Why is Almond Milk Bad for the Environment?

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Over the past few years, almond milk has been trending. People with dietary restrictions love it because it’s soy free, dairy free and vegan. It’s perfect for individuals who don’t eat meat products as well as those that are lactose intolerant.

People also drink it because it’s said to leave a lower carbon footprint than dairy milk due to its low greenhouse gas emissions. It also does not require as much land to grow its raw materials.  But recently, other ecological issues have surfaced.

Read on to find out why almond milk is bad for the environment.

The Issues with Almond Milk Production

According to an article published in the New York Times, the issue may not be with the milk, but with the almonds themselves. California, which is known for its almond production, uses about 15 gallons of water to produce just 16 almonds. This makes them one of the biggest water consuming crops in the state. And while almonds are healthy, one must wonder just how worth it those health benefits are.

California produces more than two billion almonds a year causing large amounts of ground and surface waters to be diverted from the state’s aqueduct system for irrigation. With the state being prone to drought, one can see how dangerous the situation is.

Additionally, a good number of almonds are grown on land converted from natural land or farms that once grew low water crops to meet the rising demand for almonds. This is largely due to the popularity of almond milk, a market that increased by 250% between 2010 and 2015. According to an article in Forbes magazine, 23,000 acres of natural lands are now being used to farm almonds.

The consequences are already apparent. The ground in San Joaquin Valley, where most California almonds are grown, is beginning to sink due to water depletion. It has negatively affected farmers who were building to irrigate orchard crops. It has also impacted drinking water supply.

The pesticides used on commercial almond crops are also contributing to the problem. The chemicals in the products have been found to contaminate the limited amount of water that’s left. They are also toxic to honeybees that play an essential role in the ecosystem.

Possible Solutions

The almond situation is becoming a real concern, but there are solutions available.

The Almond Board of California is making efforts to promote the organic production of almonds which would make for more sustainable water use. This is a trend that is beginning to become more popular with farmers.

People can also work at home to reduce the impact in the following ways:

·      Consider other non-dairy milk options such as goat’s milk and sheep’s milk.

·      Use organic almonds to make almond milk at home.

·      Purchase certified organic almond milk that uses less water and no pesticides during production.

·      Avoid brands that contain carrageenan, a thickener that’s known to cause digestive issues.

Almond milk is a tasty solution for people with dietary restrictions, but it comes with its share of environmental downsides. Now that you are aware of the issues, what will you be doing to reduce the negative effects it’s been having on the Earth?