THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT RAW ALMONDS
As I sit here typing this, I am so taken aback that I don’t know where to start. I’ve been touting the wonderful benefits of nuts, specifically raw nuts. I am feeling like a balloon that was happily floating through the air and suddenly ended up deflated and tangled in a tree wondering how I got there. Okay, okay, so maybe I’m being a bit over dramatic, but I seriously feel like I’ve been duped by the nut industry!
I have been buying raw nuts, or so I thought, because they are better for you. As I mentioned in part one of this nut blog series, raw nuts contain more phosphorous, iron, and magnesium than their roasted counterparts. Plus, they contain only healthy fats and none of the GMO fats that are added to roasted/fried nuts. So, you’re probably wondering what’s the problem, right? The problem is our food industry.
I have come to learn that even if an ingredient label lists only the nut as the sole ingredient, that does not mean it is raw. It merely indicates that it is not roasted. Even if the bag clearly states “raw” on the label, they are not raw! WHAT?! Talk about fooling the consumer. Am I the only one who is pissed off about this? I care about what I put in my body. It’s the only one I’ve got, and I’d like to help it live a long and good quality life, thank you very much! Here’s the scoop on “raw” almonds.
Nuts that are not roasted are labeled as raw. These domestic raw nuts, almonds in particular, are put through a pasteurization process that involves either steaming them or fumigating them with a carcinogenic chemical called propylene oxide (PPO). That’s the antifreeze you put in your car, by the way. What the….?!
The only way to get almonds that are raw and neither steamed nor gassed is to have them imported from outside the United States or buy them directly from growers or at farmer’s markets.
Organic almonds are always treated with the steaming process, so this would be the kind to buy if you’re buying in stores. Apparently, I’ll be throwing away A LOT of almonds today, because my health is much more important to me than money. No amount of money will ever be able to buy you good health.
This is another lesson in caveat emptor—buyer beware. You never know what you’re buying unless you educate yourself. It’s disheartening to know that this is the length we have to go to to get what we thought we were buying in the stores in the first place. Shame on you food industry! This is a good reminder that, in order to #FuelUpforaFitLife, you have to be aware of what you’re eating.
NOTE: Curious as to which pasteurization process your brand of almonds has been put through? Foodidentitytheft.com compiled this list:
Costco brand Kirkland Signature: Both the Kirkland Signature chocolate-covered and whole almonds are fumigated with PPO, which a spokesman said he was told doesn’t remain in the nuts, despite the fact that almonds containing residues of up to 300 parts per million of this chemical, which California regards as a “known carcinogen,” can be legally sold.
Planters: The age-old Planters brand (now a division of Kraft Foods) told Food Identity Theft that all of its almonds are steam treated, even ones that receive further heat treatments such as oil or dry roasting.
Diamond of California: All Diamond brand almonds receive the PPO gas treatment. A Diamond, spokesperson added that it’s possible the company’s Emerald line of roasted almonds (referred to as “snack nuts”) may be “pasteurized” as well, but they have not confirmed that as of yet.
Blue Diamond Almonds: While its sliced and slivered almonds are steam pasteurized, its whole-nut “natural” line is treated with the toxic PPO gas, according to a representative. Other Blue Diamond Almonds products such as Almond Breeze, Nut Chips and Nut Thins, however, use steam-treated almonds, with any whole “naturals” going to Canada being steamed rather than fumigated.
Whole Foods store 365 brand: All Whole Foods-labeled almonds are steam-treated, since the use of PPO gas, according to a company spokesperson, would be “completely unacceptable to our standards.”
Back to Nature: After a very long wait (and some very bad call-waiting music), we were informed that this brand, which is also owned by Kraft Foods, only uses the steam method.
Superior Nut Company: Every single one of Superior’s non-organic almonds are fumigated with PPO. However, the organic selection sold in bulk at the company’s website, NutsinBulk.com, is not fumigated. In fact, if these almonds are indeed imported from Spain as the company told us they are (although it’s not confirmed at the website), they could be truly “raw” and not even be required to receive the steam treatment.
Trader Joe’s store brand: Trader Joe’s reported that “no almond with our name on it” would ever receive the gas treatment, meaning all of the company’s branded almonds are steam-treated.