Feeling good about yourself for single-handedly saving the environment on your recent *$s run by choosing that almond milk chai over the common cow kind? Not so fast. Growing a single almond can take 1.1 gallons of water, according to a recent article in MotherJones.com. That’s not including the agua you downed after eating the chocolate sea-salt coated ones.
Almost 80% of the world’s almonds come from California, the article adds, where one of the most intense droughts on record has caused CA to be in a state of emergency since January. (Even Lady Gaga agrees that it’s pretty dire.)
Granted, almonds aren’t the only crop that’s sucking the sunshine state dry, but it doesn’t help that almonds grow on trees, which are a many-year investment that can’t be laid fallow on a dry year without dire consequences for next year’s paycheck. When coupled with the chemical cocktail of insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides that are doused on–which may be negatively affecting a grand 60% of the already-flailing US bee population–my morning almond milk smoothie kick isn’t doing the ecosystems any favors.
There’s more than a hint of irony there, since I switched to almond milk because it seemed more sustainable than cow milk. Though plant-based milks are probably less earth-harming on the whole than animal-based ones, it seems milk-drinking habits in general are not getting good eco-reviews:
- Cow milk = highly unsustainable, water-polluting, ozone-destroying (The methane released from cow burps and farts has a worse greenhouse gas effect than the whole US transportation sector!)
- Coconut milk = carbon footprint x 1,000 unless you live somewhere tropical, like the Asia-Pacific region (though you should seriously plant some more coconut trees before they’re too old to make the meat)
- Almond milk = as aforementioned, slurping up water in a dry, dry land and oozing chemical soup to boot
- Soy milk = hormonally-imbalancing in large doses, plus supporting soy props up the US agro-business oligarchy, the super-flawed Farm Bill, and the deforestation of tropical forests for soy crops (granted that’s semi-under control now, but I’m still holding a grudge)
- Water = probably poisoned and full of Prozac
Maybe I’ll just stop drinking things. (Alternatively, I could try drinking enough tap water to be happy about the whole mess). Probably should stop eating too, except for locally-gathered edible invasives.
Anyone up for some freshly-squeezed dandelion milk with a sprig of garlic mustard?