Almond Pasteurization Update (Good News)
Over the last few weeks I've been staying in touch with the Cornucopia Institute and getting the latest and greatest on the almond pasteurization issue. Here's are the most recent happenings and why this all matters....
Good news, the mandatory pasteurization has been delayed
Last week the Almond Board of California suddenly asked the USDA to delay the pasteurization mandate till March, 2008, (the original date was Sept 1st). The Almond Board is requesting the delay because farms need more time to get prepared, but the health food community knows better: Someone's feeling the heat, and it ain't the almonds.
Pressure, verbal protest, letters, calls and other forms on action must continue and become even strong than before. The Cornucopia Institute and my technology firm DBoost are working on centralizing the community with a website that will centralize farmers, retailers, non-profits and the general caring public.
What's really happening here? Is this some vast conspiracy?
No, but it is about money. The biggest almond farms, which are pushing for the mandate, don't grow organic or even raw almonds. They grow pesticide ridden, fertilizer grown, junk almonds that often are just added to other foods. And because they know their large factories and commercial farming practices encourage bacteria and salmonella contamination, they are pushing for pasteurization to cover their dirty work. Basically, the Almond Board doesn't want the industry to suffer the way that the commercial spinach farms suffered with their E.coli outbreak.
By trying to protect its rear though, the Almond Board forgot about the raw + organic crowd. Honestly, they probably thought it wouldn't even be a big deal. And maybe only a few hippies in Sedona, Arizona would be worried about it and everyone else wouldn't even notice. Well, they were wrong.
That's why this campaign has to be about being heard. The Almond Board has cut communication off with concerned farms, therefore it is our responsibility to make noise and make sure the press hears that noise. That's the only way we've gotten this far and it is the only way we'll make anything happen moving forward.
The Larger Issue
This is about total food freedom. Having the ability for health to take presidence over what some big agra-farm feels is convenient. Will Fantle from Cornucopia put it best:
"Fantle charges that the rule could very well establish a precedent for more governmental control of fresh foods. Says Fantle, “If almonds require pasteurization, what foods will be next on the list of mandatory sterilization, heat treatment, and irradiation? Truly raw, untreated nuts, fruits, and vegetables might no longer be legally available in the marketplace.”
Lastly, just so that farmers and consumers are informed, there is a loophole. Via Cornucopia:
"The only exemption to the almond treatment regulations will be an allowance for growers to sell truly raw almonds directly to the public from farmstead stands. Unfortunately, this will give only a limited number of consumers in specific areas of California, the only state in the nation that produces almonds, access to untreated nuts."
Organic Pastures is one of the farms that has announced it will proceed with the loophole if the mandate goes through.
There you have it, the latest and greatest on Almonds. For more detail check out the full almond press release by the Cornucopia Institute.