You Mean I Can’t Eat Almonds?

In Green Satire, Videos by John Robinette0 Comments

About This Video

In this episode of The Sister Eden Sitcom, Lori gets frustrated when she learns the shocking truth about almonds. And we did not get paid to feature their product!

About the Peanuts

The peanuts featured in this video are from Feridies in Courtland, Virginia, approximately 196 miles from the Sister Eden Studios.

More About This Video

We are four years into California’s epic drought and it is the worst in 500 years. Now, an equally epic El Nino cycle is looming, along with epic rains and mudslides. And California also grows a lot of our food. California is the number 1 producer of over 60 food items we eat, including almonds.

It’s really an amazing human accomplishment to think that we in Maryland, a continent away, can enjoy fresh lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, and yes, almonds, from California. But it’s also a little concerning that so much that we eat comes from a place with an ever increasing water shortage with drastic weather swings.

So What’s Wrong With Almonds?

Recently a Mother Jones article caught our eye and made us wonder about our almond habit (ok, addiction). Yes, we do shop local. We belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that delivers fresh fruit and veggies from the DMV (Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia) area, and we shop at a local food Co-Op that stocks its shelves with many locally produced choices. But some items, like almonds, can’t be found nearby and have to be imported.

Almonds are very popular these days. They are a healthy, vegetarian protein source and contain a number of micronutrients that put them up at the top of the health-foodie list. But we had to ask ourselves if it made sense to keep eating almonds (and we ate a lot!) since we were choosing a plant-based diet in large part because of the environmental impacts of eating meat, dairy, and eggs. What about non-meat foods that have to either travel a long way or consume a lot of resources? And almonds use a lot of water and have to travel quite a distance to get to Maryland.

A Local (for Us) Alternative

So we decided to switch to peanuts. Peanuts are popular over here in the Mid-Atlantic and South-East. Peanuts may not have the same ideal nutritional profile as almonds, but we love them. I’ve been eating peanut butter since forever. My dad grew up in North Georgia. I remember visiting my grandparents and buying paper bags of warm, steamy freshly boiled peanuts. Yum! Of course we are lucky to not have any peanut allergies in our family, so this specific choice may not be an option for everyone.

Mindful Eating

But the larger point is about mindfulness. And in this case, being mindful of what we eat and understanding, even just a little bit, about where our food comes from. If everyone were to move to a largely plant-based, locally sourced diet, we could drastically reduce our green house emissions. Which means, if the only people who ate almonds were on the the West Coast, the environmental impact would be smaller.

And What’s Wrong with Quinoa?

Yeah, we love quinoa too. It’s another great vegetable protein source. It grows primarily in the Andean region of South America. It’s gained enormous popularity in the past several years as the world has discovered its nutritional value and versatility in different dishes as higher-protein substitute for rice or couscous or just for its own deliciousness. This super-food is right up there with our almonds and other recent trendy health-foodie items like goji berries and blueberries.

But then we read this article and learned that the spike in global demand has driven quinoa prices up to the point where the local Peruvians and Bolivians who depend on quinoa as their local staple could no longer afford it and now rely on lower quality imported junk foods.

Another crazy outcome of globalization!

Mindful Eating

So here we are back to eating local as a guiding principle. Now, we don’t want to be food fascists. We enjoy the occasional fair trade, organic dark chocolate that comes from Western Africa and Coffee from Central America or Ethiopia. The point, again, is mindfulness, and to recognize how our consumer choices impact others and the environment. And encouraging news: Capitalism and innovation can create benefits. Enterprising U.S. farmers are experimenting with quinoa strains that do well in North America. So stay tuned. Maybe your CSA will someday carry a locally sourced quinoa.

John Robinette

John Robinette

John is married to Lori and father of two awesome young men all of whom he shares his passion for the environment. When he is not Chief Strategy Officer for Sister Eden he loves to cook and read and be outdoors and fantasizes about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Other essays by John about life, death, and love can be found at his blog Hole in the Sun.

To visit John's blog, click on his name right above.
John Robinette

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