I just received my order of a 10 pound bag of raw unpasteurized almonds. I ordered them from Briden Wilson Farm.
In 2008, the USDA mandated that all almonds sold in stores must be sterilized. There are two ways of sterilizing. One is by fumigating them with propylene ozide (PPO), which the FDA recognizes as a carcinogen. Sounds delicious, huh? Steaming is the second way to sterilize. Certified organic almonds cannot be treated with PPO. They are steamed, which means they are no longer raw. But at least they aren't a carcinogen.
The most shocking part is that almonds that have been sterilized can (and are) still be labeled as raw. Also, labels on store-bought almonds do not have to tell you which method of sterilization was used. Isn't it nice to know that product labeling is so clear for consumers? Many consumers have continued buying almonds labeled raw from stores having no knowledge of these changes. I disagree with the deceitful labeling more than anything. That's just not right.
Who is the FDA watching out for here? Small farms have a hard time being able to afford the equipment necessary for selling their almonds in stores. That's a benefit to big corporations. By the way, don't take my word for any of this - just google raw almonds pasteurized. There are tons of articles about this awful regulation.
THE GOOD NEWS
There are still ways to get raw almonds. Buy directly from small farmers. If there are growers close to you, buy from them. If not, order online. It's easy and so much cheaper than buying from the large corporations. I sure do like helping the small farmers. There are a number of good sites to order from. I listed one at the beginning of this post, but plenty of others are out there.
When it comes to food and farming, it's becoming obvious that bigger is not better. And anyway... it's not nice to mess with Mother Nature!