Grower gives Florida avocados a new moniker
VANESSA CACERES, Central Florida's Agri-LeaderAre you lured in by marketing? Apparently I am. My weekly perusal at Publix for nicer food items I just can't find at Walmart led me to notice something called a "SlimCado," which basically looks like a Hass avocado on steroids. I bought two and, investigative journalist that I am, went home and immediately Googled "SlimCado" online.
Published: July 19, 2012
Published: July 19, 2012
I found out that the SlimCado, sold by a Homestead-based company called Brooks Tropicals, has half the fat and a third of the calories of a Hass avocado.
Really? So does this mean we can slim down with yummy tortilla chips and guacamole made from the SlimCado?
Probably not. However, my intrepid reporting did lead me to some other SlimCado discoveries.
"The scoop is that the SlimCado has been grown for over 80 years," said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks. The SlimCado is actually your basic Florida avocado — it's a lighter color on the inside compared with the Hass avocados grown commonly in California.
"I'm no avocado 'expert,' but Florida-grown avocados are larger, a different shade of green, and have a smoother skin than Hass avocados," confirmed Lisa Lochridge, director of public affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association in Maitland.
Essentially, Brooks Tropicals is marketing the Florida avocado using that attention-grabbing name. However, because Brooks is a large commercial operation, the production is also food-safety audited, which may not be the case when you buy a Florida avocado from your local farmers market, according to Ostlund.
There's also a taste difference. Although I've lived in Florida for a couple of years now and bought my share of avocados, I had never thought about the difference in appearance and taste between the Hass and giant-sized Florida-grown varieties. The Florida variety has a lighter, more buttery taste — not unpleasant, just not what you might expect if you're used to Hass avocados.
However, if you're from certain Latin American countries, the SlimCado may be more like what you ate at home. "The SlimCado is popular with the Latin American market," Ostlund said. "In most of those countries, the climate is hot and humid, and the SlimCado is like the avocado grown in those countries," she explained. In contrast, areas that grow Hass varieties have a drier climate compared with the sticky subtropical climate in South Florida.
The SlimCado has also found a market with the health-conscious because of its lower fat and calorie content. With many reports on the health benefits of avocados, eating a SlimCado is a way "to eat more but not eat a lot," Ostlund said.
The SlimCado will produce 19 million bushels this year — each bushel has about two boxes. So, to save you from doing the math, that's 38 million boxes of avocados. The fruit (avocado is a fruit, another investigative gem I learned for this column) is shipped all around North America. But 70 percent of the time, it doesn't get out of the state. "Publix buys them up," Ostlund said. Generally speaking, SlimCados are marketed and shipped on a wide scale basis from mid-June to December, but they are available for a slightly longer time period within the state, Ostlund explained.
The avocados are mostly grown in the southern tip of the state as the fruit needs that subtropical climate, Ostlund said. However, there are some avocado trees in the Palm Beach and Lake Okeechobee areas.
If you're an avocado fan, you may already have your favorite avocado recipes for guacamole or sandwich spreads. You can use those same recipes with the SlimCado. Other ways to use the SlimCado are in smoothies, in salads, in certain kinds of soup, and on the grill, either grilled on their own or on top of meat, where they will slightly melt, Ostlund said.