anmnectan, predator mites, but I don’t find them to be that effective either.

10. What’s the difference between all these avocados?
Size and personality. Some are funnier than others. Talk to a couple and find out.

Copyright 1997 Seasonal Chef