The Slatest

Are Millennials Wasting So Much Money on Smashed Avocados That They Can’t Afford Houses?

Delicious snacks, or grenades lobbed at the American dream?

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The internet exploded Monday when Tim Gurner, a 35-year-old multimillionaire real estate mogul from Australia, appeared on the Australian version of 60 Minutes with strong words for spendthrift millennials. “When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocados for 19 bucks and four coffees at four dollars each,” Gurner said, before agreeing with the interviewer that “young people end up just spending their money and then whinge about the fact they can’t get into the property market.” (Gurner may have cut back on avocados back in the day, but he also started his business with a $34,000 loan from his grandfather.) There will always be a market for young people who tell old people that young people are awful, and at first glance, Gurner sounds like a standard-issue generational Quisling worth ignoring. But remember, he’s not only young, he’s also rich: Therefore, we must take his ideas seriously. So let’s! Could we get lazy, entitled, suspicious-looking young people to buy houses if we razed the avocado orchards and salted the fields?

The short answer is no, and the long answer is fuck you, dude. Millennials can take a look at their individual avocado budgets and real estate markets and figure out how helpful Gurner’s advice is—MTV’s Kaleb Horton calculated that cutting out avocados would allow him to buy a “godawful teardown in Sun Valley” at the age of 96—but there’s a bigger picture here, too. According to the California Avocado Commission, the entire state produces about 350 million pounds of avocados per year, at a wholesale cost of about a dollar a pound. So a millennial who really liked smashed avocados—let’s call him Gim Turner—could buy, then smash, then eat, every avocado grown in the state of California all year for about $350 million. At an average weight of 7.6 ounces per avocado, Gim would be smashing and eating more than 2 million avocados a day. That’s a lot of avocados, and I think we can all agree Gim should take a hard look at the “smashed avocados” line item in his yearly budget, then ask his doctor about the health risks inherent in a 480 million calorie-a-day diet. But the most recent census figure for the median price of a new home in the United States is $315,100, so Gil is still only wasting enough money on avocados to pay for 1,110 houses. (That’d house 2,220 millennials if they all got married, but—speaking of things Boomers harp on—they won’t.) There are 75.4 million millennials in the United States alone.

But let’s go further—assume Gim really, really, really loves smashed avocados, and his pride only allows him to pay retail. In 2012, the planet Earth produced 4,360,000 metric tons of avocados, or 9,612,154,631 pounds. According to the USDA, the average retail price of avocados in the U.S. was $2.24 per pound. At that price, if Gim ran down to his favorite grocery store and bought every single avocado in the world for an entire year, his tab would run to $21,531,226,373.44. (There is exactly one millennial on the planet who could conceivably pay a $21.5 billion grocery bill: Mark Zuckerberg—who, it turns out, enjoys avocado toast.) This is the theoretical limit any millennial could be wasting on avocados in a year—scientists call it the “avocado horizon”—but it’s still only enough money to buy 68,331 houses. If you only give those houses to married couples, you could stretch that to cover 136,662 people, but that leaves more than 75 million millennials whose houses simply can’t be paid for by a reduction in avocado spending—at least not in the first year. If Gim stopped buying avocados forever, he could eventually save enough to house every millennial in America, two to a house. It would take him 550 years. The notion that young people are to blame for their own problems will always be an appealing one, not least because it lets old people off the hook. But there just aren’t enough avocados in the world for this bullshit.