J500 Media and the Environment

Waiting for the Dew to Rise by alyv

For the past 28 years, Glenn Anderson has spent his fall mornings watching, waiting for the dew to release the almonds blanketing the farm floor before he can harvest them.orchard_in_winter1

Glenn owns Anderson Almonds, a 20-acre California farm that grows raw, certified organic almonds. In his hay-day, Glenn sold almonds to raw food and organic lovers throughout the entire country.

But Glenn Anderson can’t sell raw, organic almonds to us in Kansas anymore, or really anywhere farther than a few hundred miles from his central-California home. Neither can his peers.

And we have yet another federal mandate to thank for that.

On Sept. 1 2007, Glenn and his peers suffered the fallout of a law passed by the United States Department of Agriculture. The law requires aalmond-buttonll California almond growers to sterilize, or “pasteurize,” their crop.

Now, almond farmers with nationwide markets have to either spray their almonds with propylene oxide, a known carcinogen, or clean them with 150-degree steam.

Both methods rule out raw-food status and cut directly into the niche market served by small, family farms like Anderson Almonds.

“My market is essentially gone,” Glenn said. He said 90 percent of his business was done online.

The law, passed by the USDA and the Almond Board of California, was in response to two salmonella outbreaks linked to California almonds. Though the 2001 outbreak in Canada was not linked to a particular farm, the 2004 outbreak was traced back to Paramount Farms, the largest supplier of pistachios and almonds in the world.developing_almonds_may

But the 2007 law doesn’t harm the factory farms that caused this mess. In fact, the law allows some of these large farms that pasteurize their almonds to label their product “organic.”

And the law certainly doesn’t protect customers. Instead, the lack of regulation on organic labels coupled with the new pasteurization law confuses customers and leaves them buying a product they’re not getting.

About the only things the law did were to upset enough raw farmers and their customers to land the USDA with a lawsuit over the issue and to force American consumers to buy foreign almonds, reducing the American-grown, organic almond sales to 1 percent of the national market.

First it was subsidizing corn for ethanol, then it was requiring wind turbines to have coal as a fall back. Now almonds. What’s next? How much longer do we have to wait for the dew of Big Ag to release our small, organic farmers?

By Aly Van Dyke

Thanks to Anderson Almonds and The Cornucopia Institute for the pictures.

Thanks to You Tube for the video.


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I loved this article! I really enjoy almonds and had no idea that this controversy existed behind such a delicious, little nut. I loved how you melded the personal story with the big story.
It’s sad how, in trying to protect the consumers, this law has instead destroyed a way of life for almond farmers, confused consumers, and worsened the problem of outsourcing markets. I wish the USDA would be more conscious of the consequences of their decisions, or even just consider its effect on small, local farmers. They’re a constituent that seems to always be forgotten.

Comment by janiec52

It shocked me when I first heard about it too. What was more heartbreaking was talking to Glenn. He seems so disappointed.

Comment by alyv

I would be really interested to know your research methodology behind this story. Where did you hear about Glenn? How did you contact him? I am really impressed, Aly, great writing.

Comment by brennad87

Wow, thank Brenna. That really means a lot coming from you – you are a fantastic blogger yourself. I just called the Cornucopia Institute and asked if they could connect me with one of the almond growers. They gave me Glenn’s number.

Comment by alyv

Neat website:) Will definitely come back again soon=D

Comment by Nopzoonge

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