Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Safety' in Overdrive: Pasteurizing Almonds

The nuts are definitely in charge of the nut-house.

As everyone knows, our food supply is dirty. Runoff from industrial farms often carry pathogenic bacteria into crops, as was the case of the organic spinach debacle. Well, there were a few cases of salmonells that were traced back to almonds (not organic) so what's the USDA's response? Spray liberally with pesticide. Nasty! So any almonds, even organic ones, sold at your local health food store are not raw and may be filled with chemicals. Our friends from Local Harvest say

The new protocols require all raw almonds sold in North America to be pasteurized, thereby killing off any wayward bacteria. How? By quick-steaming the nuts, or spraying them with propylene oxide (PPO), a chemical so nasty that it was banned by both the National Hot Rod and American Motorcycle Racing Associations, where it had been used as a fuel before being deemed too dangerous. PPO is also a carcinogen. For these and other reasons, most countries, including the EU, ban imported nuts treated with PPO. (The ABC is actively working to change that.) read more

So what's an eater to do? If you live in California, you can often buy nuts direct from the grower, and since this is an extra-retail transaction they don't have to pastuerize. Ask around. I buy ours by mail from a nice lady who I thought I was going to send a lot of business on the blog but she begged me not to, because she feels she is getting set up to be busted by the Feds--weird phone calls, etc. And given what happened to the people on that farm in Ohio, I am not sure she isn't in the wrong.

There are two other mail places where you can make your Last Stand to get unadulterated, pure, unpasteurized, uncooked, truly raw almonds.

Vital Choice and
Living Nuts (try their teriyaki flavored nuts!)

They ARE expensive, though. I think to guarantee the purity, both places buy their nuts from Europe--not the best carbon footprint, but it's not their fault!