Almond milk has become a popular dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk, touted for its health benefits and creamy texture.
However, recent studies have raised concerns about the heavy use of pesticides in almond production and the presence of harmful chemicals in store-bought almond milk.
In this article, we’ll explore the question on many people’s minds: does almond milk contain pesticides? We’ll also delve into the potential health risks associated with conventional almond milk and offer tips on how to choose a healthier, safer option.
So, let’s get started!
Does Almond Milk Contain Pesticides?
Yes, unfortunately, almond milk production involves the heavy use of pesticides. In fact, almonds are sprayed with more pesticides than any other crop in California. This is a concerning issue as these pesticides can have harmful effects on both human health and the environment.
New laboratory testing commissioned by Moms Across America has shown the presence of glyphosate, the world’s most used herbicide, in almond milk, vegetarian burgers, bread, and even peanut butter and tea. Glyphosate is a known carcinogen and has been linked to a range of health issues. The testing revealed that conventional almond milk contained glyphosate at a level of 0.87 ppb and certified organic almond milk contained 0.07 ppb.
Furthermore, after a few salmonella outbreaks were traced to California-grown almonds in the early 2000s, the USDA implemented a rule requiring the pasteurization of all California almonds. This rule applies to both conventional and organic almonds and involves various methods such as steaming, dry-roasting, and fumigation with propylene oxide (PPO). PPO is a toxic chemical used in many non-food applications and is a suspected carcinogen. Glyphosate is also widely used to treat almonds, according to a 2016 EPA document that was released and then retracted.
The Use Of Pesticides In Almond Production
Almond production heavily relies on the use of pesticides, making it one of the most concerning aspects of almond milk production. Almonds are sprayed with more pesticides than any other crop in California, which can have harmful effects on both human health and the environment. Glyphosate, the world’s most used herbicide, is widely applied to almond crops in California, with 89% of almond crops treated with this pesticide, according to the EPA. Glyphosate is a known carcinogen and has been linked to a range of health issues.
Moreover, the USDA implemented a rule requiring the pasteurization of all California almonds after a few salmonella outbreaks were traced to California-grown almonds in the early 2000s. This rule applies to both conventional and organic almonds and involves various methods such as steaming, dry-roasting, and fumigation with propylene oxide (PPO). PPO is a toxic chemical used in many non-food applications and is a suspected carcinogen.
The heavy use of pesticides in almond production poses a significant concern for bee farmers as well. Almond milk contains high levels of pesticides and fungicides that can harm bees directly and indirectly. Pesticides disrupt bees’ communication abilities and make it difficult for them to fly or find food. Fungicides kill off beneficial microbes in their gut that allow them to digest pollen and nectar, weakening their immune systems and making them more susceptible to other diseases and parasites.
The Presence Of Pesticides In Store-Bought Almond Milk
The presence of pesticides in store-bought almond milk is a major concern for consumers. As mentioned earlier, conventional almond milk has been found to contain glyphosate at a level of 0.87 ppb, while certified organic almond milk contained 0.07 ppb. This means that even organic almond milk may not be completely free from pesticide residues.
Glyphosate is not the only pesticide used in almond production. The USDA Pesticide Data Program has found residues of nine different pesticides on almonds, five of which are toxic to honey bees. This heavy use of pesticides has contributed to contamination of California’s already limited water sources, especially for farm communities.
Consumers should also be aware that the pasteurization process required for all California almonds, including those used to make almond milk, involves the use of toxic chemicals such as PPO. While the USDA considers PPO safe for use on food, it is still a concerning issue for many consumers.
To avoid the potential risks associated with pesticide residues and chemical pasteurization, consumers may choose to make their own almond milk at home using organic almonds. This way, they can have more control over the ingredients and methods used in the production process. Alternatively, they can opt for other plant-based milks that have lower pesticide use and are produced without chemical pasteurization.
Health Risks Associated With Conventional Almond Milk
Due to the heavy use of pesticides in almond production, conventional almond milk can contain harmful residues of pesticides like glyphosate. Glyphosate has been linked to a range of health issues, including cancer. In addition, the pasteurization process required for all California almonds, including those used for almond milk, involves the use of toxic chemicals like propylene oxide (PPO). PPO is a suspected carcinogen and can have negative effects on human health.
Consuming conventional almond milk that contains these harmful residues can lead to increased exposure to toxins and potential health risks. While certified organic almond milk contains lower levels of glyphosate, it is still important to be aware of the potential risks associated with consuming conventional almond milk.
It’s important to note that while almond milk is a popular dairy-free alternative, there are other plant-based milk options available that may not have the same risks associated with them. For example, soy milk and oat milk are often produced without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals. When choosing a plant-based milk alternative, it’s important to read labels and choose brands that prioritize sustainability and transparency in their production methods.
Choosing A Healthier And Safer Almond Milk Option
If you are concerned about the use of pesticides in almond milk production, there are steps you can take to choose a healthier and safer option. First, look for almond milk that is certified organic. This means that the almonds used to make the milk were grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Organic certification also prohibits the use of irradiation and genetic engineering.
Another important factor to consider is the presence of additives and thickeners in almond milk. Some non-dairy milks contain carrageenan, which is a texturizing additive derived from seaweed that has been linked to gastrointestinal issues. While the FDA regards carrageenan as safe, it may be best to choose almond milk that does not contain this additive.
Thickeners and gums are also commonly added to non-dairy milks to improve texture and mouthfeel. While these are not harmful, they may be problematic for those with digestive issues. Look for almond milk with only a few necessary and familiar ingredients, without added thickeners or stabilizers.
Finally, consider making your own almond milk at home using organic almonds. This ensures that you have control over the ingredients and can avoid any potential exposure to harmful pesticides. Homemade almond milk may also be fresher and more nutritious than store-bought options.
Organic Vs. Conventional Almond Milk: What’s The Difference?
When it comes to almond milk, choosing organic can make a big difference. Certified organic almond milk means that no pesticides were used in the production process, which is better for both human health and the environment. Organic almond milk is also often produced using less water, making it a more sustainable option.
Another important factor to consider when choosing almond milk is the presence of thickeners and stabilizers. Many conventional brands of almond milk contain these additives, which can be harmful to health. Organic almond milk, on the other hand, typically contains only a few necessary and familiar ingredients, without any added thickeners or stabilizers.
It’s also important to note that organic almond milk may contain more almonds than conventional brands. This is because higher protein content usually means more almonds were used in production. However, it’s important to read the label carefully and avoid brands that contain carrageenan, an additive that has been linked to digestive issues.
How To Make Your Own Almond Milk At Home
If you’re concerned about the use of pesticides in store-bought almond milk, you may want to consider making your own at home. It’s a simple process that requires only a few ingredients and a good quality blender.
To start, soak 2 cups of raw almonds in water overnight or for at least 6 hours. Drain and rinse the almonds, then add them to your blender along with 4 cups of filtered water. You can also add a pinch of sea salt and your preferred sweetener or flavor enhancers, such as vanilla extract or unsweetened cocoa powder.
Blend the mixture for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Using a nut milk bag, strain the liquid into a bowl, making sure to squeeze out all the extra liquid. You can save the leftover almond pulp to use in other recipes.
Homemade almond milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. If you don’t think you’ll use it all in that time, you can pour half into covered ice cube trays and freeze for later use.
By making your own almond milk at home, you can control the ingredients and ensure that no harmful pesticides are used in the production process. Plus, it’s a fun and easy DIY project that can save you money in the long run.