With climate change on the forefront of today’s cultural discussions, most people and businesses are turning time and effort into becoming sustainable and environmentally friendly. At Beyond the Equator we are doing our part by offering 5 Seed Butter as a less resource intense option than almond butter.
While almond butter tastes great, it puts a major strain on the environment. Each pound of shelled almonds requires on average 819 gallons of irrigated water to grow. The seeds in 5 Seed Butter take much less water to grow, requiring only about 81 gallons of irrigated water per pound—about 90% less than almond butter. 5 Seed Butter is a great, environmentally conscious alternative.
Comparing 1 Pound of Almond Butter to 5 Seed Butter:
What are the negative consequences of using so much water?
Almonds are primarily grown in California which has been devastated by drought and wildfire throughout the last two decades. Conditions became so dire that Governor Jerry Brown of California issued an executive order that directed the State Water Board to impose emergency water restrictions in 2015. How much of this is to blame on overusing natural water sources for agriculture? According to the Public Policy Institute of California, agriculture accounts for 80% of water used by all businesses and homes in California. Of agricultural water use, almonds account for 10%, making them a significant contributor to water shortages in the state.
Why do almonds take so much more water to grow?
Almonds are tree nuts and are native to the Mediterranean parts of the Middle East, where rainfall is plentiful compared to California—the center of global almond farming. The 5 seeds in in 5 Seed Butter are sunflower, pumpkin, chia, and hemp. Not only do these seeds require a lot less water to grow, but they tend to be cultivated in areas of the globe with more natural rainfall.
Where do these numbers come from?
The primary source for water requirements of certain crops is “The green, blue and grey water footprint of crops and derived crop products” by M. M. Mekonnen and A. Y. Hoekstra. The paper was peer reviewed and published in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences in 2011. They distinguish very clearly between types of water used:
1. Green Water
- Sourced from rainfall. Using green water doesn’t have a major effect on the environment.
2. Blue Water
- Sourced from surface or groundwater resources such as rivers, wells, or reservoirs. In agriculture, blue water is primarily used to irrigate crops.
3. Grey Water
- Sourced from surface or groundwater much like blue water, but used to “assimilate pollutants to meet specific water quality standards.”
For our calculations, we used the combined total of blue and grey water use for each crop, as blue and grey water usage has the more significant environmental impact. For a link to the study, click here. Sources are also listed below. One common number on the internet for almond water use is 1.1 gallons used per almond—this number is accurate and refers to an almond with its shell. The number of almonds per pound doubles once the shell is removed. There are approximately 400 almonds per pound with shell, and 800 almonds per pound without.