Avocado Prices Are Skyrocketing

Marvin G Perez and Megan Durisin wrote . . . . .

That bowl of guacamole on Cinco de Mayo will be more expensive this year, as avocado prices rise to a record on surging demand and a smaller crop in Mexico and California.

A 10-kilogram (22-pound) box of Hass avocados from the state of Michoacan, Mexico’s biggest producer, cost 530 pesos (US$27.89) Thursday, according to the government. The price, which is subject to seasonal swings, is more than double what it was a year earlier and the highest in data going back 19 years.

The jump in demand in recent years has been dramatic. American per-capita consumption was 6.9 pounds in 2015, versus 3.5 pounds in 2006, according to the U.S. government. People are being drawn to the fruit not just for its taste but also for its healthy oils and fats, a trend borne out in the U.S. by Starbucks Corp.’s announcement last month it’s selling avocado sandwich spread.

“You have increased consumption in China and other areas of the world, like Europe,” said Roland Fumasi, an analyst at Rabobank in Fresno, California. “They’re pulling a lot more of the Mexican crop, so there’s less available for the U.S.”

Mexico supplies 82 percent of the avocados eaten north of the border. Its shipments into the U.S. surged to 1.76 billion pounds in 2015 from just 24 million pounds in 2000, according to data from the Hass Avocado Board in Mission Viejo, California.

Avocado trees are alternate-bearing crops, with large harvests one year and smaller ones the next. A lighter crop is expected this season, Fumasi said. In California, which accounts for the rest of supply in the U.S., production will be down about 44 percent this year, the state’s avocado commission forecasts.

U.S. restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said earlier this week the shortage of avocados is putting pressure on costs. Hass avocados retailed in the U.S. for $1.27 each on April 21, up from 98 cents a year earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

Cinco de Mayo

None of this is good news for those celebrating Cinco de Mayo next week. The date of the Mexican Army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 has become a broader celebration of Mexican-American culture. It’s also turned into one of the top occasions to consume guacamole in the U.S., besides the Super Bowl.

Avocado prices will “remain at relatively elevated levels. It could be all the way through summer,” Fumasi said. Buyers will have to wait until the fall, and hope next season’s Mexican crop is bigger, before there’s enough volume to push prices considerably lower, he said.

Source: Bloomberg


Read also at npr:

California Is On Its Way To Having An Avocado Crop Year-Round . . . . .

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Chinese Hakka-style Steamed Pork Belly

Ingredients

1-1/2 lb whole piece pork belly
5-6 oz dried preserved mustard greens (梅菜), soaked, rinsed, drained and shredded
2 slices ginger
2 star anise
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons rock sugar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoons light soy sauce

Seasoning

1 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
1 cup chicken broth

Thickening

1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tbsp water

Method

  1. Put the pork belly in a pot, and cover with cold water. Add the ginger slices and star anise. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 35 minutes.
  2. Remove pork and set aside.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium heat. Brown the pork skin side first, followed by the other sides. Once browned, add a teaspoon of dark soy sauce and a tablespoon water, and carefully coat the pork in the liquid. Turn off the heat and let the pork cool in the wok.
  4. Slice the pork into 1/2-inch slices, and arrange them in the bottom of a shallow heat-proof bowl.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and sugar to the wok. Cook the sugar until it melts and caramelized.
  6. Add the minced ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the preserved vegetables, and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
  7. Add seasoning ingredients. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.
  8. Spoon the preserved vegetable mixture over the pork belly in the bowl and spread evenly to cover all the pork. Put the bowl in a steamer and steam for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  9. Remove the bowl from the steamer and pour off any excess liquid into your wok.
  10. Bring the liquid in the wok to a gentle simmer, and add the thickening solution.
  11. Cover the bowl of pork with your serving plate and flip it over onto the plate. Pour the sauce over the dish and serve with cooked rice.

Source: Hong Kong magazine

In Pictures: Character Foods of Raccoon and Fox Cafe (タヌキとキツネがカフェ)

The Characters

5 Reasons Why Spicy Food is Good for You

Tanya Zuckerbrot wrote . . . . . .

The Spice Girls were onto something when they released their hit song “Spice Up Your Life” in the ’90s. Turns out, a wealth of research supports the idea that adding spice to your food can offer some major health benefits.

Although there’s a slew of unexpected perks to giving your food a kick, capsaicin is the ingredient to keep in mind. The compound is found in jalapeños, habaneros, cayenne and most other chili peppers, and it’s the underlying reason spicy foods can help you lose weight and live a longer, healthier life.

Here are 5 reasons to consider spicing up your food:

1. You’ll lose more weight.

Capsaicin is a thermogenic substance, meaning it causes the body temperature to rise, temporarily boosting metabolism and revving its ability to burn calories. Capsaicin may also decrease appetite and help curb cravings. A 2005 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that exposure to capsaicin increased participants’ satiety, and reduced their calorie and fat intake.

Consider adding tabasco sauce to your eggs at breakfast to give your metabolism an early-morning boost.

2. Your heart will thank you.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among men and women in America, but spicing up your food may help reduce your risk of developing the ailment. Studies suggest capsaicin may lower LDL, or bad, cholesterol, which accumulates on artery walls and constricts blood flow to the heart. Spicy food can help dilate blood vessels, promoting circulation and helping to manage your blood sugar, research presented during a 2012 American Chemical Society meeting suggests.

Unfortunately, eating spicy food won’t totally undo a bad diet. For optimal heart health, skip greasy foods like hot wings in lieu of adding peppers or hot spices to your favorite dish with lean protein like turkey or chicken.

3. You may reduce your cancer risk.

You probably already know maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly can reduce your cancer risk, but consider adding a kick to your dish to further lower your chances. A 2006 study in the journal Cancer suggests capsaicin may inhibit the spread of prostate cancer cells. Spicy foods also are known to boost immunity. Studies suggest they can act as a decongestant, protecting against irritants and pollutants, like dust and smoke.

4. You’ll eat more mindfully.

Research suggests people who eat spicy foods are often more satiated than those who don’t, which can reduce the chances of overeating. That may be because spiciness in food naturally slows the eating process, giving the brain more time to realize the body is full. The end result: fewer calories consumed.

If there’s a food you tend to eat mindlessly, try turning up the heat with a squirt of Sriracha sauce to slow you down.

5. You may live longer.

If the aforementioned perks weren’t persuasive enough, consider this suggested benefit: Eating spicy foods may help lengthen your life. A Harvard University study suggested that people who ate spicy food every day saw a 14 percent lower risk of death compared to people who ate spicy food only once a week or less. Consider sprinkling dried chili flakes on whole-wheat pasta, vegetables or soups to add a kick of flavor and potentially lengthen your life.

Source: FOX News

Golden Years are Longer and Healthier for those with Good Heart Health in Middle Age

People with no major heart disease risk factors in middle age live longer and stay healthy far longer than others, according to a 40-year study reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

“Good cardiovascular health in middle age delays the onset of many types of disease so that people live longer and spend a much smaller proportion of their lives with chronic illness,” said Norrina Allen, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

In the first study to analyze the impact of cardiovascular health in middle age on the duration of illness later in life, researchers examined data from the Chicago Health Association study, which did initial health assessments in the late 1960s/early 1970s and has followed participants on an ongoing basis using Medicare health records. Researchers determined how many participants had favorable factors: non-smokers, free of diabetes and normal weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels; versus those with elevated risk factors or high risk factors.

Comparing those who had two or more high-risk factors in middle age among the 17,939 participants who reached age 65 without a chronic illness, researchers found that those with all favorable factors:

  • lived an average of 3.9 years longer;
  • survived 4.5 years longer before developing a chronic illness;
  • spent 22 percent fewer of their senior years with a chronic illness (39 percent vs. 50 percent); and
  • saved almost $18,000 in Medicare costs.

“Health professionals need to let young adults know that maintaining or adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle makes it more likely that you’ll live longer and still be healthy enough to do the things you love to do when you’re older,” Allen said.

Looking solely at heart disease in 18,714 participants who reached age 65 without having a heart attack, stroke or congestive heart failure, those with all favorable risk factors:

  • lived 6.9 years longer without heart disease; and
  • spent 46.5 percent fewer of their senior years with heart disease.

Allen noted that at the start of the study, when their average age was 44, only 5.6 percent of participants had all favorable factors.

That data is even more grim than a 2011-2012 national survey suggesting only 8.9 percent of U.S. adults age 40-59 had five or more “ideal” health factors, according to The American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2017 Update.

“We need to think about cardiovascular health at all stages of life,” she said. “The small proportion of participants with favorable levels in their 40s is a call for all of us to maintain or adopt healthy lifestyles earlier in life. But risk factors and their effects accumulate over time, so even if you have risks it’s never too late to reduce their impact on your later health by exercising, eating right, and treating your high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.”

The American Heart Association created My Life Check ® to educate the public on improving health by aiming to achieve seven health measures called Life’s Simple 7. It’s a composite measure of seven modifiable heart-healthy factors: cigarette smoking, physical activity, diet, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.

The study recruited people from Chicago worksites in 1967-1972 and lacks information on how chronic illnesses affected the quality of life of participants.

Source: American Heart Association


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