The Killing of California Almonds (comic)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
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Tags: almonds, raw almonds, raw foods

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Comments by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

As NewsTarget reported earlier this year, the Almond Board of California (ABC) has decided that all almonds grown in that state must be pasteurized, irradiated or otherwise killed, even when they're labeled "raw." This is necessary, the ABC tells us, for "safety reasons." But who's safety? Certainly not the safety of the consumer, since dead or cooked nuts are far less nutritious than living, raw nuts. It turns out the focus is on the safety of the industry, and killing all the almonds before allowing them to be sold to consumers is a way to insulate the almond industry from lawsuits stemming from rare salmonella outbreaks that afflict a tiny number of consumers with compromised immune systems.

So rather than take the risk that a few raw almonds might occasionally be contaminated and harm a few individuals, the industry believes that it's better to harm everyone equally by making sure all almonds are pasteurized or irradiated, rendering them nutritionally deficient. Or, to put it another way, the industry will knowingly put out a nutritionally inferior product to the masses in exchange for a little legal immunity of its own.

Of course, the Almond Board of California knows virtually nothing about nutrition and so does not even acknowledge any difference between raw almonds and dead almonds. It makes me wonder if the board is, itself, occupied by expired persons that the few remaining living members simply haven't bothered to remove. They seem incapable of distinguishing between living organisms and dead ones, after all. And yet the differences are tremendous: Cooked almonds have most of their natural phytonutrients destroyed by excess heat (or radiation). Protein content is diminished, fats are molecularly altered and sugars are broken down into less healthy forms. All this seems to be of no concern to the ABC, which remains convinced that cooked, dead almonds are virtually identical to raw almonds in taste, texture and nutrition.

Many almond growers, not surprisingly, are hopping mad at the ABC for this "pasteurization tyranny" that will now require almond growers to kill a perfectly good product before they can sell it to consumers. It's almost like being in the flower business and, after growing beautiful orchids for your customers, some stupid state agency comes along and says you have to cook all the flowers before you can sell them because somebody once stuck their nose in a pot of orchids and sniffed up a creepy crawler. Cooked orchids, alas, are not nearly as beautiful as living orchids.

But the ABC will hear none of it. They're determined to kill their almonds, even if it means compromising the integrity of the entire industry due to the planned false labeling that would classify dead almonds as "raw." Starting in September, when consumers pick up a bag of "raw almonds" at a health food store, they have no way of knowing if those almonds are actually raw, or if they're just pretend raw because the ABC voted to have them pasteurized (cooked) and then labeled as raw. Virtually all almonds sold in North America are grown in California, by the way. This ruling therefore impacts the whole industry.

The ABC does not even seem committed to honest labeling. If the almonds are to be pasteurized, shouldn't they be labeled, "Pasteurized"? It seems stubbornly dishonest to cook all the almonds while labeling them "raw." It's an insult to the consumer, too, but it's also par for the course when it comes to food safety: The FDA, after all, insists that both irradiated foods and GMO foods should not be labeled as such because the labels might "confuse consumers." That's right: Too much information is dangerous to consumers! Knowledge might cause them to make the wrong purchasing decision!

As a consumer, I've never felt so insulted in my entire life. Except, perhaps, for the one time a radio show host accidentally called me a doctor.

Singling out almonds

Certainly, there have been a handful of deaths due to salmonella poisoning from raw almonds. To put this in perspective, so what? Over 16,000 people died last year from drunk driving, and I don't see the feds banning cars. Over 100,000 Americans died from pharmaceuticals, and yet those remain heavily advertised everywhere. Countless millions of children have died over the years from cancers stemming from chemical food additives like sodium nitrite, hydrogenated oils and petrochemical food coloring, yet you don't see anybody jumping up and down to save those kids. But when five people croak from eating raw almonds, they treat it like it's a national emergency. Maybe terrorists are now using salmonella as a biological weapon...

But let's get real here: Eating food comes with some risk. You can die from salmonella poisoning in alfalfa sprouts, too, if you have a really weak immune system, or you could keel over from eating raw sushi at the local Japanese diner. You might croak after drinking a gallon of raw milk that went really, really bad, or you could buy the farm after eating a salad contaminated by salmonella from the knife you used to slice that contaminated chicken (70% of store-bought raw chicken meat is contaminated with salmonella, did you know?). These are inherent risks in life. Food sometimes kills you, and even when it doesn't, you sometimes get diarrhea so bad that you wish it had.

The defense against food poisoning is to have a healthy immune system and a really healthy population of friendly flora in your gut. These two things can protect you against almost any common food-borne organisms. And yet so many Americans are diseased, immunosuppressed and intestinally imbalanced (due to rampant use of antibiotics) that the authorities have decided the only way to deliver safe food is to sterilize it first. Sure, sterilization sounds like a great idea if applied to certain politicians, but it's probably not such a smart move for our food supply. (It works for the news, however. Just about every piece of news on the war in Iraq is sterilized before being broadcast to Americans...)

But why single out almonds in the first place? Spinach has been contaminated with e.coli, and so have numerous other fresh foods (onions, parsley, lettuce, etc.). Will our ever-so-vigilant government now come along and kill all those foods, too? Shall we have a dinner of wilted lettuce, dead almond slices and pasteurized salad dressing made with rape seed oil, MSG and high-fructose corn syrup? That's the food the government will put its stamp of approval on, it seems: Dead, deficient and dirt cheap.

Here's where all this is going...

The bigger picture: Dead foods lead to dead people

I have heard a theory that says the governments of the world, concerned with the population carrying capacity of planet Earth, have unleashed a plan to greatly reduce the population by destroying the nutritional value of foods and supplements. Once malnutrition becomes rampant, the theory goes, the population will collapse through disease and infertility, and the remaining few will find themselves in a happy, low-population world where they can actually afford to buy a condo.

I'm not sure I totally believe this plan, but some of what's happening with CODEX Alimentarius sure seems suspicious (as in, why would they make therapeutic doses of vitamins illegal, anyway?). On the other hand, if world leaders really wanted to kill everyone, they could just force the population to watch endless reruns of televised speeches from President Bush, and that would drive countless voters to kill themselves far more quickly.

But suppose the theories have an element of truth? Mandating the killing of fresh foods would certainly be an effective way to accelerate the diseasification and death of the population. It's also a great cover story: "We're killing all your food to HELP you! Because we care!"

I suspect, however, that the real explanation here is nothing more complicated than mass incompetence by the ABC, USDA, FDA and just about every government agency with 3 or 4 letters. Real knowledge about the nutritional value of living foods remains disturbingly rare. Conventional medicine still hasn't even accepted the idea that the human body has any real nutritional needs whatsoever (except, perhaps, for basic synthetic vitamins to prevent rickets and pellagra). Medical doctors still aren't taught nutrition in med school, and the whole raw foods movement is only starting to gain mainstream momentum. Sure, in twenty years, most people will understand there's a huge difference between living foods and dead foods, but right now, most health authorities and consumers are stuck in the world of immutable macronutrients that have no "living" properties whatsoever.

Whether you believe that the plan to destroy the nutritional value of the food supply is due to widespread incompetence or some evil plot to reduce the human population by nutritionally starving the masses, one thing remains inarguably true: Each year, more and more of your food is getting irradiated, pasteurized, homogenized, milled, processed, steam treated, dipped, bleached or otherwise altered. The result is that mainstream food is less nutritious with each passing year, and that doesn't even consider the mass mineral depletion of the soils that further contributes to the nutritional deficiency of foods.

It all comes back to the same fundamentals: If you want to be a healthy person, you'll need to source real food grown by real people who live real close by. Buy local. Support Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organizations ( Visit local farmer co-ops, and grow what you can in your own garden. Buy organic, and research the companies you're buying from. Know what you're putting in your mouth before chewing and swallowing.

After all, there are health authorities who are working hard right now to make sure that every bite you take has been sterilized for your own protection. Living matter may soon no longer allowed to be consumed by the public. Gee, isn't it nice to know the authorities are looking out for our welfare yet again? I think we should all send kind letters to the Almond Board of California, thanking them for making our food purchasing decisions so simple that even complete idiots can now eat themselves into a state of sustained malnourishment without giving it a second thought.

It is a fascinating sign of the times when the authorities in charge of the food supply seem dead set on making foods as nutritionally worthless as possible.

Online resources for taking action

Organic Pastures
160 acres of almonds, they can sell you raw almonds directly (and they're also into raw milk).
Good folks. Highly recommended. May be one of the few remaining sources of truly raw almonds in California.

Living Nuts
They have great information about raw almonds, plus an online petition. Sign their petition! These folks are big into raw foods and also highly recommended.

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