Why One of Seattle's Best Brunch Spots is [Gasp!] Giving Up Avocado

The Fat Hen weighs in on the avocado shortage—and why we should abstain.
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Sadly, the beloved avocado toast at the Fat Hen is no more.

We are so damn lucky to live in Washington. Berries can be picked off the freeway pull out, our forests are full of wild mushrooms, apples drip from backyard trees. But we do not have the climate it takes to grown avocados—and for that, we rely on our neighbors to the south.

But as it turns out, California hasn’t had the climate to grow avocadoes this year either. Wholesale prices are about double what they usually are, thanks to the years-long drought and subsequent extreme heat the state experienced. Last year wasn't much better, but the aftereffects of this perfect storm (hello, climate change) are now finding their way to our Seattle-area grocery stores and avocado toast purveyors.

On Friday, The Fat Hen (a personal favorite for baked eggs and coffee on a rainy weekday morning, and one of our 2015 picks for Food We Love) in Ballard took to Instagram to share that everyone’s preferred green superfood was off the menu—for now. Their reasoning is a smart reminder that we should all know where our food comes from.

From @thefathen:

"It's true: We have removed avocados from our menu for the time being. Please read the below comment for information on the current issues involving the avocado trade.

"California: This years major avocado crop shortage in the Golden State is beginning to inflate domestic costs and is increasing demands for import of the fruit from Mexico and Peru. Avocado harvests in California are down almost 50% from last year thanks to extreme heat and aftereffects from the drought, according to the California Avocado Commission.

"Mexico: Mexico provides over 75% of the avocados in the US market. Such is the size of the avocado market that it has become a lucrative business for Mexico’s drug cartels who are responsible for countless kidnappings, extortions, and murders in relation to the avocado trade. 

"Beyond alleged criminal activity, avocado farming has had massive negative effects on Mexican land. As Talia Coria, an official in Mexico’s attorney general's office for environmental protection recently told the Associated Press, deforestation due to avocado farming is dire. Coria told the AP that between 30 to 40 percent—between 15,000 to 20,000 acres—of Michoacán's annual forest loss is caused by avocado farming.

"Nafta: Americans are used to buying whatever fruits and vegetables they want whenever they want them, thanks largely to imports from Mexico. This could soon end up effecting more than just avocados.

"If you think prices are unpredictable now, be warned: They could get a whole lot worse depending upon how the Trump administration renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement. #nafta #avocadoshortage #informyourself #shoplocal #beinformed #foodforthought #supportlocal"

When will it be back? Hard to tell. But you should go support The Fat Hen, and order the toast with housemade ricotta and jam instead.

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