DAVID FOLKENFLIK, HOST:
Our next story might make some of you very squeamish, especially if you've suffered from avocado hand.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: I'm an early adopter on avocado hand.
FOLKENFLIK: That's NPR's Tamara Keith. She injured herself 10 years ago.
KETIH: I have a scar the size of a paring knife on my right hand just, you know, about an inch below my index finger.
FOLKENFLIK: And here's Tam's story. She was making breakfast. She thought, hey, how about some avocado? So fruit in one hand, knife in the other, she went for the pit. And then...
KETIH: It glanced off the pit and just stabbed into my hand. Blood went flying. It was just, like, on the walls. It was on the ceiling.
FOLKENFLIK: We did warn you. Tam ended up with stitches and a partially numb index finger. Now, we tell you this because it's Super Bowl Sunday - a big day for food, a bigger day for guacamole.
MATT AIZPURU: I was thinking about how easy it is to cut yourself cutting an avocado.
FOLKENFLIK: Dr. Matt Aizpuru of the Mayo Clinic - he's also a victim. He sliced his thumb. It happened when he was at Emory University, and it led him to study how common this injury really is. When he and his colleagues looked at data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System...
AIZPURU: We saw in 1998, there were just 647, whereas in 2017, there were nearly 6,000.
FOLKENFLIK: Six hundred and forty-seven to nearly 6,000 over a 19-year period, which, to be fair, makes sense, given the rise of avocado consumption in the U.S. And the main group hurting themselves - white women between the ages of 23 to 39.
MARIA RAVEN: I have treated a number of avocado injuries.
FOLKENFLIK: That's Maria Raven, chief of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She's ready for today.
RAVEN: Assuming that people are making a lot of guacamole, we could anticipate seeing more avocado injuries in the emergency department.
FOLKENFLIK: And when Dr. Raven makes guac...
RAVEN: So I am completely guilty of doing this where I try to stab a knife into the avocado pit.
FOLKENFLIK: Is any of this making you feel better - one NPR correspondent, two doctors, all making the same painful mistake? Let's go 1,800 miles east to Kansas City.
RYAN ENDRESS: The first-ever case I treated as an attending surgeon was an avocado-related flexor tendon and digital nerve injury - my very first case.
FOLKENFLIK: That's Ryan Endress, an actual hand surgeon with the University of Kansas health system. He is not a victim. He's very careful in his own kitchen. He really wishes his patients were more careful, too.
ENDRESS: It's best to just avoid holding whatever item you're cutting. And if you are going to hold what you're cutting, always cut away from yourself.
FOLKENFLIK: Let's hear from an expert at handling avocados.
WILMER CARCAMO: Cut avocados very easy for Rosa Mexicano (laughter).
FOLKENFLIK: Wilmer Carcamo is executive chef of Rosa Mexicano here in Washington, D.C. They go through about 2,000 avocados a week. Chef Carcamo has never cut himself, even though his technique does involve hitting the pit with a knife.
CARCAMO: And we stick the knife on the seed, and then we just move it to the right side and left side.
FOLKENFLIK: That motion loosens up the pit just enough so it slips right out of the fruit...
CARCAMO: Kind of like this, OK?
FOLKENFLIK: ...When he knocks it against a clean container. Then he uses a spoon to scoop out that buttery green good stuff. No cuts, no pain, no avocado hand for him or for you if you use this method. But Chef Carcamo says there's one other crucial thing you should avoid when making guac for your Super Bowl party.
CARCAMO: No garlic, no limes.
FOLKENFLIK: That's his recipe, anyway, for a real winner, no matter if you're rooting for the 49ers or the Chiefs.
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