Crisis Meets Art: Avocados, Mexico, and Commercials

The pauses between the action on the Super Bowl court reflect American culture and politics. As an avid avocado fan, the Super Bowl commercial about avocados from Mexico particularly caught my attention.

Although Avocados From Mexico is based in Texas, most of its produce comes from Mexico.

Wait, California produces avocados, right? Why Mexican avocados? Good question: California avocados are seasonal while Mexican avocados grow year round. Thus, Mexican avocados are not time-dependent, and with these tasty berries, America can crave guacamole all year round. 

But right now, according to CNBC, President Donald Trump is not only considering building a wall between America and Mexico, but he is also considering placing a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports. Avocados From Mexico’s commercial did not mention this fact. Instead, their commercial centered around the story of a secret society that keeps secrets, and the secret they revealed to America was that avocados have good fat.

Thus this company, created by The Association of Growers and Packers of Avocados From Mexico and Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association in 2013, choose to continue its pursuit of wooing the American population with health facts about avocados instead of addressing our current avocado crisis and political tensions with Mexico. Considering the mass expanse in avocado and guacamole sales, the company so far has succeeded in its goal.

But now that the crisis has come to our avocado market, should Avocados From Mexico keep their commercials politically-free? The underlying question here seems to be: what is the purpose of art in the face of crisis? Many, I believe would say that art exists for its beauty or for its enticing quality. However, art—and thereby commercials—exists for more reasons than just for beauty.

I believe that art exists as a commentary upon, and a reflection of, culture. Moreover, art conveys the truth of what the culture sees as important as well as the truths of how we should interpret cultural event. If this is true, what is this commercial saying by saying nothing?

You may not be as avid an avocado fan as I am, so you may not know about the price of avocados at Aldi last semester or this semester, but I will tell you. Last semester, there was a temporary avocado crisis due to agricultural problems. Avocado prices raised to around $1.50 at Aldi. By January the crisis was averted. Avocados at Aldi were $0.49. That is one-third of the price.  

Avocados From Mexico is positive about its future. If the taxes raise on avocados, then the company will benefit from that raise. It does not see this as a threat to the consumers’ demand. However, our billfolds—as well as the billfolds of Mexicans—may shrink in order to meet this heavy load. Should we, like those in the commercial, keep this a secret by refusing to talk about it or reproduce this political controversy in our art? 

This is not just about money. This is about justice, and the relation between justice and art. If we do not answer this question, then we are refusing to face the foundations of our own culture.