Are Your Almonds Truly Raw?

This may or may not come as a surprise, but if you’re buying raw almonds grown in the United States, they’re not actually raw.

Even if they’re labeled “raw.”

It has been brought to my attention that some people still aren’t aware of this fact, so I thought it might be a good idea to revisit the topic today.

Effective September 2007, the USDA ordered all almond growers to “sterilize” almonds in one of several ways: heat them using steam, irradiate them using a controversial ionization process, roast or blanch them, or treat them with propylene oxide (PPO).

PPO is a known carcinogen, and most countries, including the EU, have banned imported nuts treated with PPO. The chemical is so nasty that it’s even been banned by both the National Hot Rod and American Motorcycle Racing Associations, where it had been used as a fuel additive before it was deemed too dangerous.

The new rule created deceptive labeling. Almonds that have undergone chemical treatments or heating for pasteurization are still labeled “raw.” Consumers who purchase “raw” almonds may well think that those almonds are natural and unprocessed. Moreover, there will be no label requirement to specify what kind of pasteurization treatment was used among the many approved methods or combination of options. [source]

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Had I not been a raw food enthusiast at the time, this news would have probably slid right under my radar. As I recall, there wasn’t much media coverage, and I only found out about it through a raw food forum, full of outraged consumers worried about the impending ban.

In a panic, I drove to the nearest Trader Joe’s and bought as many jars of truly raw almond butter as I could possibly store in my pantry.

I was stocked up for at least 6 months.

When my supply had finally run out, I was surprised to find that even after the ban had passed, raw almonds and raw almond butter were still plentifully available on store shelves.

Only, it didn’t taste the same as the raw almond butter I stocked up on before the ban was passed.

That’s when I learned that even pasteurized almonds could be labeled as “raw.” In fact, they can be steamed, irradiated, or treated with chemicals, and still be labeled as raw!

Luckily, there are still a couple loopholes for purchasing truly raw almonds:

1) You can buy directly from farmers–> either at farmer’s markets or online. My favorite online suppliers include:

  • Bremner Farms sells unpasteurized raw organic almonds directly from their farm, starting with 5 lb boxes going up to 30 lb boxes.
  • Blue Mountain Organics sells truly raw Italian almonds, starting with bags as small as 8 oz. and up to 25 lbs.

2) You can also buy almonds that were grown outside of the USA.

I’ve noticed that my local Whole Foods has started carrying truly raw Italian almonds near the bulk section. Check your local grocery store, or talk to the store manager to request that they start carrying them!

Note: If you do choose to buy raw almonds grown in the USA, I’d recommend sticking to organic varieties, to avoid the chemical pasteurization process. These pasteurized “raw” almonds tend to be cheaper than the truly raw varieties, and if you plan using them in grain-free baked goods, they don’t need to be raw anyway! However, avoiding chemicals is always a good thing, if you ask me. 

Reader Feedback: Were you aware of the raw almond pasteurization in the United States? If so, do you make an effort to buy truly raw almonds?

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Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the body’s detox organs— no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

133 thoughts on “Are Your Almonds Truly Raw?

  1. Dana

    Wow, this webpage is like shill-central. The reason they do not want us to consume the almonds raw, is because those are too healthy. Humans consumed them for kabillions of years before the almighty science came around and created the issues we see with bacteria today. They did not die, they did not get sick. Factory farming of ANY food, will introduce bacteria. If the raw almonds did not provide such a high content of B17, then we would not be having this discussion. Nor would the shills be commenting.

    This blog is awesome, and this piece is wonderfully written! Thank you for spreading information instead of lies. It is refreshing to see these days! Now y’all go drink some raw milk and eat an apple seed with cyanide… and NOT die!

    Reply
    1. Dinah

      You, you’re the one I want to talk to. Thank you for being a wonderfully truthful and insightful person. Where do you buy your almonds? I want what you’re having.

      Reply
  2. Brian Paddock

    I think Nonpareil almonds are not bitter at all and are even a little sweet. I also grow Monterey variety and they may be a tad less sweet, they are not bitter either. I am an almond grower and directly sell my organic certified unpasteurized almonds to the consumer. I am willing to sell you any variety (I have 3) and any quantity under 100lbs. I can also provide different varieties I grow, separated so you can discover the variety you like the best. Check out our farm at http://www.chorganicalmonds.com and see and read for yourself how we grow your healthy food the way it should be done.

    Reply
    1. Ken

      Thank you Mr. Paddock. Your web site is nicely done and had great information on your farming practices. I just ordered a 5 pound bag. Thank you for the care you put into your farm.

      I have a Natural Grocers near by, and they sell a Organic Spanish Raw Almond. Being from Spain I assume it really is raw, but I have not been able to comform that. Plus they have a dust on them that I don’t enjoy while eating them (what is that from?).

      Reply
    2. David sirieix

      Hi
      What an article….; i shop carefully at the outdoor market in NY and would like to order your raw almonds if possible (?)
      Additionally, i am looking for walnuts, caschews, peanuts, figues* and dates ***
      I buy currently at fairway (organic) can u tell me if they come from California as well (??)
      Whole foods was “out” of the italian raw almonds and inend up buying them from
      The Brenner farm site….
      Can u help me source the above (?)
      Thx
      David

      Reply
  3. Brianna

    Great blog-post!

    I appreciate how hard you and Annemarie work to share information about this topic. I’d rather have almonds that were pasteurized than sprayed with chemicals. They should stop lying about being raw and tell you which treatment they received. How can the guy advertise his own “real” raw almonds as raw when the others are lying in their advertising?

    Reply
  4. Nancy Hardy

    Hi, Is there any way to find UNPASTURIZED, raw and organic seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower and sesame,in the US? Thanks

    Reply
  5. Steve

    This. ALL. OF. THIS!

    Thank you for consistently and constantly taking the time to think holistically about the world we live in and how we are all connected with the earth through science.

    I’m actually planning on going with Bremner’s (unless I want to spend $250 just to save on a bulk rate from Blue Mountain (although I know they sell bentonite clay that is mined the appropriate way!)

    My question is actually about “One Lucky Duck” . . . I tried to search online for it, but it looks like it was a brick-n-mortar that closed down? Is it near where you live? Did it move or get reopened? Just wondering if the company has a new name or something!

    Ever since I made those Date Energy Balls, I knew I had to Subscribe. Thanks for the constant ideas and knowledge. It’s made me a fantastic raw vegan paleo cook. 😀 BTW, I’m at the point right now that sprouted nuts are SO delicious that I can’t even make them last long enough to cook with them. HA! Except for Cashew crusted cod filet…… but that’s it!

    Reply

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