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Good for You, Good for the Earth

The final step of almonds’ orchard to table journey happens at the processing facility where they are sized and sorted. After that, California almonds are shipped to over 90 countries to be enjoyed by people around the world. And the biggest almond lovers are right here in the U.S., where over 30% of almonds grown in California each year are consumed.


It’s no surprise that almonds are enjoyed by all! With 6 grams of plant protein, 4 grams of fiber, "good" unsaturated fats, magnesium, antioxidant vitamin E, and so much more1 in every healthy handful, almonds are the perfect crunch for every diet.

Not only do almonds pack a nutritional punch for us humans, but with some promising research on a new farming practice known as whole orchard recycling, these little nuts could play a big role in climate smart agriculture and supporting the health of our planet.

Whole orchard recycling is a process that farmers can use at the end of an orchard’s 25 year lifespan. It involves grinding whole almond trees into small chips, spreading them evenly over the ground, and then integrating them into the soil. A study from the University of California, Davis found that recycling trees onsite results in a climate-smart practice for California’s almond orchards. Their results found2 that whole orchard recycling can sequester 5 tons of carbon per hectare (equal to living car free for a year3), increase water-use efficiency by 20 percent and increase crop yields by 19 percent.

Along with the tree, the almond is grown in a shell, protected by a hull. With the Almond Orchard 2025 Goal for zero waste in mind, the almond community is researching new ways for almond coproducts to go to use. Traditionally hulls are used for livestock feed while the shells go to livestock bedding.

Zero Waste – Almond Orchard 2025 Goals

Ongoing research has already found some promising optimized uses for these materials. After undergoing a process known as torrefaction, essentially burning them in the absence of oxygen, almond shells can be used as an additive in post-consumer recycled plastics, increasing its strength and heat stability. Research on almond hulls is looking at ways to use them for sugar extraction, mushroom cultivation, and black soldier fly feed. The almond community is on a mission to ensure that almonds are not just good for your health, but also good for the earth!

1 Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving on almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.

2 Emad Jahanzad, et al. Orchard recycling improves climate change adaptation and mitigation potential of almond production systems. PLoS ONE. March 2020.

3 Seth Wynes, et al. The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Environmental Research Letters. 2017.

Topics: Growing Good