Where Oh Where Have All the Almonds Gone? (An update)

Where Oh Where Have All the Almonds Gone? (An Update)

Not only do many store bought almond milks contain only about 2% almonds but many are harboring a scary ingredient.  Is your almond milk causing inflammation and disease?

When I saw my daughter drinking almond milk the other day, and sharing it with her friends who were happily slurping it down, I realized everybody these days is drinking almond milk. As a beverage, almond milk has shown the greatest growth spurt of all the alternative milk products. It expanded by 40 percent in dollar sales between 2013 and 2014, according to a report from Packaged Foods, a Rockville, Md.-based market research firm that tracks dairy and nondairy beverage sales. Within the next three years, it is projected to grow from 5 percent of the current market to 19 percent.

 

I understand why. It's clean and refreshing looking, with a nice white-ish color, and flows smoothly, like velvet would if velvet were liquid. It reminds us of the cow's milk many of us grew up drinking. In fact, it's used frequently as a substitute for cows' milk, and, as well, as an alternative to all the other plant-based milks: coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, even oatmeal milk. We liberally pour it in coffee, smoothies, golden milk, and drink it contentedly, too, as a stand-alone drink.

 

As well as being nostalgic for the older crowd, like myself, it happens to also taste delicious. Even the commercial, cheaper store-bought variety is delicious. Why shouldn't it be? It's mostly sugar water. Everyone loves downing a good blast of sugar. But how many people does it take to screw in a light bulb and be able to actually count the almonds that almond milk is made from?

 

Well, that's the question of a few recent lawsuits. It leads us to wonder if eating natural isn't always good for us. Or, maybe the more legitimate question is whether what is touted as "natural" is sometimes not even close to being "natural." Two commercial sellers of almond milk, Blue Diamond and WhiteWave Foods, have been accused of false advertising and deceptive marketing. The lawsuits, one filed in San Jose and two others in New York, contend that their almond milk brands—Almond Breeze and Silk—falsely claim to be "all natural," or made "mainly from almonds." The lawsuit alleges that contrary to packaging claims, almond milks "are not primarily made from almonds;" rather the bulk of the products are made from additives, sweeteners and thickening agents, such as locust bean gum, xanthan gum and carrageenan. It seems that almond milk often contains only 2 percent almonds.

 

According to New York attorney James Kelly who has filed one of the suits, the legal question is about fair advertising and fair disclosure.  Kelly says:

"Plaintiffs have purchased these products because they relied on health claims and they paid a premium for the product because they believed it contained a significant amount of almonds. Defendants are making huge profits by falsely advertising to create higher demand."

 

False advertising is unfair to the consumer. But, the legal issue is only the beginning of the problems with almond milk. More importantly is the health issue. As I covered in my previous article on GMI and on my own newsletter, MusingsFrom20thStreet.com, almonds, even those labeled as "organic," are almost never organic. According to a regulation passed in 2007, all almonds grown in this country must go through a process of "mandatory sterilization," otherwise known as pasteurization or cooking. Allowable methods include oil roasting, dry roasting, blanching, steam processing, irradiation, and, finally, but most scarily of all, the application of propylene oxide (PPO). PPO is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a class B2 carcinogen. Thus, there is the likelihood that when you are eating almonds, even those labeled as raw and organic, if they have been grown in the U.S., you are, as well as consuming a nut that has loads of healthy benefits, also ingesting a known cancer-producing substance.

 

Thankfully, there is one exemption to the law mandating that all U.S. grown almonds be treated. The sole exception is if the almond farmer has a ROADSIDE STAND. The farm I have been using reliably for several years now is Bremner Farms.

 

But, the problem with drinking almonds is even worse than eating almonds. To their credit, both almond milk companies being sued have decided to remove one of the additives—carrageenan—from their almond milk products. Why? Because the research on its negative effects on the body is unassailable. Keep reading...

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