Almonds: are they really ‘raw’?

I really like the website and information that the Cornucopia Institute offers. They provide relevant education and in turn support “the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture”. In a world where few sources are to be trusted regarding the food we’re eating, the Cornucopia Institute appears to be a relevant source of honest and ecologically sound information on organic agriculture and practises.

An example of such information ‘awakenings’ through them is on the topic of ‘raw almonds. Did you know that the labeled raw almonds you might be eating are in fact not truly raw? I knew that almonds exported from the US to Canada were indeed pasteurized, but it seems that any almonds purchased within North America or Mexico are indeed partially sterilized (via heat treatment or irradiation). If pasteurized, the nutritional content of a raw almond is greatly reduced, but by how much, that figure is uncertain. What does this mean for you the North American consumer? Pasteurized almonds are no longer natural or raw. Anytime a food is heated above 105 degrees, the nutritional value of the food begins to be destroyed. The higher the temperature the more damage that is done. For someone like me who loves the potential nutritional value and viability of almonds (especially when soaked and germinated), I was taken aback by this info:

The demise of the raw almond
© Mike Adams

California-grown raw almonds are no longer raw, following enactment of a new federal rule. The USDA mandate requires raw almonds to be sanitized using treatment processes that the industry generously describes as “pasteurization.”The rule requires sanitation of almonds with a toxic fumigant or treatment with high-temperature heat. The scheme imposes significant financial burdens on small-scale and organic growers, lacks scientific justification, damages domestic almond markets, and does not address the unsustainable methods used on the industrial-scale almond orchards where the only two documented Salmonella outbreaks have occurred. And the treated almonds can still be deceptively labeled as “raw!”

What does the almond pasteurization mandate mean about the almonds I purchase?
California growers (essentially all who grow almonds in the U.S.) must pasteurize their almonds if they are going to be sold raw and sold to markets in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

There are two exceptions to the raw almond pasteurization mandate:
1. Exports of raw almonds to foreign countries (excluding Canada and Mexico) do not have to be pasteurized. (This says to us that other countries don’t want pasteurized nuts and/or we don’t care about any potential health impacts for those consumers eating nuts that haven’t been treated).
2. Farmers can sell untreated raw almonds, in maximum lot sizes of 100#, directly to consumers from their farmsteads or at a farmers market. In other words, you can buy direct if you visit the farmers.

It’s a tough world out there in trying to feed my family and myself with nutritional, whole and healthy sustenance, not bogged down by misleading information or labels. It takes a lot of work to eat as natural to the food source as one can get (i.e. raw). How do you feel about being misled by the labels of the food that we’re eating??

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