() — The avocado, known as “green gold”, has increased in popularity in recent years. According to the World Economic Forum, they are consumed annually about 5,000 tons of this fruit throughout the world.
However, our love for avocados comes at a significant cost to the environment: growing just one kilo of avocados requires approximately 2,000 liters of water and forests are being cut down to make room for the avocados.
That’s why London-based researcher and designer Arina Shokouhi decided to develop an eco-friendly alternative to avocado: the ‘Ecovado’, which she hopes will inspire consumers to think twice before slicing the fruit for breakfast toast or pureeing the next batch. of guacamole
“It can actually be a positive solution and we should adopt it because we know we can’t continue living like this,” says Shokouhi.
A “green” design
At first glance, you can’t tell an Ecovado from a real avocado. the Ecovado is indistinguishable from the real thing. Made with beeswax and natural food colors with spinach and charcoal powders, the skin of the Ecovado mimics the peel of an avocado. The meat of the alternative fruit is made with four simple ingredients: fava beans for a base, apple for freshness, cold-pressed canola oil for creaminess, and a dash of hazelnut. For the bone or seed, a whole chestnut or hazelnut is used.
The Ecovado was developed as part of Shokouhi’s Material Futures master’s degree at Central Saint Martins art school. Having dreamed up the concept at the end of his first year, he collaborated with University of Nottingham scientist Jack Wallman, who had studied the molecular properties of avocados to understand what gives them their creamy texture. It took eight months to perfect the recipe, says Shokouhi.
Creating a sustainable and attractive avocado substitute was a challenge.
“The choice of ingredients was very limited to begin with because I wanted it to be 100% local. That was my first priority,” says Shokouhi, adding that he calls this the “British” version.
Shokohui wanted the Evoked offer health and environmental benefits that entails the consumption of locally sourced foods.
Peas and broccoli were early candidates for the recipe, Shokouhi says, but their local production was scarce. Fava beans are the basis of the Ecovado and are relatively easy to grow; in the United Kingdom about 740,000 tons year.
However, broad beans are molecularly different from avocados and masking their “bitter smell” was difficult, he says. In the end, Wallman and his team found a way to balance the ingredients and create a compelling alternative to avocado.
Although sticking to local ingredients and emphasizing plant-based diets is key to reducing carbon emissions, sustainable food production also intersects with complex issues such as land use, ethical sourcing and labor rights, says the Dr. Wayne Martindale, Associate Professor of Food Literacy and Sustainability at the University of Lincoln in the UK.
Advances in data collection and blockchain technology in the past decade have made it easier to track and record the many facets of food production, he says. Martindale signals the initiative “Responsible Commodities Facility”, adopted in 2021 as a commitment to zero deforestation soy cultivation in Brazil. Certification benefits farmers financially while offering guarantees to customers.
Martindale believes the same could be done for avocados, because “people want to know that those avocados have been grown on responsibly managed land.”
His team is investigating the uses of avocado by-products, including recyclable cutlery made from avocado pits and the oils from the peel and pulp for use in lubricants and foods.
Rather than skip imported fruits and vegetables altogether, Martindale believes moderation is a step in the right direction. Shokouhi’s Ecovado shows “incredible creativity,” he says, but wonders if the product can be scaled up to become a viable alternative to imported avocados.
Since graduating, Shokouhi’s product has piqued the interest of potential investors, he says. Although he is still perfecting the Ecovado, he hopes it will end up selling in supermarkets for a price similar to that of real avocados. Shokouhi has also experimented with Japanese edamame beans and is intrigued by the idea of producing the Ecovado in other countries using different local ingredients in the future.
He hopes skeptics will give the Evoked a chance.
“The flavor may not be 100% exactly like the avocado,” Shokouhi says, “but that doesn’t matter as an alternative as long as you can eat it with your sourdough, and it tastes and looks the same and is healthy.”