Most of us enjoy snacking away on nuts, and we think we are making the healthy choice by purchasing them raw. After all, raw nuts are better for you, right?
Not so fast… That’s actually true, IF those nuts they label as raw, are indeed RAW.
But more than likely, they are not.
As confusing as it sounds, once again, we are being hoodwinked by deceptive labeling practices.
Stay with me on this while I clear up yet another sham.
First of all, let’s take a look at some of the different processes our “raw” nuts likely have gone through when we purchase them at the grocery store…
But wait, you say, if nuts have gone through any of these processes, then they cannot be raw! That’s my point.
Let me explain.
All this confusion boils down to a deceptive labeling loophole that allows nuts to be pasteurized AND roasted, then sold as raw.
That’s right. Here’s what happened. Since 2007, 99% of all organic almonds sold in the USA are steamed and pasteurized before selling them, and then they are dry roasted to remove the excess water from the steaming process. Also, currently hazelnuts are required to adhere to the same process.
Many other nuts like Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are NOT required to go through this process, yet most do. Why??
Back in 2001 there was a salmonella outbreak, and unfortunately for the destiny of nuts, it was traced back to almonds in California. According to the 2007 law which was triggered by this event, all California-grown almonds must be pasteurized in an attempt to destroy any dangerous bacteria.
The domino effect of this law lead to all almonds grown in the USA now being pasteurized. In other words, those raw almonds you just bought are probably NOT really raw! But the law let’s the label say they are.
When organic nuts are pasteurized, they are steamed to 200 degrees F to destroy any potentially harmful bacteria. Anything over 170 degrees F causes a breakdown of the fats in nuts which produces free radicals. Does this sound like “raw” to you?
Worse yet, the domino effect didn’t stop there. Now almost all organic nuts sold as raw on the commercial shelves in the USA are pasteurized and roasted. Again, why??
Yep. Once again, the almighty dollar wins over our health.
The truth is, the nut industry does not care about our wellness, they care about the bottom line. The pasteurization and roasting process, while damaging the chemical makeup and nutritional benefit of raw nuts, increases shelf life and reduces liability.
When the nut industry realized the increase in profits with almonds due to following a pasteurization process and increasing shelf life, guess what? The rest of the nut industry followed suit. Why not make more profits on ALL the different nuts, all the while deceiving the unknowing consumer into buying nuts they think are raw but are instead highly processed.
Here is the sad truth that began putting American organic nut farmers out of business—all foreign imported almonds (and other nuts), do not have to be pasteurized! In other words, consumers in the know stopped buying “fake raw” USA grown nuts in favor of imported nuts that really were raw and unpasteurized.
Still convinced your USA “raw” nuts are the real deal? Try the test to see for yourself. Soak a few of those nuts for a few days. If they sprout, they are truly raw. If they don’t, you just got bamboozled because pasteurized nuts can no longer sprout.
So far, I’ve been talking about “organic & raw” nuts sold in the USA. But what about those of you who still insist on buying non organic nuts because they cost less…? What are you really getting besides nuts in those non organics?
Hang onto your hat, we are getting ready for a wild nut ride.
When it comes to nuts that are non organic, anything goes when it comes to processing and preparing for the grocery store shelf. Even though nuts are still pretty safe from being GMO, you won’t believe what other evils await in those non organic nuts.
Being non organic means pesticides and chemicals can be used in the growing and processing of nuts. Also, there is another method of pasteurization besides steaming… Fumigation.
This is where it gets even more toxic. A commonly used fumigant is called propylene oxide gas, or PPO for short. This is the same highly toxic and flammable compound that was used as a racing fuel before being banned for safety reasons.
You won’t see propylene oxide gas listed on your nut label because the wise consumer would know this sounds like a chemical, but you might see PPO. It sounds innocent. It is known to cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, pulmonary edema, burning skin and eyes, and respiratory distress, and you are very well eating it in your non organic nuts.
Another less common fumigant used is ethylene oxide, but the industry will generally reach for the cheaper PPO gas to douse our nuts.
As if all this isn’t bad enough, there is yet another tactic used in the processing of nuts to try and prevent them from going rancid due to the high fat content–spraying them down with a chemical spray, like a BHT preservative. The “T” alone stands for toluene, aka paint thinner, and it is a neuron disrupter, along with being carcinogenic.
How much worse can it get? Oh, I forgot to mention the insecticides used to spray down the crops, plus the conventional chemical fertilizers used on those non organic nuts.
You really do get what you pay for.
So where do we go from here if we can’t fathom not being able to crunch away on our favorite raw nuts? First, get to know your local farmers at your area farmers’ market who are selling genuinely raw nuts.
Here’s another loophole in the law—the FDA mandates pasteurization of almonds from growers who produce more than a specified amount of nuts. So, many smaller farmers are not regulated because their production is less than the specified amount.
Or, buy imported nuts from Asia, Spain, or other regions that are not mandated by this regulation.
You can also find small businesses that sell certified raw, organic, unpasteurized nuts online. But remember, truly raw and unpasteurized nuts don’t stay fresh long, so keep them in the fridge.
And crunch on…!