Americans sure love almonds these days, and for good reasons, we tell ourselves — the nut is practically the reigning champ of health foods and it’s a great dairy alternative, and while it doesn’t have Stephen Colbert commercials, what other nut is cool enough to have its own Twitter account? There are, however, apparent downsides: Almond mania is killing salmon and honeybees and otherwise hogging California’s drought-stricken water.
Every almond requires 1.1 gallons of water; right now, California produces 2.1 billion pounds of them annually, or 82 percent of worldwide production. More farmers are attracted to the lucrative industry all the time, and, well, at some point, the cycle begins looking pretty dire. Water salmon need to spawn is being diverted for almonds, enough that California’s farmers will realize their largest crop to date in the throes of a record-breaking drought. Almonds also rely on honeybees for pollination, so bees are being imported to California, where they then die from pesticides. Civil engineers also fear that the practice of over-pumping aquifers in order to water almond farms could collapse roads. Maybe it’s time to switch to cashews — oh wait, never mind.
The Dark Side of Almond Use [Atlantic]