Four Basic Food Trends That Are Literally Destroying The Earth
There are two major types of food trends: The first concerns the kind of sugar-covered, deep-fried concoctions no sane human should actually consume, and the second revolves around the polar opposite.
"Superfoods" have been all the rage since a desperate marketing executive shouted the word in the waning moments of a brainstorming session for an açaí juice conglomerate, and it's not hard to see why.
Nobody actually knows how nutrition works, but convincing people that you do is an incredibly lucrative industry.
In the 19th century, discovering gold was the way to get rich -- in the the 21st, it's being the first person to find a high-protein grain that only grows in the overly-humid lagoons of Guatemala.
Whether you associate them with hipsters, basic b*tches or whatever catchall you use to describe people you don't like, you can't deny the influence of the kind of foods mentioned in New York Times articles that use the word "Brooklyn" too much.
Unfortunately, some of these trends have a dark side you might not even know about.
Your guacamole addiction is sucking California dry.
Some people say Y2K never came to fruition, but I disagree -- it might not have caused computers to crash, but it did make Americans think they needed to eat more food that looks like hand grenades.
There's no single way to explain why we eat four times as many avocados now as we did 15 years ago. Some Y2K deniers point to our increasingly crippling Chiptole dependence. Others blame Subway commercials.
Regardless, avocados have defied the odds by rocketing to the top of every trendy person's shopping list despite its uncomfortably close association with the phrase "slimy green flesh."
Sadly, the avocado growing process is only one of the things on the planet that can make the Ice Bucket Challenge look like a responsible use of water -- it takes 74 gallons of water to grow a single pound.
This is especially discomforting when you discover 90 percent of the avocados grown in the United States come from California, a state without about as much water to spare as a dehydrated octopus in a dry sauna.
California's avocado farmers harvested more than 500 million pounds in 2013, and while the numbers have waned recently, it would still takes almost 6 billion gallons of water to produce 350 million pounds.
Sure, we could always import more from other countries, but that could also do more harm than you'd think.
Eating quinoa to get skinny is making South Americans fat.
Long before quinoa became the weird beads with a name you can't pronounce that your girlfriend eats too much of, it was a cheap and nutritious staple for the people of Bolivia and Peru for thousands of years.
About 10 years ago, the rest of the world discovered The Best Kept Secret In The Andes, and since then, exports from the region have tripled -- along with the price.
This is great news for the farmers who have seen their fortunes increase because Gwyneth Paltrow said we should eat their product, but its kind of a bummer for everyone else who can't afford to eat the food they always have.
As a result, the least affluent people in the region have been thrust into a food desert where cheaper processed foods become the unhealthy norm -- a trend ironically mirrored by those benefiting from the craze.
Remember the suddenly lush quinoa farmers from a couple of sentences ago? It turns out that they don't even like quinoa anymore -- now that they have money, they're more likely to spend it on "luxuries" like pasta, rice and soda.
I don't have any exact numbers, so we can only assume every pound of fat lost above the equator thanks to quinoa has been gained somewhere in Bolivia. Nice going, vegans.
The Sriracha factory held a town hostage to feed your insatiable urges.
Much like quinoa, Sriracha went from a fairly unknown (and hard to pronounce) staple of a foreign cooking to darling of the culinary world almost overnight.
I must have missed the meeting where we decided it somehow deserved the title of World's Favorite Hot Sauce over Frank's Red Hot, but there's nothing I can do about that now.
Hot sauces are what's hot right now, and Sriracha is the hottest (even though it's not that hot):
Part of the Sriracha's appeal is the idea that it goes well with almost anything-- there's nothing people love more than mashing up two types of food, even when those ungodly pairings have no place in this universe.
While Sriracha is technically a generic name, it's become practically synonymous with the green-capped sauce made by Huy Fong, which produces 20 million rooster-emblazoned bottles a year in the California town it held hostage.
I'd love to tell you a man in a chicken suit waving a handgun an spewing obscenities at the frightened citizens of Irwindale, the truth isn't as exciting.
In 2013, the town filed a complaint against Huy Fong after 30 of the town's residents lodged complaints concerning an acrid odor they claimed was a byproduct of the processed chiles ground for the sauce during the fall months.
David Tran, the company's owner, simultaneously threatened to move the factory while refusing to make any changes to it unless ordered by the city council, who demanded that he figure out the necessary fixes himself in a textbook example of capitalism in action.
The two parties were eventually able to find a middle ground last spring, so you can probably eat it now without feeling guilty. The same can't be said for those who ate it between 2010 and 2013.
Good whiskey is becoming an endangered species.
Whiskey might not be as healthy as the previous entries (and also might not be "food"), but it's really popular among the kind of people who wear flannel shirts to rooftop parties in July, so I think it belongs on this list.
Whiskey sales in America saw a declined steadily toward end of the 20th century -- there were actually a few years in the 90s where no one under the age of 55 consumed any of the spirit unless it was a Jack and Coke.
That was before Don Draper started drinking it at 2 pm and made it the bees knees (I assume that's how they would have described similar crazes back in his day).
There was initially enough to meet the rapidly growing demand thanks to the undrunk stockpile from previous years, but unlike vodka or gin, you can't just whip up a batch of whiskey in your bathtub when you want more.
As a result, good whiskey is slowly but surely becoming an endangered species -- complete with a black market and hunters willing to pay whatever price to track down the elusive bottles that serve as the black rhinos in this analogy.
Some claim cries of a shortage are overhyped, and while you'll likely have no problem finding some of the more popular brands, don't be surprised if you end up paying even more than you should for a shot Fireball fairly soon.