Anyone who has watched the Superbowl is acquainted with avocados well enough to know they hit a soft spot. Their mild, fatty richness fills but never clogs. Their 20 vitamins and minerals promise health benefits galore and their shapeshifting versatility allows them to take the forms of guacamole and plain-cut slices.

We consume a lot of avocados. About 2.6 billion pounds of them, in fact — triple the level of consumption in 2001 — which makes the fruit one of the most valuable American imports and sustains a roughly $2.8 billion industry in Mexico.

It wasn’t always that way. The avocado arrived in the U.S. in 1833 first dubbed as an “alligator pear,” but never gained much traction. The fruit was banned in the early 1900s for fear that it carried flies, though it eventually returned to supermarkets in the 1990s thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

This is all just a fairly roundabout way of saying that a fruit with no more than a century of on-and-off history in this country has carved something of a reputation. It catapulted into stardom almost overnight, gracing the inner side of Miley Cyrus’ left arm and then kickstarting a class war before finding itself in the crosshairs of Trump’s trade disputes.

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I don’t know if any other produce carries along as much symbolic weight as the avocado does. It’s universal to the point of being considered a gastronomical fixture, yet exotic enough to retain a bit of its culinary allure. An avocado is the kind of fruit that seems cosmopolitan and a bit cultish, too. It gets preened and paraded around Instagram stories and Pinterest posts, slathered across whole wheat slices of toast accompanied by cups of flat whites or veggie smoothies with metal straws. At its nutty, waxy core is a kind of likable, urbane poshness.

We eat avocados, driven along partly by cultural currents and our personal taste preferences. We’re suckers for the fruit because it naturally accompanies stylish days that are kickstarted by morning workouts and recyclable cups from Starbucks. The avocado that pairs well with our conversations in wood-paneled classrooms and dining halls — the types of discussions where real-life hardships can often be abstracted away as neat theories in spine-bound books, where social ills are either diagnosed or remedied with the clinical detachment of -isms and -ologies. We can leave behind the prickly everyday realities and theorize in a space comfortably closed off from the rest of the world. We can propose neatly bundled solutions to tackle the world’s greatest problems and, even if they fail, walk away relatively untouched by the consequences. This high up in the ivory tower, we’re granted the kind of impunity that comes with privilege.

Look carefully, though, and you might notice how the avocado’s skin looks pimply. What’s also a little surprising is how it requires as many as 320 liters of water, and that a single fruit has a carbon footprint the same size as that of a kilo of bananas. Michoacán — where avocado cultivation tripled between 2001 to 2010 — lost almost 1,700 acres of forest annually to make way for sprawling new plantations. Run-ins between farmers and drug cartels over avocado profits have also skyrocketed in Mexico, which supplies nearly 80 percent of the world’s avocados.

Of course, we have probably never given thought about all this. We can credit the avocado’s meteoric rise to the benefits of free trade and the truckloads of them that get whisked to our grocery store shelves overnight. We might also consider the rise of the avocado as another textbook example of globalization, in which the extra $6.5 billion of our national economic output leaves a few hundred thousand more overworked laborers in its wake. But we probably wouldn’t have to decide, or wouldn’t need to worry about it at least, propped atop our comfortable perches, high up enough and at a safe viewing distance away from the rest of the world.