I’m a Millennial and I Eat Avocados

I was born in April of 1989 outside of New York City, in a middle class, white family.

I grew up in a diverse town. I played Super Nintendo. I watched the news with my parents at night and in the morning. I don’t remember the Rodney King riots, but I do remember when Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times and all four cops were found not guilty. When the president had an affair with an intern; when I watched on my birthday footage of Eric and Dylan kill 12 of their classmates, a teacher and themselves; when I tried calling my dad on 9/11 to see if he was ok (he was, never even made it past the Lincoln Tunnel) ; when we first bombed Afghanistan and when the financial system collapsed during my second year of college.

I remember nights on AIM, Myspace, and Xanga — perfecting my profile to present a sense of self I aspired to be. My first camera phone held 20 photos. I remember getting invited to Facebook and my first tagged photos. I used my LG flip phone to text 40404 to write on Twitter. I recall my first upload on Instagram. And that time I tried to convince my ex-boyfriend to join Snapchat, a week after we broke up in hopes it would bring us closer together.

But none of this explains why I, a millennial, eat avocado toast.

From one of my favorite subreddits, r/fellowkids

A news alert comes across my phone about an article stating if millennials stopped eating avocados we could save to buy a house. I put 20% of my paycheck into savings and 20% goes into my 401k and I have enough over to afford groceries, rent, and an occasional Amazon splurge. I’m one of the lucky ones. I had looked at purchasing a house a year ago — Seattle has the highest growing rent and housing prices in the country. A two bedroom in our neighborhood would be greater than a million dollars. To afford a condo or house I would have to go far out of my neighborhood and also have to look into purchasing a vehicle or public transportation — and traffic in this city has only gotten worse.

The avocados in my kitchen ripen a day at a time.

Every generation seems to try to understand the younger generations. It’s cyclical. It seems it’s often forgotten that it’s the older people trying to understand what the younger ones are doing. My dad was born in October in the late 40s in Minnesota. He grew up with Truman, The $64,000 Question Scandal, Civil Rights Movement, Bay of Pigs, man landing on the moon, Rock and Roll, Vietnam War, Berlin Wall, War on Drugs, the first black American president.

He recalled watching the Federal Civil Defense Administration created kid’s film “Duck and Cover” starring Bert the Turtle, which taught him and others what to do under atomic attack.

(Yesterday, I sat on the toilet and read from my iPhone an article someone shared on their wall about where's the safest place to go if a bomb is dropped (not your car). I flushed, washed my hands, and contemplated whether I should buy a crank radio off of Amazon and then read another article about where North Korea is likely to drop a bomb and where it is not. I may be safe in Seattle, I may not.)

Have we all forgotten about bananas?

Let’s not even get into Gen X

As my father and mother learned to duck and cover, the Cavendish banana became wildly more popular. Allen Ginsberg overhears Walt Whitman question the price of bananas in his 1956 poem “A Supermarket In California.” The 50s happen to also be the time in advancements in the transportation of refrigerated goods. Families would go to the supermarket as a unit — supermarkets entered a golden age.

Unlike the avocado, bananas were and still are relatively inexpensive. Supermarkets advanced and so did the cultivation and production of banana picking and transport. The poor Gros Michel had been popular until the 1950s Panama disease almost wiped them all out. The taste of the Gros Michel lives on in the artificial banana flavoring used in candy and other food scientist created ingestible products.

In “Why Elites Love Authentic Lowbrow Culture: Overcoming High-Status Denigration with Outsider Art” Hahl, Zuckerman, and Kim ascertain that certain elites, insecure in their culture, appreciate “lowbrow culture” because it is perceived as more authentic. Thus these insecure elites attain authentic status by appreciating outsider art which is perceived lowbrow and authentic.

Hahl, Zuckerman, and Kim use art in their study — but they mentioned how it’s in “vogue” for elites to partake in lowbrow culture: comfort foods like mac and cheese in trendy restaurants, street food, cultural experiences in ethnic neighborhoods, etc. Do millennial elites see avocados as a cultural experience?

Google Trends Search

Certainly we have seen an increase in avocado searches on google over time. Avocado toast had little to no interest on google until January of 2016. Avocado interest peaked in May 2016. But damn, has banana increased over time. Constantly higher than avocados and certainly avocado toast.

Is it because we’re all attaching ourselves more to bananas? The inexpensive nature of them makes it easier to come up with recipes? In a image obsessed America we worry about the nutritional qualities of the banana? Aging baby boomers with empty houses and maybe a grand kid or two are likely to now bake things for their children’s children?

Can we even attach ourselves to a food item. As if everything we do and consume is explainable by the news we have lived through.

Maybe I found out about avocados from eating them as a child — or my love increased because of the natural virality of recipes on the Internet. Maybe it has something to do with how I was raised, or maybe not. I don’t question my parents identity by the loss of the Gros Michel or the rise of supermarkets. Don’t analyze my identity based on when I was born and because I find avocado toast delicious.