The Times podcast: How violence taints Mexican avocados

Avocados Michoacán
Pickers harvest avocados in Cerro de la Vaina in Tancitaro, Michoacán, in a 2019 file photo. Mexican cartels have evolved beyond drug trafficking, extortion and theft of the local avocado and timber industries.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Americans eat billions of dollars of Mexican avocados every year. Demand is such that drug cartels and other criminal elements have muscled in on the business, centered around the Mexican state of Michoacán. This reality got worldwide attention Super Bowl weekend, when the U.S. government announced it was temporarily suspending any avocado imports from Mexico.

Today, we talk about this development — and why Americans are so obsessed with avocados in the first place.


Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times Mexico correspondent Leila Miller, and L.A. Times acting deputy food editor Daniel Hernandez.

More reading:

Avocado imports from Mexico are blocked. What does that mean for you?

How we got to peak avocado: Super Bowls to Mexico’s drug cartels

Inside the bloody cartel war for Mexico’s multibillion-dollar avocado industry

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producers Denise Guerra, Shannon Lin and Kasia Broussalian and producers Melissa Kaplan, Ashlea Brown and Angel Carreras. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Kinsee Morlan. Our executive producers are Jazmín Aguilera and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.