Next station: Ostentatious guacamole

Next station: ostentatious guacamole

Huge advertisements for the organization Les Avocats du México are currently displayed on several floors of the Berri-UQAM station. While this undeniably nutritious fruit makes excellent guacamole or veggie club sandwiches, several ecological and social issues have been raised in recent years about its production, particularly in Mexico. 

You should first know that the STM is not responsible for the advertising content in its facilities, so it has not taken note of the issues related to this advertising campaign. 

It’s rather its commercial subsidiary Transgesco, as well as Astral Media,’which authorize the large billboards that jump out at us when exiting the cars. Questioned by Métro, Transgesco preferred not to not comment on this partnership.  
So we contacted Mexico Lawyers. 

First, who are they? 

The Lawyers of Mexico is a private non-profit organization that ensures the development of the international market and the quality control of lawyers.
This organization made itself known in 2015, among other things. by investing $1 million for an advertisement broadcast during the Super Bowl. It is also increasingly visible in Canada, as last year it became an official partner of the National Bank Open tennis tournament and made Canadian player, Leylah Fernandez, their new ambassador.  ; 

According to figures from the Lawyers of Mexico: 

– The organization represents more than 30,000 producers and 75 packers in 48 municipalities in the state of Michoacán;
– In 2022, 2.3M tonnes of avocados were produced in Mexico, representing almost a third of global production (Mexico produced 1.6 M tonnes in 2015);
 &nbsp ;
– Canada is the second largest importer of Mexican avocados, after the United States, with an estimated 100,000 tons of avocados annually. 

Issues ecological 

According to available studies, 1000 liters of water are needed to obtain one kilo of avocados. In comparison, it takes 180 liters of water to grow a kilo of tomatoes and 130 for a kilo of lettuce. 

If this water consumption is well known according to the analyst in healthy food autonomy of Équiterre, Carole-Anne Lapierre, the most important impact of the avocado would be its contribution to the destruction of pine forests in the Mexican region. of Michoacán.  

“The demand [for avocados] has risen so quickly that we have cut down, even set fires to clear large spaces to be able to grow monocultures” , she says. 

Monoculture production attracts diseases and pests, so pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used, explains the analyst, which has a negative impact on waterways, wildlife and biodiversity. 

“In Mexico, the majority of plantations are irrigated by nature […] it is not a problem unlike other countries”, retorts the marketing director of Avocados from Mexico in the International market, Miguel Barcenas, in interview with Metro

The volcanic soil allowing a natural filtration of the water, 70% of the producers do not have irrigation systems and benefit from the rainy season and the lakes and rivers, specifies the organization.  

Recalling that Mexico is the “homeland” of the avocado, Miguel Barcenas also indicates that the Avocados of Mexico has a reforestation program, affirming that more than 2.6M of pines and avocado trees have been planted since 2011.

Despite this, for the researcher at the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS), Colin Pratte, this type of culture is not viable in the medium term. “Under various scenarios of global temperature increase and greenhouse gas emissions, Mexico could lose 20-30% of the areas suitable for avocado cultivation by 2050.”  

Threats and extortion 

This “green gold” would also arouse the greed of organized crime, explains Carole-Anne Lapierre. 

“We knows that organized crime is racketeering, that is to say, put pressure on small farmers or small avocado producers to have a share of the profits.” 

The New York Post reported in February 2022 that the import of avocados from Mexico has been temporarily banned in the United States, after a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) inspector working in Michoacán received a Telephone threat from a Mexican drug cartel.  

“[Organized crime] is a national security problem that does not only affect the production of avocados”, explains the director general of the Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers (APEAM), Armando López Orduña, specifying at the same time breathes that if they work jointly with the Mexican state, the solution “depends totally on the government”. 

“We are more victims than creators [of this problem]”, adds Miguel Barcenas . 

The latter adds that their organization has made “strong commitments” to preserve the safety of their workers and their partners and that “everything is done in the right way”.  

“You can focus on what the government does or how people organize their production there, but what drives this production model is demand. which is growing and which is fueled by advertising [Editor’s note: from the STM, in particular]”, replies Carole-Anne Lapierre. 

The important thing is that the population makes informed choices, she argues, “which advertising does not allow in this case”.  

Next station: ostentatious guacamole

Photo: Jason Paré, Metro

Advertising Ethics

If the Avocats du México campaign aims to convey that avocados are not only good at guacamole, one question remains, should the STM allow this type of advertising in its facilities when ecological and social issues are at stake? raised, regardless of the product? 

For Carol-Anne Lapierre, we should ask more questions about the impact of advertising in general on consumer choice. 

“It would be a reflection that would be interesting to have and perhaps to highlight [at the STM]”, suggests Carole-Anne Lapierre. 

For Colin Pratte, the Avocados of Mexico ad sells culinary practices that are doomed to disappear in the not-so-distant future.  

“From a public transit company, we could have expected better with regard to the choice of accepted advertisements”, maintains the researcher, drawing a parallel with the promotion of the Grand Prix in the metro each summer, an event which is in contradiction with its mission to transport the population without emitting too many greenhouse gases. 

If he wants this kind of display to disappear from the metro or to be more transparent about its ecological and social consequences, the IRIS researcher supposes that the underfunding of the transport company by Quebec makes it less scrupulous in terms of advertising. 

“When the STM is reduced to announcing the most recent telephone or the latest clothing fashion to make ends meet, how can you not see a sign of chronic underfunding of public transit?» 

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