Chefs are giving up avocados on menus. Is the trend over?

In 2008, in my last year of college, my friend and I decided to make brunch. We went the extra mile to Whole Foods, buying organic eggs, crispy bread, and thickening bacon, all to make a kind of open-faced sandwich. The resistant piece was a thin layer of mashed and salted avocado between the bread and the eggs. I’m not saying I invented avocado toast, but for us and our friends (none of whom grew up with avocados), it was new.

That modernity, which many people across the country experienced at the time, turned into an obsession. The avocado has become a metaphor for the entire millennial aesthetic. Chefs opened only avocado restaurants. The avocado shortage has become news as the nation is concerned about where it will get heart-healthy fats. Finally, with avocado toast popping up at Starbucks and Dunkin’, the enthusiasm waned. Which is why it’s so hard to take chefs seriously when they say they’re throwing out avocados because their cultivation isn’t sustainable. Sure, but it’s also just part of everyone’s diet now. Avocado is a normal food.

We’ve learned more things about avocados in the past 13 years since I wowed my friends with the sparkling innovation of avocados and eggs, and not only is it solely responsible for millennials’ low home ownership rates. According to the Sustainable Food Fund, the popularity of avocados in North America and Europe is responsible for the crop’s massive carbon footprint, with most avocados still grown in Central and South America. Increased agriculture has increased productivity “at the expense of the environment, and there have been accusations of deforestation associated with the expansion of farms, which has negatively affected biodiversity.” Its popularity has also meant that people in Central and South America, for whom avocado has long been a staple food, have difficulty accessing it.

Which is why some chefs say they eliminate avocados from their menu. Thomasina Miers, co-founder of the UK restaurant chain Wahaca, told guardian She switched from avocados to beans as the basis for her guacamole dip because avocados “are in such global demand that they have become unsustainable for the indigenous people in the areas where they are grown.” The guardian Talk to other chefs who have used peas, senchuki, zucchini, and pistachios as substitutes for avocados. This is what happens when “exotic food becomes normal without thinking about the consequences,” says Tim Lange, professor of food policy at City, University of London.


The key is there, however, he is That avocado has become completely natural. Obviously, it’s great that more chefs are thinking about the environmental impact of their menu choices, and are thinking more about sourcing local and seasonal produce even if it’s not “authentic” for the cuisine they’re making. But that would have happened anyway. Avocado toast isn’t a destination worthy dish anymore, because by the time it appears on the menu at Dunkin’, the trend is over.

Chefs may have been able to phase out avocados from their menus without much fanfare, but nods toward sustainability have also become their own trend, whether it’s Eleven Madison Park avoiding meat (except in the rich steak room) because it’s unsustainable, fast food chains embracing vegetarian meat, or Brands that pledge to net zero emissions by 2050. It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also good to see businesses making that choice. And of course, we can’t tell what’s in the hearts of any chef. Perhaps Daniel Hamm wants to nurture a new era of sustainable vegetarian cooking. Or maybe the vegetables are cheaper than the heritage duck, and he’s found a way to orchestrate a cost-cutting measure in his favour. Or maybe it’s a bit of both!

Either way, avocados aren’t a surprise on the menu anymore. They have been woven into the culinary fabric of the West as the spices pumpkin, sriracha, and turmeric. It’s the foodie skinny jeans, trusted if not trendy anymore. Which is honestly great. Instead of bearing the weight of chasing our collective trends, avocados can now revert back to being just a food. I hope you rest well.