November 1st, 2011 The oldest evidence of avocados is from a cave in Puabla, Mexico, dating from 10,000 BCE. Their existence in Europe was first recorded in Europe in 1519 by a Spanish navigator and geographer. Avocado trees are native to Central Mexico and are classified in the same family as cinnamon, camphor, and bay laurel. Avocado trees are evergreens and can grow up to 65 ft. high. The avocado fruit (botanically a berry, and generally considered a vegetable) is the commercially valuable part of the tree. Avocados are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates. They produce a green-skinned, pear-shaped fruit that ripens after harvesting. Avocados are sometimes called Alligator Pear because of their dark green, leather-like skin. In parts of India, the avocado is called Butter Fruit. The Aztecs thought of the avocado as a fertility fruit. A ripe avocado is slightly soft but should not have dark sunken spots or cracks. Avocados with a slight neck (rather than being rounded on top) will have better flavour because they’re tree ripened. Avocados will ripen in a paper bag or fruit basket in a couple days. After they are ripe, you can refrigerate avocados for up to a week. If storing half an avocado, sprinkle with lemon juice and wrap tightly in plastic wrap to avoid browning. Avocados are used in both savoury and sweet dishes and are popular in vegetarian cuisine as a substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads. Avocados are generally eaten raw, though some can be cooked ever-so-slightly (with the skin off). Avocados are best known for their key role in guacamole. They are frequently used in milkshakes, ice creams, and other deserts. In Brazil, avocados are most often eaten in sweet dishes; savoury avocado dishes are considered exotic. In Australia and New Zealand, you can find avocado in sandwiches, sushi, on toast, or with chicken. In Peru, avocados are consumed like mayonnaise. The Chilean version of a Caesar salad contains large slices of avocado. With a rich, buttery taste and smooth, creamy texture, avocados are a real treat. Luckily, they’re also very good for you! They’re packed with carotenoids that work as antioxidants and help you absorb fat-soluble nutrients in other foods; they contain both soluble and insoluble fibre as well as oleic acid, a fat that activates your brain to make you feel full and helps lower cholesterol; and they are good for your hart and high in folate. Buying avocados from a fair trade coop helps small farmers to maintain their farms and support themselves, their families, and their communities by providing a guaranteed market and a minimum price above the world market price.