Avocados. Fruit, or vegetable?
...."It's a fruit," she says matter-of-factly. "And did you know that it has the highest protein content of all fruit?"
These are just two of the pronouncements to come from Cusick, a seemingly mild-mannered marketing director and mother of 11-year-old twins for whom the Avocado Diva has become not only an online business but an alter ego intent on changing the way we eat — and think about — avocados.
"Avocado Diva specializes in heritage avocados from small ranches and farms," she said. "Sometimes there may be only one or two trees, but what they are growing is unique and delicious. "
Cusick's inner green diva emerged after a chance meeting with rancher Jim Lewis at the Moorpark farmers market.
Lewis grows the popular Hass avocado in addition to such lesser-known varieties as Bacon, Frey and Zutano on his 12 - acre property on La Loma Avenue in Somis.
Lewis' Hass avocados typically are spoken for by a cooperative that sells them to mainstream supermarkets and other outlets. But Lewis told Cusick he was having so much trouble selling the other varieties on a similarly large scale that he was thinking of tearing out the trees, some of which date back to the ranch's original plantings nearly 60 years ago.
This struck a dissonant chord with Cusick, who laments that there are no Moorpark apricots growing in Moorpark, and that the Peach Hill neighborhood has no peach trees, she said.
"I'm a fourth-generation Ventura County girl. My great-grandfather came out here during the Dust Bowl. And my grandfather worked on the Lynn Ranch, as well as others. Hearing a farmer talk about ripping out his heritage avocado trees just tugged at me," said Cusick.
"I decided to try and sell them online as a way to make money and to help preserve these kinds of avocados before they all go away," she added.
Thus was born Avocado Diva.com, the website through which Cusick sells fruit she has found growing in a patchwork of small orchards stretching from Ventura County to Morro Bay near San Luis Obispo. - Ventura County Star