Is Cactus The New Avocado?

Rapidly rising food prices are giving both restaurant and home kitchens pause. Per Associated Press, with inflation at a 40-year high, grocery bills might make your pocket book feel as if you just made a down payment on a new car. It's no joke. In fact, recently, grocery prices broke a 13-year record, which is spurring the culinary world, both pros and novices, to take their creativity to new levels. And the food of the moment grabbing our attention is the trusty avocado

Recently, avocados from Mexico were banned from entering the U.S. and while that ban has since been lifted, there are still questions surrounding any potential price hikes or shortages that might ensue at a time where businesses and consumers are already navigating supply shortages. CBS LA shares some restaurant owners have already experienced that rise in the cost of avocados, highlighting the comments of Francisco Garcia, the owner of Mexican restaurant La Casa Garcia in Anaheim, California. Garcia revealed he may have to pay $150 per case of those green, creamy fruits, juxtaposed against the $30 per case he shelled out the previous year. If that has you saying 'holy guacamole,' you are not alone. This is why some restaurant chefs are looking to something new for inspiration and using it as a possible alternative to make that favorite dip: cactus.

Cactus is a common ingredient in Mexican cooking

As The Daily Mail explains, Mexico supplies the United States with 80% of our avocado supply, while California contributes a mere 13%. Necessity is the definitely the mother of invention, and the current situation now has chefs experimenting with everything from zucchini to cactus. In fact, a Utah restaurant owner named Alfonso Brito told the Daily Mail he is trying out these ingredients to make an alternative to guacamole. He said, 'It's not avocados, it's zucchini, but also it's a great option, you know. Also with the cactus or spinach." 

According to Isabel Eats, cactus is a "common" ingredient in Mexican food, and it can provide a crunchy element to a recipe, making it perfect for a salsa. Can you use any type of cactus, however? Survey says, no. Per, there are five varieties of cacti that are edible — those include prickly pear, cholla, dragon fruit, barrel, and saguaro. The prickly pear is the most common type used.

But, can it take the place of creamy guac? We guess that depends on how many Ben Franklins you pad your wallet with when you make your run to the grocery store, but the only way to know for sure is to give it a try.