April 27, 2014

The Hass That Rudolph Built

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 8:53 am

Good morning and greetings, NBA lovers. There have been some exciting marine life sightings on Monterey Bay, as last Sunday, 18 to 20 Orcas were spotted Easter egg hunting a gray whale and its calf. It didn’t end well for the calf.

Although I didn’t view any killer whales, I was lucky enough to witness some either humpbacks or grays cruising along West Cliff on my morning strolls. Throw in a big midweek swell and a mix of dolphins and sea birds and it was business was booming on the continent’s edge.

So I was body surfing the internet last week when I came across a story written by Jonathan Kauffman for sfgate.com. In it he mentioned a study by an Arizona State University professor that went viral, when it projected that this historic California drought, which has parched 100 percent of the state, was about to drive avocado prices up by as much as 28%.

Holy guacamole, Batman. Now we’re talking about the sacred avocado, which is one of the foods I was encouraged to eat during my no wheat, low carb, semi-starvation diet that enabled me to drop over 10 pounds and lower my cholesterol to a level of a healthy zebra.

Since the program worked, I’ve been dining on avocados like they’re Double Chocolate Milano Pepperidge Farm cookies. I’ve always been a guacamole fan, but my new eating regimen has taken it to heights never seen before in the Jewish religion.

But hold on to your salsa and chips, as according to farmers, industry representatives and a spokesman for FX’s cold war drama series, “The Americans,” the price spike is not going to happen this year. Turns out it was just a false alarm, as wholesale prices are up 16% from a year ago, but it doesn’t have much to do with the drought or the lovely KGB’s Kerry Russell’s choice of disguises.

It’s the avocado trees genetic makeup. One year they’re full on heavy with fruit, the next year much lighter. That’s just the way the trees roll.

Last year, California produced a giant crop of 500 million pounds of avocados. This year, the Golden State is on track to produce 300 million pounds, which is pretty much average. This helps feeds the nation on Super Bowl Sunday, when over 50 million pounds are consumed along with 400 tons of chips and enough salsa to fill the Panama Canal.

And the good news is, as compared to the San Joaquin Valley, which is as dry as dust bowl, neither of the state’s two biggest avocado-growing regions are currently hurting for water, so avocado salad lovers can breathe a little easier.

So what do we really know about the single seeded berry avocado? Well, according to the folks at www.californiaavocado.com, the avocado originated in south-central Mexico, although archaeologists in Peru found some early domesticated avocado seeds and fossilized tortilla chips buried with Incan mummies and daddies.

The Spanish conquistadores, when they weren’t busy destroying the Aztec empire, loved the flavor, texture, nutritional value and culinary versatility of avocados. They also used it to keep their swords shiny.

But these fun-loving conquerors had trouble pronouncing the Aztec word ahuacatl, which means “testicle tree.” Talk about low hanging fruit. So they changed it to aguacate, which is the origin of guacamole, and that eventually became avocado in English. I’m just wondering if the Aztecs had a word for Hanukkah bush?

Now back in 1871, Judge R.B. Ord introduced avocados to the U.S., when he planted three trees in Santa Barbara, CA. The Golden State is now home to 90 percent of the nation’s avocado crop. 95% is of the Hass variety, with its distinctive skin that turns from green to purplish-black when ripe.

For that we can thank Rudolph Hass, a postman, who patented the Hass avocado tree in 1935. The first Hass avocado tree he raised is still alive and producing fruit. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for old Rudy.

Avocados are grown year-round in California. A single tree can produce up to 500 pieces, although most average around 60 pounds or 150 pieces of fruit. But before you start tearing up the backyard and planting any seeds, remember it takes 7-15 years before you’ll see any guacamole.

Avocados are sodium, cholesterol and worry-free. They are loaded with unsaturated fats, which are important for the normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain, which most people seem to value.

Unlike a chocolate covered donut, avocados are gluten free. They have the highest protein content of any fruit and contain more potassium than bananas. Avocados are a fruit that were once a luxury food reserved for the tables of royalty, but now any prison inmate has access to them.

Much like the Osmond family, avocado trees do not self-pollinate, as they need another avocado tree close by to bear fruit. These fruits are not loners, as they grow in pairs on trees. They are fleshy, dramatic and climacteric, meaning they mature on the tree but ripen off of the tree. Sounds like my childhood development.

So here’s my favorite joke about another fruit disguised as a vegetable.

A beautiful blonde woman loved growing tomatoes, but couldn’t seem to get her tomatoes to turn red. One day while taking a stroll she came upon a gentlemen neighbor who had the most beautiful garden full of huge red tomatoes. The woman asked the gentlemen, “What do you do to get your tomatoes so red?”

The gentlemen responded, “Well, twice a day I stand in front of my tomato garden and expose myself, and my tomatoes turn red from blushing so much.”

Well, the woman was so impressed, she decided to try doing the same thing to her tomato garden to see if it would work. So twice a day for two weeks she exposed herself to her garden hoping for the best.

One day the gentlemen was passing by and asked the woman, “By the way, How did you make out? Did your tomatoes turn red?”

“No” she replied, “but my cucumbers are enormous.”

So for today’s photo highlights, we are returning to Lighthouse Point on the morning of January 6. These images represent a sampling of what world-class Santa Cruz sunrises are all about. The changing colors of the clouds were magnificent, as I cruised along West Cliff trying to capture different angles of these moments of light and drama.

They say it’s darkest before dawn, but the light that followed on this morning was definitely show worthy. As I write this, sitting in my photo archives are close to twenty exotic sunrises and sunsets from this past January and February, just waiting for their invitation to the cyber party. So keep your dial tuned to this station.

On to some late night humor. “A zoo in China has a depressed panda so they just installed a TV in its cage to cheer it up. Then the panda said, “Or, you could let me out of animal jail.” – Jimmy Fallon Today is John Muir Day. He is the father of our national parks, the most famous naturalist of all time. He devoted his life to preserving nature. Without his tireless effort, America would be a dirty, over-developed commercial wasteland. Or as we call that here, “Los Angeles.” – Craig Ferguson

“The Christian Science Monitor is claiming “Hillary Clinton will be a tad less interested in running for president now that she’s about to be a grandmother.” And if you put a grain of sand in your pocket there’s a tad less sand on the beach. A Kansas man on trial for first-degree murder wants to remove a tattoo across his neck reading “murder” because he’s worried it might prejudice the jury. Though he might be able to create reasonable doubt by just adding a question mark.” – Seth Meyers

“The Yankees played last night and their pitcher had pine tar on his neck. You can’t have a foreign substance on your neck. Why can’t the guy be like everybody else and just forget the pine tar and use the steroids? I don’t know what’s the matter with that pitcher. There’s only one place for pine tar in baseball and that’s on the hot dogs.” – David Letterman

So that’s our last blast for April 2104. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first week of the NBA playoffs as they have been more than epic. We’ll catch you amazing the crowds and stepping up your game in your first playoff appearance. Aloha, mahalo and later, Damian Lillard fans.


  1. Growing up on the east coast, I never saw an avocado until moving until California. Of course, Green Giant hadn’t figured out how to stuff one in a can yet. Not a big item at Chinese restaurants, pizza parlors and hamburger stands either.

    Comment by The Big Dipper — April 28, 2014 @ 11:55 am

  2. I am still laughing. Love the pics and story.

    Comment by Margie Jaye — April 28, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

  3. Enjoyed this post! I love avocados and the sunset photos of Santa Cruz are just breathtaking!

    Comment by Marc K — April 30, 2014 @ 6:04 am

  4. well done. one of the berry best. our street is loaded with avocado trees, great for Fla but they match up to the haas like damon lillard does against the knicks

    Comment by Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama — May 3, 2014 @ 6:41 am

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