This Trade Agreement Made Avocados More Common In The US

Avocados are found in many dishes from avocado toast to tableside guacamole. They are so popular that images of them can be found everywhere from happy plush toys to playful men's socks.  The love of the fruit is apparent in how it's become such a mainstay in American pop culture. This wouldn't have seemed possible a few decades ago.

While avocados have become commonplace on menus throughout the United States in the 21st century, they weren't embraced by Americans until the 1950s when it was used as a salad ingredient, according to Avocados From Mexico. The fruit, also known as an alligator pear, began to be harvested by people living in south central Mexico about 10,000 years ago, according to Avocados From Mexico. It wasn't until the 1830s that avocados began to be eaten in the U.S. with farmers in California, Hawaii, and Florida first growing the fruit, according to the site.

At first, Americans were skeptical about the fruit because it was viewed as an aphrodisiac, reports Avoca'Do, due to its pear shape and that the nutrients it contains are important for sexual health.  In fact, its original name, ahuacate, means testicles in the language of the indigenous Nahua people (via Reader's Digest). 

After the name was changed to avocado by a group of farmers who became known as the California Avocado Association, the fruit began to enter mainstream culture, per NPR.

Reaching its full potential

There was still one more thing holding the avocado back from reaching its full potential: lack of supply.

It wasn't until 1994 when a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect so that avocados and other produce items were allowed to be imported more easily from Mexico into the United States. This is when avocados received more widespread distribution throughout the year, according to Vox

During the early 1990s, American-grown avocados still primarily filled the bins at grocery stores, but that has since greatly changed. Vox reported that during the first part of the 1990s, none of the avocados for sale in the U.S. were from Mexico. However, now they account for about 50% of the fruit consumed in the country. Avocados From Mexico states that 79% of avocados exported from Mexico make their way to the United States.

Whether you enjoy slathering creamy avocado on your toast or adding it to your smoothie (or maybe even want to dress your baby in a "Let's Avocuddle" onesie), enjoy this fruit and its fascinating history.