Solving Avocado Browning Can Help in These Senseless Times

Focus on small victories

Brethren, it has been a week. A month. A year. And it’s only March.

In such complicated and anxiety-provoking times, simple wins mean a lot. I’ve got a tip that involves avocados — a prime culprit in the wellness movement.

For a long time, I found avocados very annoying. They barely taste like anything unless you douse them in hot sauce. Certain grocery stores price them like tiny mounds of green orgasms. Toast tastes better with jam, peanut butter, plain butter, or olive oil. Fight me on it.

And yet, I began regularly consuming avocados a few months back, when I caved to peer pressure and tried the keto diet. Like most millennials, I am not immune to #wellness. I’m also always tired and my colleagues told me keto gives you more energy. I can’t confirm that’s true, but that’s beside the point.

I came to enjoy avocados. They are filling and pretty. Green is my favorite color. The Key Foods near me sells two for $1. There’s just one problem: I like eating one half at a time. And within hours, despite every effort, the other half turns a nasty brown in the fridge.

This browning feels like a slap in the face: You want to be healthy? You want to save a few cents and eat half an avocado at a time? Ration the calories? Well, too damn bad, because I, the avocado, will turn into a fugly mud bath unless you immediately consume me in my entirety.

This browning feels like a metaphor for modern consumerism: Eat me, eat me, eat me. Faster, faster, faster. If you wait, you’ll lose out. Buy more now.

In the meantime, people have tried to extort more money from avocado enthusiasts, riding on the back of its popularity. Reusable silicone “avocado huggers” cost $10. This adorable Birkenstock for avocado halves costs $4.99. This avocado saver “pod” (emblematic of the body pod I want to prevent COVID-19) costs 6 bucks. My old roommate’s mom bought her a pod. Like all of these pricey solutions, it’s cute but it doesn’t work.

Annoyed, defeated, and confused about how everyone must be either pounding full avocados or eating brown mush, I put my head down and committed to finding a solution.

I am no fool — research published in Harvard Business Review explains how, especially in uncertain times, small wins have an outsized impact:

“Even ordinary, incremental progress can increase people’s engagement in work and their happiness during the workday,” wrote Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile and independent researcher Steven Kramer, co-authors of “The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work.”

“Across all types of events our participants reported, a notable proportion (28%) of incidents that had a minor impact on the project had a major impact on people’s feelings about it. Because inner work life has such a potent effect on creativity and productivity, and because small but consistent steps forward, shared by many people, can accumulate into excellent execution, progress events that often go unnoticed are critical to the overall performance of organizations.”

These days, I’m in need of small wins. After trying everything — the expensive avocado pods, leaving the pit in, plastic wrap, compostable plant-based “plastic” wrap, aluminum foil, absolutely nothing, lemon juice, onion, olive oil — I lost steam. My avocados would not stop browning.

Then, I had an idea. As my mother always tells me, “in times of trouble, go back to your roots.” What are my browning avocado’s roots? THEIR SKIN, OF COURSE. What if I covered it in its own skin, leftover from the avocado half I did eat? It felt too obvious.

Not only did it work, it worked exceedingly well. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that discovering this solution is the single most impressive thing I have ever accomplished. Being published in The New York Times, getting a perfect GPA in college, or somehow convincing my longtime best friend to marry me stand no chance against this goldmine.

Why? Because it is so simple. It is so free. And it works so well. For whatever reason, I have never heard this suggestion upon lamenting my avocado browning.

Look at this wizardry (featured as tweet of the week by Crunchbase News):

This is after two days:

Last week, dismayed by Queen Elizabeth being dismantled by systemic misogyny, I knew what I had to do. I walked my ass to Key Foods (despite the terror of contracting the plague), dropped $1 on an avocado, brought it home, waited for it to soften, then cut in. On Monday, I enjoyed one delicious half (doused in hot sauce, of course). On Friday, I savored the second half — gorgeously ripe, ephemerally hopeful, and untouched by the poison of this year’s news.

It is small. To you, it may be meaningless. But to me, sustaining hope matters in even the most minute objects. It’s proof that simple solutions do exist, even if we don’t see them today.

Investor at NextView Ventures. Journalist. Thinking about gender, equality, and pugs. Formerly at Chief, Quartz, Slow, Bridgewater Associates, Middlebury.

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