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By Supporting California Family Farmers We are Saying Yes to Life

Jesse Schwartz,Ph.D.
President Living Tree Community Foods

It happened. On Monday,March 9th it happened. A judge in a federal court in Washington tossed out a lawsuit brought by almond growers challenging the USDA’s mandatory pasteurization of almonds. This rule has been in effect since September 2007. It requires that organic almonds be treated with steam and conventional almonds with propylene oxide a poisonous gas and known carcinogen . This has been a defeat for the forces of aliveness in this country. It is tragic that one of the most nutritious and health giving of foods is required by law to be either steamed or fumigated.

Our business is built upon the California almond. For nearly 30 years we’ve been purchasing organic almonds grown in California. We are proud to support California family farmers. Now the law exempts imported almonds from the rule. We’ve been utilizing,most reluctantly, European almonds. We’ve decided to return to our roots.Henceforth we shall sell only California almonds and use only California almonds in making our almond butter. They are of higher quality and more nutritious. They are grown in the wondrous fertile soil of the Central Valley. It was once a great inland sea. California almonds are sweeter and their flavor is richer and more complex. They are simply the best.

This means that the almonds we shall be selling will have been processed using a minimal amount of heat in compliance with the USDA rule. They are exposed to steam for 8 seconds at 210- 215°F.(In our newsletter of 3/16/09 I gave it as 18 seconds,I have since learned that its 8 seconds.) Then for 44 seconds they are moved through a dehydrating tunnel to remove the moisture resulting from the steam..The circulating air temperature is 391- 395°F. During this process the almonds are 221-220°F on their surface and 110- 115°F at their core.

At Living Tree Community Foods we feel it is essential to support family farmers. They are threatened as never before. As the Cornucopia Institute states in their press release of March 11,2009:-
Almond farmers and handlers engaged in the sale of raw and/or organic almonds have watched their operations disintegrate as a result of the treatment mandate. Consumers and retailers have turned to foreign suppliers, taking advantage of the regulatory loophole, for untreated raw and organic almonds.(Sic).

To purchase almonds from Spain is to undermine what is alive and living in American agriculture. Consider, that a moment ago,the US led the world in the production of organic sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Now virtually all are imported from China.We must not allow this to happen again! American almond growers must not be outsourced!!

At Living Tree Community we have been buying almonds from California family farmers since 1979. More than any documentation,more any certificate, established business relations, spanning decades, based upon a handshake and face to face contact, are surely the best assurance. We refuse to give this up. We refuse to deal with an anonymous, multinational conglomerate in Europe. We refuse to participate in the outscourcing of the American almond industry. This is but a temporary defeat. The growers are looking into alternatives. Consider, for example,that ground beef and raw milk are potentially more dangerous. They are inspected regularly by government inspectors. The same could be done, at least with organic almonds. Then there are several new, non- thermal pasteurization procedures utilizing ozone and ultraviolet light. Alternatively, why not just put a warning on a jar advising of the risks- Beware,beware his flashing eyes,his floating hair!

Henceforth we shall offer only California almonds. We do so with joy and gladness. What we lose by 8 seconds of steam we more than gain by supporting California family farmers.In conjunction with the Cornucopia Institute, California farmers are leading the struggle to bring back your original almonds.They will appeal the court ruling. Even though Federal Court proceedings are expensive, they are seeing this through for you and all of humanity. They symbolize what is alive and vibrant in this America.

Thomas Jefferson was right. In a letter to George Washington in 1787 he wrote, “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness”.

Abraham Lincoln was right. In his inauguration address he said,“Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?” By supporting California almond growers we are but realizing his vision of a “new birth of freedom”. We are saying yes to life!