What I Learned From Avocados

Guacamole and chips are frequently on the menu of social gatherings for many Kent State University students, staff and faculty. 

However, Kent State President Todd Diacon says that the delicious creamy dip also holds a life lesson about expanding our worldview.

“Avocados, salt, garlic and chopped onions go together. It’s natural. It’s self-evident. Well, not so fast,” Diacon said.

Diacon said he grew up in Wellington, Kansas, which he described as a small, dusty town on the Kansas-Oklahoma border with a population that trended Hispanic and that allowed him to grow up eating vast amounts of Mexican food.

“That’s where I fell in love with guacamole,” he said. “I, myself, make a really mean bowl of guacamole. If you give me avocados, I’ll give you scrumptious guacamole.”

However, when Diacon began visiting Brazil in the early 1980s, his world and his palate were shaken.

“I was thrilled by the abundance of avocados in the markets. (They were) growing on trees and stored in kitchens, but something was off,” Diacon said. “Salt, garlic and onions were nowhere to be found close to these avocados. Instead, Brazilians prepared thick avocado milkshakes with milk and sugar. They loved avocado ice cream, and many a time, I was offered half an avocado with sugar in the cavity where the seed had been removed.

“Initially, this blew my mind and I resisted, but avocados served in this manner are delicious and a whole new world opened up to me.”

While his relatives in Brazil weren’t as open as he was to trying avocados prepared in a different manner, the lesson Diacon learned about opening his mind and broadening his worldview stayed with him. 

“Remember that something real, something beyond dispute and something self-evidently obvious to you might not be any of these things for other people.”

Diacon acknowledged to the spring 2021 graduates that they have already accomplished a great deal by completing their degrees during a pandemic. Going forward, he hopes that they are willing to open their minds to a fresh perspective much as he has done via the food he thought he knew so well. 

“So be open to seeing things differently. Choose to drink a delicious avocado milkshake, and then turn right around and munch on guacamole and chips. In fact, you can do both today to celebrate your accomplishments.”

POSTED: Monday, May 24, 2021 - 12:16pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - 10:54am
Eric Mansfield