Our Thing For Almond Milk Isn’t So Great For The Environment

Our Thing For Almond Milk Isn't So Great For The Environment


by Grazia |

This week Waitrose announced that almond milk has over-taken soya milk. Almonds are so 'of the moment' that the cost of almonds in the UK has almost doubled in the past five years.

It's not just those with dairy intolerences turning to almond milk - it is being added to cuppas as it has fewer calories than skimmed milk and is recommended to those with acne. Even Dunkin' Donuts now serves almond milk.

Earlier this year we reported on how almond milk was in the firing line for not being a superfood after all. Almond milk manufacturers Blue Diamond were at the centre of a lawsuit as their almond milk apparently only contains 2% almonds - although this is a common percentage for almond milk in our supermarkets.

Nutrionist Kamilla Schaffner of My London Nutritionist, told us, "It's not uncommon for producers to claim their products have health benefits, when the product only contains minimal amounts of the advertised ingredient. The legislation in this area is still very ambiguous." Kamilla added "Almond milk itself is a great alternative to cow's dairy, especially for people wanting to manage their cholesterol levels."

But it isn't just the nutritional qualities of almond milk that have been questioned recently, as it turns out our thing for almond milk lattes also has an impact on the environment. It has been argued that the production of almonds is wasting water, as it takes 5 litres of water to grow just one almond. Eighty percent of the world's almond crop is grown in California which is in its fourth year of serious droughts. The surge in popularity of almonds has led to 44 per cent more land being used to farm almonds than it was 10 years ago.

Carolee Krieger, president of the California Water Impact Network, explained the issue to Grazia Daily: "The issue isn't that almond milk is bad for the environment per se - the real problem is that almonds are planted in inappropriate places in California, and usurp an unjustified portion of our scant water resources. Almonds are a particularly thirsty crop. They use 10.5 percent of agricultural water allotments, or about 3.75 million acre feet. That's a huge amount of water - enough to satisfy the requirements of about 15 million people for a year. And the problem is just getting worse. Between 2004 and 2014, almond acreage in the state jumped from 640,000 acres to 1,02,000 acres. Even during the current drought, the worst in California's history, new plantings are going in, further depleting our water supplies."

She adds: "Corporate growers claim they are producing 'food for the nation,' but almonds are a luxury crop, and most of California's production is sold for export. In other words, we're exporting our water - in the form of almonds - overseas, while citizens must contend with water restrictions."

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