BY: STEFANIE PHILLIPS
Whether you’re in a ritzy Starbucks in the nice end of town or at your local fair trade coffee shop, overhearing someone ask the barista for almond milk to douse in their morning coffee has become the norm. While some of these customers are actually lactose-intolerant or leading a vegan lifestyle, a lot of them are making the switch for other reasons. But this non-dairy alternative is not without its own controversies.
For starters, it takes one gallon of fresh water to produce one almond. You should also know that 80 per cent of the world’s almonds are grown in drought-stricken California. By using a stunning 1.1 trillion gallons of water a year — enough to fill just over 166,558 olympic-sized pools — the water intensive crop takes up ten per cent of the state’s water supply every year.
It takes one gallon of fresh water to produce one almond.
The Washington Post reported a rise in sales of milk alternatives to nearly $2 billion in 2013, up 30 per cent since 2011, driven largely by the popularity of almond milk.
Millennial females (ages 18-34) living in cities are driving almond milk consumption by drinking it as a snack, according to Ipsos FIVE, the food and beverage market research company. “Undoubtedly, when compared to milk, consumption is being motivated by the healthfulness of almond milk, its dietary fit for certain consumers and because of its utility as a filling option to keep consumers energized in between meals.”
When comparing a cup of unsweetened almond milk to a cup of one per cent dairy milk, the nutrition facts are quite different. Almond milk has less than one third of the calories, 40 milligrams more sodium, eight grams less protein and 50 per cent more calcium than dairy milk. Besides having 16 more grams of sugar than its unsweetened partner, vanilla almond milk has similar nutrition facts.
Health Canada has listed milk as one of the top ten priority food allergens in the country. Having an allergy and being lactose-intolerant are quite different. Being allergic means your immune system reacts abnormally to milk proteins and having an intolerance to lactose means you cannot digest lactose, a component in milk.
Two almond milk drinkers filed a false advertising lawsuit against Almond Breeze maker, Blue Diamond, in New York earlier this year after it disclosed on their U.K. website that their product contains two per cent almonds. Food law attorney, David L. Ter Molen told the TIME magazine website that the plaintiffs argued the packaging deceives customers by using the phrase ‘made from real almonds’ and “that customers allegedly purchased the product based on the belief that it was a healthy and premium product.”
Earlier this year it was discovered that two major brands of almond milk contain only two percent almonds.
This recipe on detoxinsta calls for one cup of almonds to four cups of water to make about four cups of almond milk. If you break it down that’s less than six almonds per cup. But according to the Almond Breeze recipe, that’s an abundance.
Although the drink has its complications, it’s important to keep in mind that dairy milk does too. It takes 2.7 trillion gallons of water a year to feed cows each year and poor treatment of animals needs to be weighed in anyone’s decision to consume dairy products. Too much consumption of, or demand for anything can be detrimental to our society.