Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Liberal Studies


David T. Humphries

Subject Categories

Environmental Studies | Food Studies | Human Ecology | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Justice | Sociology of Culture


Sustainability, Food Studies, Food Systems, Environmental Justice


The past two decades have seen a surge in global demand for avocados, which have become popular among middle- and high-income fractions of society in developed regions of the world. Avocados are predominantly consumed far from their centers of origin and out of their traditional cultural context. The United States imports 87 percent of its avocados from a single region in Mexico, Michoacán. The systems of production and provision that have risen to meet the demand for this fashionable fruit have had devastating social and environmental effects, including deforestation, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, pollution, displacement of indigenous populations, food insecurity, cartel violence and human rights abuses. Although the costs associated with avocado production are significant, consumers in the U.S. cannot clearly discern them in part due to complex, opaque global food systems. This project takes the form of an ESRI Story Map – a digital platform that blends text with a variety of visual content – in order to provide a comprehensive, multi-media account of the avocado’s rise to fame and the costs that arise along its path from the fields in Michoacán to an eatery in New York City. This project is intended for a broad audience and hopes to bring transparency to the avocado supply chain and awareness to the social and environmental impacts driven by our demand for this green fruit. The following white paper provides an overview of the project, along with a review of concepts, methodological tools, and coursework that helped frame the project’s scope and provided the impetus behind its creation.

Avocado Mania Archived Version of Project Website.pdf (37006 kB)
Capstone Project Website (archived as pdf)