Raw Almonds

Raw Almonds

So, I’ve been trying to eat healthier over the past eight or nine months, and a lot of better choices have made their way into my regimen. No, not the usual low-fat/low-cal/low-carb crap that is pumped full of additives and promoted as a breakthrough panacea by health experts on Oprah before it is pulled from the market for causing death in lab rats. I’ve taken to eating much more nutritious, wholesome foods, and have tried to counteract my affinity for beer and cheese with regular servings of raw vegetables, leafy greens and the like.

Now, I’m certainly no Woody Harrelson all raw foodie or anything like that, but I definitely have placed more emphasis on eating minimally processed foods, which at the core of its definition would indicate a leaning towards raw ingredients. So, as I was scooping my raw organic almonds into a baggy from the Whole Foods bulk bins (prepared to pay a generous $15.99/lb for them too), I notice what I will from henceforth refer to as “the last straw.”

Just as I’m sealing up my expensive little bag, I see a sign alerting me that back in 2007 (where the hell have I been?), a ruling was made that required all almonds grown in the United States to undergo pasteurization, even those that are labeled as “raw.” WTF? Are they serious? And while “raw” organic almonds have to be steam pasteurized, conventionally grown almonds are often sterilized with propylene oxide, a compound that the FDA’s homies, the EPA, call a “mild [central nervous system] depressant” and a “probable human carcinogen.”

Oh yes, please, FDA, save us from the pure, nutritious, unadulterated bounty of earth by spraying it with a synthetic chemical wondergas that causes “moderate acute toxicity from inhalation, high acute toxicity from dermal exposure, and moderate to high acute toxicity from ingestion.” Phew, that was close! There could have been enzymes and beneficial bacteria on that nutrient dense almond. I feel much safer now — thank you!

You can be assured that pasteurized almonds are as nutritious and delicious as unpasteurized almonds. The almond industry invested in independent nutritional lab analyses of pasteurized versus unpasteurized almonds. Those tests did not reveal any degradation of the taste, quality or nutritional value of treated almonds.  – The Almond Board, “Spineless Industry Group of the Year”

Apparently, this all stems from two reported cases of salmonella linked to conventionally grown almonds back in 2004. Yup, two hypochondriac assclowns are the reason that hundreds of thousands of tons of almonds — including organic almonds, which were never indicated in the massive, two-incident “outbreak” — HAVE to be pasteurized. I’ve long allowed the FDA to flex its muscle and badger its way into my life. I guess I can tolerate them telling me what I shouldn’t eat, but when it comes to telling me what I can’t eat, that’s where a line needs to be drawn. While I’ve certainly lamented the ridiculous rules behind raw milk and raw milk cheeses, I’ve limited my kvetching to a certain degree because there are loopholes, and here in sunny SoCal, many of these contraband items are fairly easily accessible. (Thank you Rawesome!) And while I did learn there is an almond technicality as well that allows consumers to buy up to 100 pounds directly from a grower, it really makes you question the government’s priorities.

Whatever happened to consumer choice? Hell, slap a huge label on it telling me I’m going to die à la cigarettes. Make it as big as the entire package for all I care. I’ll smile and let you tell me I shouldn’t eat it all day long, so long as you’re willing to let me flip you the bird while sippin’ on a frosty mug of unpasteurized, unhomogenized, so-freaking-delicious-and-ridiculously-nutritious raw milk.

Anyway, pardon my rant. I’m just tired of being bullied around and being kept from eating natural food the way it was meant to be enjoyed, rather than being forced into this monocuisine that the government agencies are striving to engineer. In the meantime, I’ve submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the FDA asking for more information regarding the mandatory pasteurization of almonds, and will update once I’ve heard back.

You can be assured that pasteurized almonds are as nutritious and
delicious as unpasteurized almonds. The almond industry invested in
independent nutritional lab analyses of pasteurized versus
unpasteurized almonds. Those tests did not reveal any degradation of
the taste, quality or nutritional value of treated almonds.