The Ecological Impact of Almonds

Do you substitute half&half with almond milk? Or do you snack on almonds for a quick stomach fill? Well, I do. Oddly enough, I have never considered the ecological footprint for the production of almonds, have you? Well, according to the well-regarded California Almonds Organization, it takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow a single almond. In a classic serving size, there are 23 almonds. This calculates to 25.3 gallons of water used to make only 1 serving of almonds. The amount of water used per one serving of almonds is more than quadruple the amount of water used for an efficient dishwasher to run or for an efficient toilet to flush according to the in class activity. Also, 99% of the total production of almonds comes from California. California also produces 80% of the world’s production. As California is in a current drought, and the fact that almonds require 10% of California’s total water supply each year, one could say that this statistic is astounding. But, if you were to purchase 1 quart size container of almond milk, and use it for your cereal or in your coffee, you are consuming less than half of a serving of almonds, which is about 12.7 gallons of water, which is comparable to 5 loads of laundry. The effect of the amount of water required for almonds must be relatively compared, like all products. This is exemplified by comparing the amount of water required to produce 1 gram of protein from almonds and beef. For almonds, 1 gram of protein requires 4 gallons of water, while for 1 gram of beef; 27 gallons of water are needed. As for water amount, it takes 6 times less the amount of water to produce protein out of almonds than it is from beef.

5 thoughts on “The Ecological Impact of Almonds

  1. I have always looked at almonds as a healthier option, but I never realized how much water it takes to produce them. It is even crazier that they are mass produced in an area that constantly struggles with droughts. It makes you wonder how water sustainability could affect California’s drought problem. This is a really interesting topic that should definitely get more attention.

  2. You do a great job of highlighting the potentially detrimental costs towards the production of healthier alternatives. This really brings to light a central issue of the cost of benefitting humanity at the sake of the environment. As we progress through the future, I feel that California will be forced to address their water shortages in relation to their massive almost productions. From what you have highlighted, it seems that the extent to which California produces Almonds, proves unsustainable long term. We should really start to look towards affordable (both monetarily and environmentally) solutions that not only present healthier options for humanity, but do not come at the cost of something as critical and important as drinking water.

  3. I knew almonds weren’t the best for the environment, but I did not know that they were this bad. As soon as you compared it to how many loads of laundry you could do, I was really able to visualize how much water is actually being wasted to produce almond milk. Though it is a good alternative to regular milk, I could still reconsider what kind of nut milk I buy because almond milk is typically what I go for.

  4. I switched to soy milk on finding out about the water footprint almonds have on the environment, but to really see the numbers and the math behind it made it all the more real and reinforced the switch. It makes me wonder if it’s worth cutting out almonds from our diets to a certain extent, but can’t help but be conflicted because of all the nutritional benefits almonds have (especially for vegetarians/vegans seeking non-meat protein options).

  5. This post left me with much the same feeling as Megan’s. While it is shocking to see the statistics behind the water needed to grow a single almond, I still wonder whether people will be willing to change their habits. I know plenty of people who eat almonds, myself included, as an easy and quick snack. I question if they’ll be willing to give them up on account of how much water they waste.

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