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Plants, People, and the Environment, Research Paper Example

Pages: 3

Words: 891

Research Paper

Introduction

Avocado (Persea americana) is a fruit originated from the Americas. It belongs to the Lauraceae family and Perseal genus (Mooz et al. 274).

It is one of the super-fruits generally used in salads, vegetable meals, and side dishes. Avocados are harvested between June and February. While many people think it is a green vegetable, it is a fruit, therefore, it does have the same ripening process as other fruits. The below review will cover the nutritional information, history of the fruit, and the main aspects of consumption and harvest.HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Avocados have been harvested for thousands of years in Central America, and there are records showing the presence of the fruit tree dating back 7000 years. By the early 1800-s avocados became widespread in the Mediterranean regions of Europe, and in Asia. The first avocado tree was imported by Dr Thomas White to California in 1856, and by the 1870-s, the avocado industry in the state was established (Harvest of the Month, 2).

Growing Avocadoes

Avocados grow on trees, which can reach a height of 65 feet. They can be grown from seeds, and they are biennial bearing (Harvest of the Month, 3). They prefer loose sandy loam. They also require warm temperatures and loads of moisture. The fruit is currently being harvested by hand, using extended clippers. The avocados that can be found in the supermarket’s shelves are often picked unripe, as they will ripen on the shelf. Normally, the fruit ripens after falling off the tree. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (6), an adult tree produces 80-100 kg of fruit each year. Young trees (1-4 years old) produce less fruit. While an orchard is able to deliver fruit all year, the maximum period of production is October to January. The maximum production of an individual tree is reached around the age of 12.

The largest producer of Avocados in the world is Mexico, and Brazil is on the third place. The United States currently produces 6 percent of the world’s avocados (Harvest of the Month). The main varieties harvested are Pellejo, Grande, Verde, and Hass (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

Avocados are prone to fungal infection, and harvest can be damaged by frost and chilling (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). Post-harvest care is important as well, and mechanical damage needs to be avoided by protecting the surface of the fruit.

USE

Simonne et al. (2) state that avocados are widely used for main meals, appetizers, drinks, seafood dishes, and salads. It is widely used in Mexican dishes. The fruit has a large seed inside, and 70 percent of the total weight is the edible pulp. Avocados need to be peeled and sliced, and are often consumed raw. One of the main problems with storing the fruit is that –  like other fruits, for example bananas –  it goes brown after slicing, due to increased oxidation. Simonne et al. recommend pouring fresh lemon or lime juice on the exposed areas to avoid the fruit turning brown. Around 45 percent of households in the United States buy avocados in the supermarket, according to the Harvest of the Month website.

Avocados are best served on room temperature (Simonne et al). Cooking them on high temperature would make them turn bitter. Avocados can also be frozen, however, they might turn watery, in particular if they are frozen as a puree. Avocados can be stored in the refrigerator’s bottom drawer.

While avocados are edible, they are also widely used in the cosmetics industry, and many companies create avocado paste as a ready to use ingredient for meals. Preservation of the fruit, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is problematic for many reasons: freezing decreases microbial activities, heat treatment deactivates enzymes, and changes the flavor. Therefore, avocados are best consumed fresh.

Nutritional Value

One of the main benefits of eating Avocados, according to Mooz et al is the high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (Mooz et al). The fruit is also rich in Vitamin A. The main nutritional ingredients listed by Mooz et al for a hundred grams of Avocado pulp are as followed: “6.94 g of carbohydrates, 17.34 g of fat, 2.08 g of proteins, 2.72 g of fibers” (Mooz et al. 275).

The Harvest of the Month website also provides a list of beneficial nutrition found in avocados, such as Omega 3, Omega 6, Vitamins E and K, thiamin, iron, potassium, niacin, magnesium, and riboflavin. All the above minerals and vitamins are considered to be beneficial for cell regeneration and healthy circulation.

Conclusion

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2), “the inclusion of avocado in the everyday diet can bring health benefits to the health of human beings”. Increasing production in countries where the climate and soil is suitable for establishing orchards would be beneficial. However, being a seasonal and climate-sensitive plant, avocados are still considered to be tropical and exotic fruits.

Works Cited

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Avocado: Post-Harvest Operation. 2004. Web.

Harvest of the Month. Exploring California Avocados. n.d.  Web.

Mooz, E., Gaino, N., Shimano, M., Amancio, R. and Spoto, M.  Physical and chemical characterization of the pulp of different varieties of avocado targeting oil extraction potential.  Ciência e Tecnologia de Alimentos. 2012.  Print.

Simonne, A., Bobroff, L., Cooper, A., Porier, S., Murphy, M., Oswald, M. and Procise, C. South Florida Tropicals: Avocado  2013. Web.

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