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?

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!

134 thoughts on “Are Your Almonds Truly Raw?

  1. Emily

    I was aware of the US not having truly raw almonds anymore but am able to easily pick up almonds from other places here. Though to be fair, who’s to say what their laws are? I’ve never checked any others and like yourself only knew about the USA law due to also coming from a raw food background.

    1. Valerie

      Well, other countries do not have their political process controlled by big-ag corporations the way it is here. (Although Britain is moving in that direction) They actually protect their people before corporate profit. If I cant find organic, my next step is find something imported from the European Union.

    1. zungod

      unfortunately I cannot endorse this business. This is a CA Prop 8 endorser/donator. Thanks for suggestion. I’ll look elsewhere for raw almonds. Have a great day

      1. Momma Deb

        To zungod… I also Buy locally and would rather support locally. So that being said, what’s wrong with buying unprocessed truly raw almonds directly from your local farmer…. Online.

      2. Redeemed Mama

        Thanks for making mention of it, “zengod”!! 🙂 BECAUSE they ARE in support of Prop 8, I will make sure to support their business!!!

    2. BARB

      I heard from another e-mail source that all almonds from California have more toxins in them than the good.

    3. Patty

      Unfortunately, they’ve also allowed the continuous radiation contamination and deception of the triple meltdown in Japan to severely contaminate produce, fruits, nuts, meat, dairy, fish, sea salt, kelp, seaweed, water and everything food in CA, OR, WA, HI, AK, Mexico, Canada, the Pacific and the Gulf with massive amounts of Fluoride, Cesium, Iodine, and hundreds other radioactive toxins.. Be wise, avoid feeding your family food grown and produced with these dangerous isotopes or expect to see infertility, heart disease, cancer, thyroid illness, brain damage, organ damage, hair loss, bone damage and loss, fatigue, and a whole lot more. Nuclear energy is produced with Fluoride, Uranium and Plutonium.. Fluoride is worse than Utanium. I’m usually a big advocate for buying US so this is sad for me to do. In the last 3 years, we’ve stayed diligent knowing everything we consume is from other states while watching our neighbors and Friends, who’ve refused to believe it, just in 3 years, develop testicular cancer, kidney cancer, non-hodgkins, infertility (several couples), water on the heart and chronic infection, Hodgkin’s, rapid aging and hair loss, stopped menstrual cycles (16 yr old and 45 yr old), and mental illness.

      1. Lee

        Hi Patty, I’m very much interested in your research. Could you please share more for I have been seeking answers regarding the food industry and why the attack on our foods or moreso people. I live in Washington State. I’m open to knowledge, please share….



        1. Casey

          Hi Lee, I can’t find any studies supporting what Patty says, but I do see a National Academy of Sciences study that demonstrates the amount of additional radiation exposure from eating blue fin tuna after the Fukushima disaster is less than the naturally occurring exposure from eating a single banana. I think you’re going to be okay in Washington.

          There’s a very interesting Radiolab podcast called Double Blasted about a man who happened to be in both Japanese cities when they were bombed. People thought that the descendents of victims of those attacks would be marked for thousands of years, but that hasn’t happened.

          Regardless of all that, take care and live well,


  2. Jessica Kiehn

    no, i wasnt, and now this makes perfect sense. we just bought a big bag of raw almonds at Sams Club (like costco) and i returned them after tasting them. they were awful. even the texture is different. they arent near as crunchy as real raw. This is so frustrating!

    1. Archana Singh

      I also bought a bag of raw almonds from Sam’s ( last week) and they literally killed me ( I have been eating alomnds all my life), ended up in ER and the reaction was that bad that if there would have been a delay by couple of min I would have crashed right there and then.
      now i am so scared…

  3. jeanne

    My neurotic raw days are over…now I don’t care if they are raw or not, I just get organic almonds and am happy 🙂

    As far as almond butter, I sometimes splurge and get the organic kind, but it’s a spendy habit and there are other investments I like better…aritisana coconut butter or tahini, hello!

    I still buy the trader joe one from time to time but I don’t eat it that often. You have to weigh your risks…I eat so many awesome organic vegetables and healthy foods that even if they did use this chemical, which they may not, my exposure to it is very small. I imagine that there are chemicals just as bad used on non organic produce all the time…and in meat and dairy it’s probably way worse and I’m not exposed to those at all. So I take the minimal risk and get the benefit of eating one of my favorite foods once in a while 🙂 Truth be told, I eat way more peanut butter than almond butter anyway and I always buy the TJ organic one because it’s organic, it tastes awesome, it’s more cost effective, and I love it 🙂

    Unfortunately, we probably breathe in much worse just walking outside in Los Angeles 🙁

    1. Michelle

      Hi Jeanne, FYI – Even though I am a Nutritionist I don’t go too crazy with eating raw or watching everything, however, two substances I want to ensure are clean and stable is the fats and water I consumer. I believe they can make the greatest impact either good or bad on our bodies. So the biggest concern with nuts being processed or cooked is they may cause the very delicate polyunsaturated fats in them unstable causing them to be equivalent to trans fats and very toxic to our body.

      1. Veronica

        Hi there, can you give me further information on what you feel is truly “safe” healthy water to drink? Thank you.

    1. Sarah

      I probably don’t know what true raw almonds taste like. I didn’t know this info, but was curious when I would buy what I thought were raw almonds and they tasted stale or steamed.

  4. Cheryl

    I had absolutely no idea about this. Thank you for bringing it up. Can’t tell you how much I’ve learned since finding your site!

  5. Christin

    I love this little blog. I am sad I will be having to step away from juicing for the next months to come (not by my own choice). This was an interesting article and thanks for sharing. =) Good point on the almond milk, eww I’ll just drink regular grass fed. 😉

  6. Cristina

    Thanks for posting this. I have known about this for a while and it is very frustrating to see “raw” almonds still being sold at TJs and other places when they are truly not raw.

    I planted an almond tree in my backyard last year just because I was so annoyed by it all! I have a very small yard in NoCal so I plan to keep the tree small, but it’s really nice to pick almonds in my own yard.

    Additionally, I found a farm in the Central Valley that sells raw almonds that are pasteurized (and USDA certified) using a very delicate technique that they detail on their website. The technique is non-toxic and maintains the “live” quality of the nuts (you can sprout their nuts) but also passes USDA muster when it comes to their regulations. I can’t remember the name of the company now. I just bought 50 lbs from them last month 🙂 I will look it up and try to post the name here.

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  8. JasonMChicago

    Great article. Thanks for sharing. It is getting to a point where the EASIEST THING is to leave all family, friends, and life and move to Europe. With all these poisons in food and cheating/lying etc. going on with Big Ag (and even small Ag) it is very difficult to get good-quality food.

    I noticed TJ organic almond butter tasted bad… but then again I don’t know if I’ve ever had true “raw” almonds.

    Anyway, I’m trying to grow my own food this summer. Don’t have a yard buy my parents have a HUGE backyard.

  9. Ellen

    I don’t understand how you know even the ones in Trader Joe’s are truly raw. Also, I thought the law stated that only people that come to a farm or market that sells them-are you sure you can get them mail-order?

    1. Megan Post author

      The almonds at Trader Joe’s are definitely NOT raw. I personally contacted the farm linked above, and they assured me that they could send me truly raw, organic almonds by mail.

    1. Dyan

      Just called organic pastures and they informed me that they no longer sell almonds. They stopped when they finished selling their 2013 crop. So this is no longer a source guys. Sorry for us all. Crazy.

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  11. Chelsea

    Question! I just started buying imported raw almonds and noticed that they have somewhat of a ‘dirty’ exterior… For example, when I soak them to make almond milk the water they soak in gets MUCH dirtier than regular store bought almonds. Do you know what this is or if it’s safe to eat? Or are you supposed to thoroughly clean almonds that are truly raw before eating them?

    1. Ashwin

      Raw almonds naturally have a brownish powdery substance on them, that is the way they are when you crack open the almond shell and get to them, it is not toxic or anything, it is one good way to tell if the almond was processed or not, all almonds I bought at Costco etc retail outlets do not have this type of feel to the almonds, it is because they are not raw. also the chocolate dipped varieties at these stores are when the chocolate coating is applied to the almonds externally, it is not naturally occuring

  12. Kevin

    So we normally buy a 3 lb bag of almonds from BJ’s. not roasted, no salt, but obviously doesn’t say “raw” on the package.

    Can I still use them to make almond milk? Wat would be the difference from the truly raw ones?

  13. Joe Ring

    The reason you can’t purchase raw almonds is because true, raw almonds actually have significant levels of cyanide. They have to be heat treated. Now, as for sprouted almonds, I would imagine that they would probably be okay. Anyone have an answer about that?

    1. Debbie

      From wikipedia: “While wild almond species are toxic, domesticated almonds are not; Jared Diamond argues that a common genetic mutation causes an absence of glycoside amygdalin, and this mutant was grown by early farmers, “at first unintentionally in the garbage heaps, and later intentionally in their orchards”.

    1. Dyan

      When I typed I got a screen that says buy this domain. Possibly they went out of business, however, I followed one of the links displayed and found the below link for a company in San Marcos, CA called Sun Organic Farms.

      I spoke to the owner and he assured me that their almonds are truly organic as noted. They sell both organic (non treated) and TREATED almonds and other variety of nuts. The almonds are called unparalleled meaning they are run of the mill and meant for soaking and milking or macaroons for those who use the meal after milking. It’s best to buy bulk and ask for the flat rate shipping fee which is $14.85. Otherwise you pay for shipping and depending where you are that can drive up the cost. This of course is for those who are on the EST MST side of the map.

      1. Vivian Fields

        Thanks for this post I will check it out .i have been ordering from 2 Califotnia Farms for years but this year making my almond butter it tastes awful. So I am on a search for true almonds if there is such anymore.
        Has anyone tried almonds from Spain or Argentina?

  14. Phoenix

    I have search and search for a website with organic, raw, and unpasturized nuts and seeds resources. Thanks for sharing such valuable information. This definitely helps!

  15. Kate

    Hello, I live in los angeles as well and was wondering if you recommend any local place to buy bulk raw almonds! Thanks!

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    1. abi

      does this really matter i mean how terrible could the effects be? My family has been buying non-organic almonds from Sam’s club for years and never have we seen any ill effects, we are all very fit and healthy.I think some of you might just be overly worried because of past problems with food. If you don’t like the texture or taste of something find a new brand, but if you truly must have raw go for it.

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  19. Repka

    I just ordered some raw organic unpasteurized almonds from a company called Terrasoul Superfoods The prices are REALLY good. I talked to their owner before ordering and he was happy to answer all my questions, and even offered to mail some samples. They are a young business and it sounds like they are very passionate about their job.

  20. Mary Ann

    Have you checked out the almonds from Burroughs Family Farms? Do they pass the test to be able to soak and sprout? I am looking for raw, unpasteurized, shelled, organic, no chemical fertilizers. I have checked them out and they seem to be this quality, but I am hoping you can give me your insight and knowledge on this site. Thank you!

  21. Mike

    I’m sorry – I thought that the REASON they are not to be sold raw is because of the cyanide in almonds and that heat treatment (or other) was needed to make them safe. Exactly how toxic are they? and in what quantities do raw almonds have to be consumed before there’s a problem? Everyone here seems to be actively trying to get a product that might actually be bad for them, wouldn’t roasted be a safer bet rather than risking other types of process?

  22. loranda

    I was actually just reading up on almonds and other poisonous foods that are delicious, and the reason the not-really-raw almonds are labelled as ‘raw’ is because if you eat them without being treated in any way, they are poisonous. they are full of cyanide and steaming them (or some other treatment) is needed to kill off the toxin. (same goes for cashews; they contain urushiol which is also toxic until treated).

    1. Sue

      About the “poisonous” claims: I’m not so sure about this. The same is said to be true for apricot kernel seeds, due to the cyanide content. BUT, the cyanide in apple seeds, apricot kernels, and wild almonds is supposedly in a bound up form that is non-toxic in the amounts we would eat them. Online research indicates that it is this very cyanide in apricot kernels, in its bound form, that is toxic to cancer cells but harmless to healthy cells in cancer patients. Anyone interested can research ‘apricot kernels’ , Vitamin B17′, and ‘Laetrile,’ which I gather is a manufactured form of the natural vitamin B17. Lots of controversy about cyanide/vitaminb17 years ago, but people have been consuming apricot kernels for generations without harm. Vitamin B17 is hard to get in our American diet. Apparently because of its bitter taste, many of the foods that had it have been hybridized or bred to exclude it. I’ve only found a few foods that are said to still have it. Supposedly millet and cassava still have it. For those interested, B17 is said to be a cancer preventive if you eat 7 apricot kernels a day. And it is said to be a cancer curative for some forms of cancer but I’m not sure of the dose for curing cancer. Rule of thumb is to eat no more apricot kernels than the number of pieces of the actual fruit you would eat in one day.

      1. Shayne G O'Neill

        8 bitter almond seeds will flat out kill children, and about 20-30 will kill an adult. Its not “bound up”. Bitter almond is straight up life threatening.

  23. cherie

    i’m confused!
    we have a choice. eating non-raw almonds which have undergone an unhealthy process
    to remove cyanide or raw almonds which contain cyanide. which is the best of the 2 evils?

  24. mel

    the talk of cyanide is false, do more research on how California almonds are grown. almonds are no longer grown from sprouting almonds, they are grafted on to fruit tress, this gets rid of the bitter almonds(cyanide) import almonds are still grown from sprouts, and they are allowed 20% bitter nuts in their products.Only place to get truly raw unpasteurized almonds is from the grower. If the place you are buying them from offers other things like almond flour,roasted almonds, this is classified as a processor which means they are not allowed to sell unpasteurized almonds, so they are either breaking the law, or are scamming you.

    1. Lee

      Mel I read your post on responding on “do more research on how CA almonds are grown.” I live in Washington state and have been searching for “Raw Almonds” for better health. I’ll like to know more of your understanding on how one can get the correct source if you wouldn’t mind. It’s sad we as a people have to now succumb to micro-investigating what we eat, consume and breathe to fight for life.



  25. Lee Hall

    Sorry, but we simply have to pay the extra for buying Italian raw almonds.

    The truth is, I hope never to eat anything from California again. Sorry, sorry, truly so, but the Fukashima disaster has raised levels of some truly horrific things in all the water on the West Coast. Oregon, Washington (state), Cali, all are off my list for life, because it will surely take a hundred thousand years or more to clean THAT mess up. As for the primary point of this post (thank you VERY much for the links, our officials are so greedy and corrupt, aren’t they?

  26. Al

    I’am willing to sell my raw almonds in the next few weeks after they are picked up and taken to the huller and sheller. They are truly raw almonds. These are Certified Organic by A Bee Organic in California

    You have to be aware that a lot of processors are mixing conventional almonds with organic because of the price difference making up too. millions of extra dollars.

    If you are late to buy leave your name and number for next year. 209-678-6199 Turlock, Ca. [email protected] Landline Marc 209 632 9860 Sept 18 2013

  27. Jet

    You do understand that almonds (like apple seeds, peach pits, cherry pits and many other fruit seeds and nuts) comtain hydrogen cyanide and are toxic… So… I fail to see the logic in avoiding almonds that are just steamed or blanched and ingesting poison. And if your stupid enough to believe that almonds don’t have cyanide like some of you are attesting to so stubbornly, maybe you deserve the cyanide poisoning you have coming. In fact, let’s all eat some raw pork, and chicken as well. I hope that Trichinosis and Salmonella are considered “Whole food!” 🙂

    1. RM

      B-17 (Laetrile) is present in Apple Seeds and Apricot Pits. The Hunzas have zero cancer incidence because in part they consume apricot pits along with the fruit. Hydrogen Cyanide only becomes toxic to the body when the molecule is broken apart which only occurs in cancer tissues. The enzymes necessary to break down HC aren’t present in high enough quantity in normal healthy tissue, only in cancer cells. I’ve personally consumed large quantities of ground apricot pits with the only side effect of mild indigestion. I wonder if the cyanide being discussed here is of the same variety?

      1. BSC

        Hey all a brief note from a chemist, with way too much experience in cyanide.
        Yes Almonds have cyanide, yes the heating process will reduce the amount. Hi levels of cyanide are definitely fatal. I will not speculate on how much is in almonds.

        yes there are many types of cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide is actually a gas. It is the gas used in our gas chambers to put prisoners to death. The hydrogen cyanide gas is actually formed in your stomach when the cyanide in the almonds meets your stomach acids. The cyanide runs through your blood system and binds to the iron in your hemoglobin, shutting down your bodies ability to move oxygen. Vitamin B12, which contains cobalt helps, as it binds the cyanide before it reaches the iron in your blood. Your body will clean the cyanide out in a couple days on its own, provided you don’t get too much.

        The cyanide is produced by the almond tree intentionally so that it would make animals sick who ate the nuts. Many seeds, like acorns, have toxins to reduce predation.

        Personally, I am offended that the government will change the meaning of the word “Raw” to mean cooked. That is insane! I would compare it to when the government changed the meaning of the word “lead free plumbing” to mean contains less than 9% lead. If we are to fix any of the problems in this world, we need to have words that are meaningful, and not complete lies.

        Peace to all,

      2. Sue

        Thank you RM. According to my online research you are exactly right about the cyanide found in apricot kernels and apple seeds, and about the longevity they confer on the Hunzas. One point of difference is the TYPE of cyanide. I don’t recall seeing it identified as ‘hydrogen cyanide’ but rather another form, but at the moment I cannot remember the name. I remember the article specifically saying that it is NOT the same cyanide that was used in the gas chamber, that it was bound in specific ways so that it could not have the same effect, that there was something special about cancer cells that made them vulnerable to this form of cyanide and that healthy cells were safe from it as long as you didn’t overeat the seeds/nuts that carried the cyanide.

    2. Sue

      Jet, that was sort of a toxic comment you made. Most of us here are trying to learn how to improve our health through diet and to that end we are trying to understand sometimes complex info such as this discussion about cyanide in certain seeds and nuts. I hope by now you have learned more about the cyanide content in some foods and that you have learned not to equate it with the threats posed by bacterial contamination in undercooked meats. Eating anything raw, even wholesome organically grown foods can pose some level of health risk, but usually not of the same significance as that posed by the antibiotic resistant bacteria that have evolved in animals raised in feedlots. However, NOT eating some raw, whole, organically grown foods can pose health risks as well. So can the fallout from Fukushima and the chemtrails that are destroying so much of the soil in California and elsewhere, not to mention the blight of GMO crops that have now cross pollinated and contaminated, perhaps for all time, our previously treasured heirloom crops. The blessing of apricot kernels, wild almonds etc for their Vitamin B17 content, which is related to their cyanide content, is that they seem to offer some protection from the cancers that the above-mentioned environmental and food sourced threats pose.

  28. Jorunn Indrefjord

    I live in Norway, and I love to eat raw nuts and almonds. I’ve always heard that this is very good for you, and it tastes wonderful too. Today I read that raw almonds were not allowed in the US, and I can’t understand why.
    What is the reason for this ?
    I also wonder how GMOs are allowed. That can’t be healthy at all. Who make these strange desicions ?

  29. Brenda

    The reason this 2007 law came into being is because there was a breakout of Salmonella in almonds… we need to be fearful of this when buying ‘raw” at local farmers markets?

  30. Gina

    How about Almonds Brewers Farm in CA? Grower is Randy Brewer — He does not state “certified organic” but certanly from his descriptions on his sweet but unsophisticated website they would be classified as such. And he clearly states “unpasteurized. I just ordered 5 lb from him and like the idea of supporting a “the little guy” rather than a larger more commercial establisment, and his prices are better than Bremner Farms, I noticed. So….does anyone have any info on this supplier? Also, since the 2007 Law how is that ANYONE in the US grow and sell unpasteurized almonds?
    Thanks so much.

    1. Megan Post author

      I’m not familiar with that grower, but according to the law passed in 2007, almond growers can receive an exemption if they will only be selling their almonds directly to customers at local markets, with a limit of 100 pounds per person per day in direct farmer’s market sales.

  31. Gina

    One more IMPORTANT QUESTION: shelled raw organic unpasteurized untreated almonds can become rancid over time. Does anyone know how long you can store them? Best way to store them?

    1. Megan Post author

      I’d keep them in the freezer for longest shelf life, but I go through mine fast enough that I can store them in a glass jar at room temperature for up to a month.

  32. Terri

    Thank you for this article and for supplying where to buy truly raw almonds from. I placed my order for 5 pounds. Also appreciated the almond butter recipe–can’t wait to make my own. I add it to my pale “hummus” made with cauliflower. Love your blog.

  33. Carol Glenn

    I am under the assumption that food is irradiated upon entering the United States. If this is true, buying from other countries is accomplishing nothing. Am I correct?

  34. Josef

    Given that I’m from Israel and I came to your site and I learned from him so much, I’m so grateful to you.
    We are importers of raw almonds, and we will be happy to receive testimonials from some countries to buy

    Thank you, and have an excellent website

  35. Sonia

    I just called costco and asked what method they use to “sterilize “the almonds ,and they use PPO 🙁
    I guess I will go and return my almonds. Omg I been consuming this “all natural” for over 10 years ,
    I even make my almond milk with this. What a shame.

  36. Janelle

    babe there is a reason for them to sterilize the almonds because true “raw” almonds are actually poisonous! that was to remove the “toxins” of the raw almonds so that they are fit for consumption.

    1. Megan Post author

      Wild varieties of almonds are toxic (they’re also very bitter), but domesticated almonds are not– the domesticated “sweet” type is the almond we are all familiar with. Raw almonds were sold in abundance up until 2007, and they are only pasteurized now because of two past outbreaks of Salmonella, not because they are toxic.

  37. Dennis Botts

    What a great informative post! Unpasteurized almonds are safe to eat and enjoyed in most other countries that way. U.S. growers are actually allowed to export their almonds unpasteurized to other countries, so the law isn’t about the safety of the consumer, and unfortunately is about the California Almond Board protecting its market share. My company, Terrasoul Superfoods imports sweet domesticated, certified organic almonds from Spain, and currently offers them for sale on and our own website at

  38. Marjolaine B

    Oh! Thanks so much for the information and the useful links to suppliers of good almonds! I wish I had found this two days ago, before I placed my order with Country Life co-op for 25 pounds of ”raw” almonds! 🙁

  39. Suzy

    ok, so i’ve learned a heap about almonds from this post just now. but my reason for stumbling onto it in the first place is because i want to make my own almond milk. i bought raw, excuse me, “raw” almonds, and soaked them for two days. they did not soak up much of the water and still remain hard and crunchy. i was under the impression that after two days, or even after one day, they would become somewhat squishy after absorbing the water. so, is it because my almonds are not “raw”?? what am i doing wrong here? seems like no one else has this issue..

  40. The Ricker

    Love that Almond Butter! most Almond Butter costs 11-$25 now. Just go shop at Sprouts and see what I mean, or Whole Foods.

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  42. Fedupwithidiots

    Raw means uncooked.

    The “pasteurization of almonds using PPO occurs between 34 and 40 degrees.

    This type of pasteurization does not rely on heat like with milk.

    Since the average human body has a temperature around 38 degrees then holding the almonds in your hand will make them not raw.

    Only PPO vapor is used to pasteurize almonds.

    The boiling point of PPO is 34 degrees which means it has a high vapor pressure

    This means the liquid will not condense on the almonds and no PPO will be in or on the almonds.

    Do you worry about methane, propane or butane contaminating your food when you cook with it?

    Nasty is an emotional word, not a scientific term and does not explain anything.

    PPO is not mixed with fuel because the mixture is very flammable and difficult to safely handle and use safely for sporting events.

    The highest incidence of Salmonella contamination occur with “organically” grown foods and local markets.

  43. WholeFoodsEater

    Yes, I am aware of this issue. When these laws went into effect, I had already been purchasing raw organic unpasteurized non-pareil almonds from a California family organic almond farm for some years.

    A great struggle then ensued, so consumers could continue to purchase the truly raw almonds we wanted. I contributed my input to get the laws changed or excepted because I wanted non-pasteurized almonds. I believe chemically or heat treated almonds are bad for the health of my family. I understand that heat treatment destroys valuable vitamins and enzymes and in addition that processing chemicals are poisonous.

    The reason this law was instituted was due to a very small incidence of salmonella in people who had eaten almonds in the US. There were as I recall only a total of appx. 3 people in the US who were affected, and they had eaten only commercially grown almonds. NONE of them had eaten organically grown almonds.

    This law threatened the existence of small organic family farms, since it can be expensive to institute processing procedures. In addition, it is generally against the philosophy of organic family farmers to use health-destroying measures like this, as they want to maintain the health value of organic foods.

    As I understand it, the result ultimately was that these family almond farms are legally able to sell unpasteurized, truly raw, almonds when the consumer purchases them directly from these family farms, although there may be some quantity limit.

    I purchase my certified organic and truly raw almonds from Mr. Glenn Anderson, who has a family farm in Northern California. I have found him over the years to be a person of high integrity with a great old-fashioned attitude of courteous customer service and extremely fair prices. His web site is:

    Thank you for bringing this important matter to more consumers. It is a travesty that almonds can be labeled “raw” when treated with heat or chemicals. Allowing processed almonds to be labeled “raw” misinforms consumers. I believe the consumer has a right to purchase food that is safe and healthy, and in order to do that, the consumer needs legally available food sources and accurate information, including the correct labeling of foods.

    I highly recommend that you and your web site viewers check out The Center for Food Safety at: I discovered this web site with gratitude. These folks support pending legislation (including accurate consumer labeling) to protect consumers, our food supply, our seed stock, and viability of our earth. Those who get on their action list will be informed of such pending legislation and will receive email links, so they can contact elected representatives to express their viewpoint. Together, we have a voice, and this is the time to get involved, as legislation is pending regarding Genetically Modified Foods. Learn more at

    Thank you!

    1. Marcia

      Thank you for providing this information. I have been buying raw almonds – not organic from Trader Joe’s for years.

      I am concerned however for not exposing my family to salmonella poisoning. How can we avoid the chemicals and protect my family from bacteria?

      Thanks so much.

  44. Brian

    Thank you for writing this article – quite informative! Are there similar laws for other types of nuts or is it just almonds?

  45. MICKEY


  46. Brian Paddock

    Here’s another great source for organic certified, unpasteurized almonds, Capay Hills Orchard in Esparto, CA. I’m the grower and owner of this family farm and I encourage you to check it out and see for yourself why we are unique in a tasty, healthy way. We ship around the world from our roadside stand and DO NOT pasteurize. Our website explains how we grow your food. We are a true family farm and also sell organic smoked almonds and truly raw almond butter made from a stone grinder! Check it it and see for yourself. Brian Paddock, owner/grower

  47. jon

    what about UNshelled (still in the shell) almonds? are they pasteurized or treated with ppo? i wouldn’t mind sitting and cracking these open if i knew that they were truly raw and safe. does anyone know where i can get a couple pounds of the unshelled for a reasonable price? thanx!

  48. Cliff

    You cant have it both ways people. Thanks to the growers at Paramount Foods (the guys that brought us POM Wonderful) there were 2 outbreaks of Salmonella in almonds. As a result of the failure to being able to ensure that the harvesting techniques, the growing, sorting and shelling of Almonds could eliminate Salmonella from the food stream, the USDA had to take the lead by banning the sale of RAW ALMONDS. Keep in mind that the USDA and FDA have a directive to prevent food outbreaks due to foodborne pathogens. If they didn’t take this step one could envision that some group would sue the regulatory agencies for not protecting them from Salmonella. On the other hand, how many people that profess to want to eat raw almonds turn around a sue the companies when the do get sick? Similarly, the same people that want raw milk are the first to pony up a lawyer once they come down with a debilitating illness directly related to their choice to drink a very unsafe product. Kind of like the smokers that sued the tobacco companies for their cancer because of THEIR choice to smoke. Cant have it both ways folks!

    1. Alexandra

      It’s not the actual product that makes you sick, but how it’s handled. Raw milk is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, an unsafe food. Now if you stick it in dirty bottles or something, then there’d be a problem, but it’s not the milk or nuts itself.

  49. Dupre

    Are bitter raw almonds available anymore or just the sweet variety? I understand there are ways to purchase raw unpasteurized almonds in the US, but are these almonds – whether imported or domestically grown – only sweet almonds? I know there is much controversy over the natural toxicity of bitter almonds, but from the research I have done, the presence of amygdalin, which is present in bitter but not sweet almonds, has dramatic effects on the treatment and prevention of cancer, and to reap the benefits of it one only needs to eat a few per day, nowhere near the amount needed for any naturally occurring poison to do harm. Nevertheless, from the posts it seems that the only kind of almonds sold – pasteurized or not – are of the sweet variety. Am I correct or are bitter almonds still available? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      As far as I know, bitter almonds are only used to make things like almond extract so the poison they contain is removed during processing. I am under the impression that sweet almonds, which contain no poison, are the only ones available in grocery stores.

  50. arman

    I really need to know if almonds exported to other countries from the U.S are also pasteurized. Since U.S is 80%of almond producer in the world. Thanks

  51. nikki

    i am trying to make my own almond milk, but am finding it difficult to find raw unpasteurized BLANCHED almonds. any suggestions where to find these jewels???

    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      I think the blanching process would make them not technically “raw,” so that’s probably very hard to find! There’s no need to use blanched almonds for almond milk, though, since you strain out the pulp and skin after blending.

    2. glenda

      yes capay hills in California, and no semenilla cause they use tarps instead of shaking them onto the ground like most do,google them , they are awsome

  52. Noel

    Any tips on how to know if almonds are fresh vs. rancid??? I keep second guessing my nose, but it’s probably right. Fresh is fresh, right? : ) I soaked some macadamia nuts last night, and this morning they had a slimy coating on them which caused me to sniff them. So hard for me to know for sure — and I’m suspicious of the slimy white coating, but it could be a macadamia nut thing. They came from the Whole Foods bulk bin, so could easily be rancid.

    1. Brian Paddock

      Without tasting an almond or nut, there is really no definitive way to test for rancid nuts. Some folks consider placing them in water and the rancid ones float, but this is not true. Very fresh tasty almonds for example will float. some float, most sink. Depends on how much oil in the nut, density and the specific gravity of the water. The best suggestion I can do is ask your almond or nut supplier to tell you how they are stored. There is specific data on how to properly store almonds and for how long. Here is a link to a good document from UC Davis: Best bet is buy you almonds/nuts direct from the farmer and have him/her tell you how they are stored. Now you know what their answer should be by looking at the UCD document.
      Brian Paddock, Organic Almond Grower,

  53. Karen Leon

    If I want to make my own almond milk, recipes call for raw, blanched almonds. What does blanching do to almonds?
    I haven’t found organic, raw, blanched almonds from among your links to good almond sources.

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  55. Abe

    WE are looking for raw almonds in the shell–for germinating and growing trees. This is a class project.
    Kindly advise if your almonds in the shell are suitable..?
    We are in Thailand.

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  57. TJ

    If the USDA requires pasteurization, how should we naturally “clean” the almonds if we purchase raw, organic, unpasteurized almonds?

    1. Brian Paddock

      Good question. Almonds are not clean due to how they are “normally” harvested. The USDA implemented pasteurization dues to the manner which almonds: onto the ground, then swept up with a dusty sweeper and pick-up machine. Past cases of Salmonella poisoning were attributed to this method. When the harvested almonds are harvested this way, even though they are in a semi-porous shell, they still get rubbed around among the many pathogens on the orchard floor. Hence USDA required pasteurization to prevent an economic crisis in the almond industry and State of California. Organic Pasteurization kills the live enzymes via heat. The solution I have implemented as an organic grower to provide unpasteurized almonds yet safe and clean is to harvest on tarps, not the ground! My almonds are not rubbed around on the ground and are not subjected to pathogens. So back to your question: If you buy from a farmer who does not harvest onto tarps and you want clean, safe unpasteurized almonds then you are out of luck; cant be cleaned. Otherwise buy from an organic farmer who harvests onto tarps, therefore the nuts are clean and there is no need to wash them. This is what my farm offers: Capay Hills Orchard.

    2. Kathy

      I sprout a lot of different kinds of seeds. Making sure all the seeds are uncontainated is always a concern. When soaking seeds I buy, I add a couple drops of GSE (grapefruit seed extract) to the water to kill off any unwanted organisms.

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  60. BSDetector

    This absolutely disgusts me that you would do absolutely no research yet implore people to find unpasteurized almonds. It’s frankly shocking that you were so oblivious that you did not consider why it is illegal to sell raw almonds.

    Listen up readers. RAW ALMONDS ARE POISONOUS. THEY CONTAIN CYANIDE. Don’t take my word for it though, talk to a doctor, read some studies, do your research.

    Don’t believe imbeciles like this blog that’s supposed to help you get RID of toxins, while suggesting you eat literal poison. You have been warned.

    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      It sounds like you have been misinformed; there are two varieties of almonds, sweet almond (P. dulcis variety dulcis) and bitter almond (P. dulcis variety amara). Sweet almonds are the familiar, edible type consumed as nuts and used in cooking or as a source of almond oil or almond meal– and they are safe to eat raw. The oil of bitter almonds is used in the manufacture of flavouring extracts for foods and liqueurs, though prussic acid must first be removed. Source:

    2. Megan Gilmore Post author

      And keep in mind that the USA did sell raw almonds up until 2007– so plenty of people were eating raw almonds and not dying. The concern was about two cases of salmonella contamination, not poison found in the almonds. Let’s be careful who we’re calling imbeciles here.

    1. Brian Paddock

      Just realize, the almonds from are imported from Spain. They are not California almonds. Furthermore most folks are interested in knowing how their food is grown, Food to live is NOT the farmer, they are a retailer. How are they harvested? On the ground? Who knows. Purchasing unpasteurized almonds directly from the farmer has and inherent benefit; knowledge on how it is grown and prepared for your table.

  61. Catherine

    I was just recently informed of this issue, and I’d like to know whether almonds still in their shells are pasteurized as well? If so, do any US almond producers sell almonds in the shell (because it’s technically illegal now to sell them unpasteurized if grown in the US). Thanks!

  62. 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!

    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.

  63. 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 and see and read for yourself how we grow your healthy food the way it should be done.

    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?).

    2. David sirieix

      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 (?)

  64. 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?

  65. Nancy Hardy

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

  66. 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!

  67. but

    It really pisses me off that farmers are screwing people by charging TWICE as much (OR MORE) for unpasteurized almonds when removing the extra step of pasteurizing actually reduces production costs!!


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