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Hass Avocados: History, Nutrition and More
Hass Avocado Grove
A LIttle History
Avocado trees have been part of the Western world agricultural landscape since long before European settlers came to America. However, Avocados were first grown commercially in the United States in the early 1830s. Today avocados are grown as a business in Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and California. Internationally the United States ranks seventh in commercial avocado production with 205 MT (metric tons). Mexico is the leading world producer with 1,264 MT followed by Chile with 368 MT and the Dominican Republic with 295MT.
In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) opened the door for, Mexico to export avocados to the US market. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) quickly objected claiming the avocados would bring in the Tephritidae fruit flies that could decimate California's crops. The Mexican government asked the USDA inspectors to come to Mexico for a firsthand look at the fruit fly free farms, but the U.S. turned down the invitation, asserting that fruit fly inspection was not practical. After several diplomatic punches and counter-punches, the US gave in when Mexico began placing restrictions on the US's ability to export to Mexico.
Hass Avocado Halved
The avocado is a cultigen, a plant that has been deliberately altered or selected by humans. It is a domesticated, but no one is positive about its origin. Most researchers are fairly certain that it originated somewhere in south central Mexico. Martin Fernandez De Encisco is credited with the first writings on the avocado when he wrote in 1519 “. . . that which it contains is like butter and is of marvelous flavor, so good and pleasing to the palate that it is a marvelous thing."
Later, around 1540, another European used the Aztec name aguacate which became the most popular Spanish name. Other common names of the earlier periods included Alligator pear, which is probably drawn from the dark green, alligator-like scaly, dark peel. Midshipman's butter was a common name used by sailors, based on the color and texture of the healthy avocados they took to sea. Other regions of Central and South Americas had different names; e.g., the Incas called it palta.
Advantages To Shorter Trees
Every time an avocado seed is planted, you can be assured that the resulting tree will be very different from the parent tree. Each seed carries the characteristics of the cross-pollination of the parent tree. As a result, the fruit will be different in appearance and taste from the tree from the parent tree. This is how new types of avocados are created. There are thousands of named varieties of avocados but, there are only a small number of varieties being grown commercially today, the main one being the Hass avocado.
There are currently three significant types of the avocado trees from a horticultural viewpoint. By far, the Mexican version is the most prevalent. In the US, South Florida, Texas, and California are the largest producers of Avocados. In these areas, Avocado trees are also popular as landscaping. Trees can grow from 20-to 40 feet in height and due to their aggressive root structure, should be planted over 15 feet apart and a minimum of 8 feet from the side of any building or home.
The trees require good drainage and do not like standing water or regular flooding. In spite of those restrictions, avocado trees thrive with a lot of water, as much as 1 inch of water per week from rainfall or an adequate irrigation system. A soil pH below 6.2 will produce the possibility of root rot.
The avocado has had to overcome a bad rap health-wise. Now that we have more information on fatty acids—both good and bad—the avocado has come into favor as a healthy heart food. Michael Goran, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Suggests that chicken and tuna salads would be much healthier if you dropped the mayonnaise and added avocado. He points out that avocados are higher in the good kinds of monounsaturated fatty acids with the added benefit that they are also low in saturated fat.
Avocados can be a healthy part of your diet notwithstanding the fact that roughly 85-percent of the calories in an avocado are fat, That's because the avocado fat is predominately the essential healthy fats including polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats. These well-known healthy fats help your body fight inflammation. They also keep your appetite in check between meals because they stabilize blood-sugar levels. And, they work to help lower your risk of heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol. Avocados are also full of fiber, magnesium, and vitamin K. With all these healthy advantages and the fact that avocados are a tasty and versatile fruit that you can serve and enjoy in a variety of ways should make them a necessity for your next trip to the market.
According to the Haas Avocado Board in Irvine, California, a standard serving of avocado is roughly 1 oz. of avocado. a medium sized avocado has five servings. One-fifth of that medium avocado has approximately 50 calories and nearly 20 vitamins and minerals making it an excellent nutrient choice.
The alternative Green Avocado or Florida Avacado is larger and has a smooth, shiny green skin. There is also a nutritional difference: When you consume a Florida avocado, you’ll get more calories than with a Hass avocado due to its size. What you need no know is that one cup of a Florida avocado has 276 calories and 23 grams of fat compared to 384 calories and 35 grams of fat with the Hass avocado.
Technically, the avocado is a berry. Unlike any other berry you can think of, it’s not sweet or inviting to eat while still on the branch. The name avocado comes from the Aztec word ahuacatl, which means “testicle,” so named because avocados typically grow in pairs and hang heavy on the tree. Spanish conquistadors came to call them aguacate, a name that was further bastardized by English speakers (a young George Washington wrote in 1751 of the popularity of “agovago pears” in Barbados); once exported back to Spain, they became known as Abogado, a word that meant “advocate” or “lawyer.” The avocado fruit became a staple in Central and South America but didn’t land in California until the 1850s, when an avocado tree was imported from Nicaragua by a private citizen as a botanical curiosity.