The USDA ban on raw almonds is a food freedom issue, not a food safety issue!

Almonds[Update:  On February 22, 2013: the DC Court of Appeals "held that California almond producers don’t currently have the right to even argue that the USDA overstepped the bounds of its authority with the Almond Rule."   The Almond Rule had actually extended the power of the USDA to "mandate how dairy, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and animals are processed." (source)  Another blow to food freedom!]

Whether or not you eat, or even like, almonds, you should care about the USDA’s ban on raw almonds, because the ban is most certainly a Food Freedom issue.  U.S. organic almond growers are not free to sell their natural raw product and we, as consumers, cannot buy raw almonds grown in the U.S.  In 2007, the USDA mandated that all U.S. grown almonds be pasteurized (heated) or, for non-organic almonds, gassed with the toxic gas propylene oxide (PPO), a probable human carcinogen.  Almonds treated with PPO are banned in Canada and the European Union but allowed, even encouraged by the ban, in the US.

Don’t be fooled if you’ve seen U.S. almonds labeled “raw.”  The USDA allows almond growers and processors to label almonds as “raw” even though they’ve been pasteurized or gassed!  How about that?  Is that truth in labeling?

Why did the USDA impose a ban on raw almonds? A few people became ill from Salmonella traced to open containers of non-organic almonds in 2004.  Likely in fear that people would stop buying almonds, large agribusinesses asked the USDA to ban the sale of raw U.S. grown almonds.  Since it seems that the USDA almost always does whatever big agribusiness wants, a ban was issued on the sale of US grown raw almonds in the U.S.

There is no similar restriction on imported almonds, even though there is no difference in the risk of illness between imported and U.S. grown raw almonds! US customers now must buy much more expensive imported almonds, if they want their almonds raw and unprocessed. In another strange twist of the law, U.S. growers may ship their raw almonds overseas with no restrictions!   Unbelievable but true!  They just can’t sell them in the U.S.  How weird!  Another oddity with the ban–growers can sell their raw almonds at farm stands but not in organic food stores or any retail store.  Does this seem like a true food safety issue?  Of course not.  It’s a food freedom issue!  It’s a market control issue.

The ban on raw almonds has hit the California organic almond growers especially hard.  Customers who want organic almonds often want them raw and unprocessed.  The California organic almond growers sued the USDA in 2008 to regain their right to sell raw almonds.   The USDA has pursued this case very aggressively, partly because it is viewed as a test case for the USDA which wants the power to require all raw, healthful foods to be “killed” (the “kill step” so favored by the FDA’s John Sheehan) by pasteurization, gas, irradiation or other processes.  The USDA’s view is that “killing” all raw foods is good for the consumer, because killing bacteria makes foods safer!?

Why should we want raw unprocessed almonds instead of cooked or gassed almonds?  First let’s just acknowledge that no one should eat almonds gassed with a carcinogenic.

So let’s move to the second treatment–pasteurization/heating of organic almonds. We buy raw almonds because they are rich in nutrients.  We don’t want those nutrients damaged or reduced by heating (pasteurization).  Almonds are high in protein (with a fairly well balanced amino acid content), linoleic acid (the body’s main essential fatty acid), vitamin E, and contain phytonutrients.  They are very good sources of many minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.  Pasteurization destroys enzymes and valuable phytonutrients and lowers vitamin E content.

Even if heating weren’t destructive of nutrients, do we really want the USDA to have the right to ban any raw foods, any foods?  The USDA’s FDA is also trying very hard to ban raw milk.  This is definitely a food rights, food freedom issue!  If the USDA wins this one, what food is next?  It is essential that we have the basic, fundamental right to choose the foods we want to eat for our health and that of our children.  Our health and our lives depend on it!

How can we help the California organic almond growers?   We can donate to help them win their lawsuit against the USDA.  They have already been hurt economically from the lack of raw almond sales, and, as you probably know, this type of litigation takes many years to process through the legal system. Visit Action for Almonds to help with their legal expenses so that they can continue fighting the USDA so they once again may sell their healthy, untreated almonds.

We can also tell others about the attempts to restrict our freedom to choose the foods we want to eat.  The more knowledge people have about what is being done to our food supply, the less they will be fooled by misleading labels such as those calling cooked/gassed almonds “raw.”   We need accurate labeling. We need to know what’s in our food and what’s been done to it!

Sources:

Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M. Haas, MD,
Almonds, The Weston A. Price Foundation

Photo credit: Wikipedia

This post is shared on Fill Those Jars Friday: October 19, 2012, Freaky Friday 10/19/2012, Monday Mania 10/22/2012 and Fat Tuesday: October 23, 2012.

This entry was posted in Access to Good Food, Food Freedom, Food Rights, Food Safety, Nutrition, Organic Food, Real Food, USDA and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The USDA ban on raw almonds is a food freedom issue, not a food safety issue!

  1. Robert Gonzalez says:

    Fundamentally, this is an issue of money as is everything else in this plutocracy. You can bet some corporation is profiting from the banning of raw almonds and it’s likely the producers of the canned almond products. I may be wrong but rarely does anything occur in this country pertaining to consumer issues, not a way to restrict one entity so that another entity(s) can grab more money by eliminating competition. This is the way of America today. We are a corrupt corporate run country. As long as lobbyists are allowed to give away huge amounts of money to pay off those lawmakers (FDA) who make these decisions, this will continue across the board with everything we consume, purchase or otherwise pay money for. Corporate American has a “More money is better” attitude, regardless of what the topic of conversation is about.

  2. june Noble says:

    overhaul the USDA, the FDA, the DEA, The CDC, etc etc etc… tired as can be of crap education, crap food, crap bully bureaucrats.

  3. Rene' Adams says:

    This makes me so mad!! How dare they (FDA) hide anything from us!! We should have the choice to eat something or not based on our own personal guidelines. I don’t like being kept in the dark on ingredients or how something is processed. It should be mandatory for all labels to be correct and true, no matter how good or bad it is.

  4. This is another infuriating example of how how we are being duped. I wrote about this topic a couple of months ago here: http://www.chicshadesofgreen.com/al-most-raw-almonds-the-deception-of-the-almond-industry/

    I was happy to find some real raw almonds in the bulk section of my health food store. They’re Sicilian and they say right on the label “unpasteurized”, so I bought a whole bunch.

    It’s absolutely ridiculous how US almonds can be exported and Italian almonds can be imported unpasteurized. Let us just buy raw foods as we want to. And of course, the farmers are losing money in this, it’s the processors that are raking in the profits because they own the machinery.

  5. Theresa P. says:

    And they call the US, the land of the free. This is not freedom of choice. and yes, I agree it is all about greed. They are all getting FAT wallets, and we get POISONED &/or DEAD food. I am shamed of what this country has become.The land of the corrupt and greedy. I am understanding more of why many in other countries hate the U.S.

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