Of all the dangers that lurk in our kitchens, avocados might be the most quietly sinister. The green-fleshed fruit of Instagram-perfect avocado toast and party platters of guacamole has caused so many injuries that it even has an ailment named after it: avocado hand. That’s what happens when you try to dig out an avocado pit with a sharp knife and end up slicing your palm instead.
But the British grocery chain Tesco is trying to combat this epidemic. The brand has introduced an easy-peel avocado, with “a thicker and corkier consistency to its skin,” which the company says should help with “one of the messiest and potentially dangerous kitchen chores,” according to a news release. The EasyAvo, as it’s called, is a naturally developed hybrid grown in South Africa. It costs the equivalent of $2.50, more than double a conventional avocado at the chain. It went on sale this fall. Westfalia Fruit, the company that grows it, said the product is not yet available in the United States.
You might laugh at avocado hand — especially because avocados have become a sort of catchall scapegoat for millennial and upper-middle-class derision — but it really is a problem. According to the Chicago Tribune, avocado consumption has increased by 250 percent since 2002. There aren’t reliable statistics on how many Americans have been injured cutting an avocado, but emergency rooms report that it is becoming more frequent. In New Zealand, an average of 100 people a year who have cut themselves while handling an avocado request compensation from a government fund for injuries. The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons called for safety labels on the fruit. One London doctor said he was treating four patients a week for avocado-related injuries.
“I see it fairly frequently,” Scott Dresden of Northwestern University’s Department of Emergency Medicine told the Tribune. “Patients try to stab the pit, the knife slips off the pit and they stab the hand. Or patients do a sort of hacking motion with the long blade of the knife into the pit, and hack into the webbing between the thumb and the forefinger instead.”
But that’s the problem with these new avocados: It’s not the skin that’s causing injuries, it’s the pit. It’s unclear how an easier-to-peel skin would prevent injuries — it could possibly make the avocado even more slippery, leading to more lacerations.
Tesco is not the only company that has tried to address the growing scourge of avocado hand. Dozens of kitchen goods companies make avocado slicers, but they’ve been met with derision from Bon Appétit and chefs. A group of British schoolchildren invented a device called the “Avogo,” a hooked blade that extracts the pit. And NPR reports that Marks & Spencer, another British company, has introduced the cocktail avocado, a small avocado grown with no pit. It tastes just like a regular avocado; even the peel is edible, but that part reportedly doesn’t taste very good. The only problem is that they are grown only in Spain and available only in December.
If you’re scared of avocado hand, remember: Always cut against a flat surface, not with the fruit in your palm. Want a tutorial on how to do it the safe way? Click here.
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