Are Cashews More Sustainable than Almonds?

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Are Cashews More Sustainable Than Almonds?

Ethical eating is something that’s increasing in popularity recently. This is a wonderful trend – people are starting to pay more attention to where their food comes from. Light is being shone on unethical and unsavory practices that lead to the food which ends up on our plates.

Following these ethical concerns, sustainability is something else we should be examining. A food can be incredibly healthy for you, but if it’s not sustainable, it’s not feasible to keep growing it.

With the recent trends in non-dairy milk, you might be curious to learn about how sustainable the nuts involved are. Particularly, almonds and cashews, which are two of the most popular nuts consumed today.

We’ll dive into the question of if cashews are more sustainable than almonds here, as well as a couple factors that contribute to sustainability.

Quick Answer: Are Cashews More Sustainable than Almonds?

Sort of. Cashews are significantly less water intensive than almonds. That means they make much less of an impact on the environment.

However, there are some ethical concerns with how the majority of cashews are harvested, such as poor treatment of employees.

Related Article: Where are Almonds Grown?

Sustainability Factors

Water Intensiveness

"The bottom line, though, is that almonds need more water than cashews, which makes cashews the victor in this comparison."

We’ll begin by looking at how water intensive both kinds of nuts are. To be honest, both are fairly water intensive, which means a lot of water is used to cultivate either one of them.

But there’s still a clear winner in this regard…and it’s the cashew.

Almonds are the most water intensive nut on the market today. Even worse, they’re mostly sourced from California, a place that frequently suffers from severe droughts.

This means that precious water reserves in California frequently have to be expended on almonds, when people could use the water more.

Some supporters of almonds argue that it’s more complicated than that, and that almond trees don’t really use much more water than other crops grown in California. The bottom line, though, is that almonds need more water than cashews, which makes cashews the victor in this comparison.

Read Also: Are Cashews Water Intensive?

Fair Trade Practices

Another factor worth your consideration is the treatment of the people involved in producing a food. This is truly the dark part of cashew production.

Since almonds are largely grown in California, they’re mostly subjected to the same safety standards the United States has for businesses.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of cashews, which are frequently harvested in other countries, such as Vietnam. In Vietnam, cashews are often produced in forced-labor camps, where people are paid extremely little to shuck them.

This is dangerous work. Cashews have caustic acids in their skin, and employees who aren’t provided gloves are subjected to painful burns.

So what can you do about it? Look for cashews that are fair trade-certified. You can rest easy knowing that these types of cashews are sold under humane conditions.

Health Benefits of Cashews and Almonds

"In a nutshell (pun fully intended!), almonds are a bit healthier for you than cashews."

There are health benefits to both cashews and almonds, which makes either one a delicious and nutritious snack.

If you’re concerned about calories, cashews tend to be lower in calories.

In terms of fats, though, almonds have more unsaturated ones. These are wonderful for your health, because they can raise good cholesterol in your blood, and lower the bad cholesterol.

Almonds also have more calcium and vitamin E in them than cashews.

In a nutshell (pun fully intended!), almonds are a bit healthier for you than cashews.

Wrap Up

There are many factors which determine whether or not a food is sustainable. We chose to look at ethics and water use for crops in this post.

By these standards, you could argue that cashews are more sustainable. However, we strongly recommend sticking to fair trade cashews if you can, so you can be sure your cashews were harvested in an ethical manner.

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