Almonds Are Sucking California Dry

Evidence mounts in the environmental case against these delicious, nutritious nuts

Photo via Flickr user Harsha K R

Say you live in California, which is now going through the worst drought in history, and you’re a good citizen. So you’re taking shorter showers, teaching the kids about conservation, and giving your neighbors the appropriate dirty looks for sprinkler use. You are doing all the right things and sometimes to reward yourself you have a nutritious handful of delicious almonds.

Which means you are still part of the problem, because it takes a lot of water to grow almonds. Actually, that’s a gross understatement. It takes an astronomical, mind-blowing, wait-did-I-read-that-right amount of water to grow almonds—one gallon of water to grow one almond, in fact. One year of almond production in California uses roughly the same amount of water as all the homes and businesses in Los Angeles use in three years. Ten percent of California’s water goes toward the state’s hefty, growing almond industry, which produces 80 percent of the world’s almonds. I don’t know if we need to make any more points here about water and almonds but it’s probably worth mentioning that the part of California where almonds are grown is one of its driest parts. This month, California Sunday published a totally heartbreaking story of how this impacts small farmers in those areas.

Yes, almonds boast protein and good fats, lots of vitamins and minerals. And they even come in handy snack packets. No question that there’s much to like about almonds. But there is more to like about drinking water. And bathing. And not using up all of California’s groundwater. So, next time you want to eat something crunchy and healthy, maybe try broccoli, because it only takes 5.4 gallons of water to grow a head of broccoli. (Of course, in making broccoli remotely as delicious as almonds, you might want some butter, and it takes 381 gallons of water to make a pound of that dairy product.)

Is there any good news here? Of course there is. It takes less water (1847 gallons) to yield one pound of beef than it does to grow one pound of almonds (1929 gallons). So, if you know any smug, almond-butter smeared vegans, you never have to listen to them again. And of course, none of this changes anything about giving the stink eye to your sprinkler-happy neighbor, which remains an enjoyable activity that uses no water at all.

via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading

The Free the Nipple movement is trying to remove the stigma on women's breasts by making it culturally acceptable and legal for women to go topless in public. But it turns out, Free the Nipple might be fighting on the wrong front and should be focusing on freeing the nipple in a place you'd never expect. Your own home.

A woman in Utah is facing criminal charges for not wearing a shirt in her house, with prosecutors arguing that women's chests are culturally considered lewd.

Keep Reading

In August, the Recording Academy hired their first female CEO, Deborah Dugan. Ten days before the Grammys, Dugan was placed on administrative leave for misconduct allegations after a female employee said Dugan was "abusive" and created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment. However, Dugan says she was actually removed from her position for complaining to human resources about sexual harassment, pay disparities, and conflicts of interest in the award show's nomination process.

Just five days before the Grammys, Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and her claims are many. Dugan says she was paid less than former CEO Neil Portnow. In 2018, Portnow received criticism for saying women need to "step up" when only two female acts won Grammys. Portnow decided to not renew his contract shortly after. Dugan says she was also asked to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, which she refused to do.

Keep Reading