I am not sure what the word for it is… alarming, disturbing, infuriating, disheartening? I guess I feel a bit of all those when it comes to the laws on almonds produced and sold in the United States. Here is a quick run down of the law:
Since September, 2007, all almonds produced in the U.S. are required by the USDA to be pasteurized before being sold. Pasteurization is a treatment process that uses high temperature heat or a toxic fumigant to “sanitize” the food, after which the food is no longer raw by definition. Despite this fact, the USDA allows for the almonds to be labeled “raw,” totally misleading consumers. For more details, here is one article, among the countless others out there, from the Alliance for Natural Health.
Vegan health & nutrition is my passion so I do research daily to discover and share information like this. Most Americans don’t have the time and energy to spend discovering things like this for themselves. Most people make decisions based on the food labels, assuming that the nutrition facts, regulated by the government, are truthful. This is why I am so up in arms over this topic… its impossible for people to make an informed decision when the information is wrong!
Changing focus, you may be asking, are raw almonds THAT much better for you than roasted ones? After doing the research, I choose, for the most part, to eat organic raw nuts and seeds over roasted ones. This article gives a good run down of the reasons behind my decision. Another good tip is to keep them in the refrigerator instead of the pantry to keep them from going bad (& prevent bacteria growth).
The good news is that it’s still possible to purchase truly raw, unpasteurized, organic almonds and almond butter. I often purchase mine from Wilderness Poets. They import their almonds from Italy. They also carry a great Nut Milk Making Kit that makes it fairly simple and easy to make your own almond milk.