We are all aware of the ever-increasing importance of being eco-friendly and protecting the environment. If you have just taken part in Veganuary, you will undoubtedly know that making eating choices that benefit the environment is one of the pillars of veganism. However, some foods that are incredibly healthy for you are not considered the most environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, the humble almond is amongst those getting a bad press over recent years. At Rollagranola we love nuts, as you know, with almonds being one of our favourites and so we decided to take a closer look to see if they really are as bad for the environment as some would have us believe.
The health benefits of almonds are considerable. They are nutrient-rich, high in protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats but are they a sustainable choice? Almonds, along with pistachios, walnuts and cashews are some of the most water-intensive crops grown today. Over 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California where you are more likely to experience a drought than a downpour. The climate is ideal, but almonds need water all year round, which can be a problem if there isn’t any rainfall. Demand for nuts has increased dramatically, which is a good thing, and the innovative Californian farmers have been working hard to substantially improve their water efficiency and therefore make nut production more eco-friendly. The majority of the farmers now operate incredibly efficient micro-irrigation systems that conserve natural water by applying it to where the crop needs it most rather than the whole field or orchard. The results have been inspiring with the amount of water used in almond production going down by 33% over the last 20 years and, by 2025, the Californian farmers are aiming to reduce that by a further 20%.
Research by the Journal of Ecological Indicators concluded that, when ranked against other crops, almonds are amongst the most valuable for their dietary and economic benefits.