The Reason Mexican Avocado Farmers Have Assault Rifles

It seems like something out of a middling SNL sketch from 2017: armed guards standing watch over bumper avocado crops, protecting their harvest with deadly force when necessary to ensure that brunch-happy millennials will never be able to afford a home

It's a strange, semi-dystopian truth: avocado farmers in Mexico have taken to guarding their fields with full-on military grade weaponry. How did it come to this? Is it really worth all the hassle for just 40% of your daily recommended amount of dietary fiber per serving? 

If you ask the farmers, the answer is probably "yes." They refer to avocados as "green gold," since the superfood has become a $2.4 billion industry in recent years, according to an article in the Miami Herald. That's the sort of money you can't make selling most illegal goods, let alone socially acceptable bean dip toppers. Combine that kind of money with Mexico's tumultuous legal climate and you can probably see where this is going.

Mess with these avocados and you're toast

Guards and farmers have listed off a number of new problems that have accompanied the avocado boom's economic upsides. There have been kidnappings, extortion, and straightforward avocado thefts, often by the hands of members of rival cartels. Then, in August of 2019, a USDA inspection crew was reportedly robbed at gunpoint, leading to the agency threatening to shut down its services in the event of future problems. If that were to happen, regions dependent on the produce would lose the financial stability they only relatively recently achieved with 1997's lift on the U.S. import of Mexican avocados. 

Hipolito Mora, a lime and avocado grower and self defense enthusiast, was quoted in the Miami Herald as saying "If the business owners were to close their plants, the region's economy would come crashing down." So farmers are taking any threats to their jade colored payday seriously enough that they're arming themselves. They are running the risk of becoming "avocado toast" just so others can enjoy the morning fog-clearing capabilities of avocados on toast. Think about that the next time you're about to complain about paying an extra buck fifty for guac