Almonds are a superfood, packed with healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium. They are also super healthy for the heart and are known to reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s no wonder people LOVE almonds.
One of the most in demand almond products in my kitchen is the Blue Diamond Almond Breeze beverage. It is the base for many amazing recipes (like my Ice Cream Chocolate Almond Float or Creamy Mushroom Pasta recipes). It is actually an ingredient that I cook with all the time! I’ll admit, I drink the Chocolate Almond Breeze beverage by the carton as well…
I got the chance to visit a Blue Diamond Growers almond farm and processing plant this past month and here are a few things I learned…
5 Cool California Almond Facts:
- Almonds are California’s #1 Agricultural export. I totally thought it was oranges, so that was a pleasant surprise.
- California produces 80% of the World’s Almonds at a billion pounds of exports to almost 100 countries every year. That’s A LOT of freaking almonds!
- California’s almond industry (domestic and export markets) contributes $11 billion to the economy and supports 104,000 jobs industry-wide. Who knew this small little nut had such a huge impact!
- Blue Diamond almond grower-owners account for more than half of California almond growers. So chances are if you’re eating an almond in your cereal, protein bar or smoothie– it’s from a Blue Diamond grower.
- The Blue Diamond cooperative has over 3000 growers with a family labor lineage ranging up to 4 generations; making Blue Diamond almonds truly a family-affair.
So Why Choose Blue Diamond Almond Breeze?
Seeing where food comes from is super inspiring. Farmers are some of the friendliest and hardest working people I have ever met, so I really appreciate how Blue Diamond works for the farmer. It was very evident that the farmers take a lot of pride in delivering the absolute best almonds to the consumer, and their passion and respect for the land they work on daily left me in awe. It truly is a family business full of growers who have perfected their craft. I’ll be making it a personal goal of mine to visit more farmers at the source and educate myself on the food that I love to consume daily.
Where are almonds from you ask? A little almond history…
Almonds weren’t always grown in California. Spanish missionaries brought the first almond trees over in the 18th century. The California Almond Growers Exchange was formed by 230 growers in 1910. This cooperative lead the way to a booming almond industry.
So how does this delicious Almond Breeze beverage make its way to our homes? (I mean besides just going to the grocery store). Let me take you on the journey from farm to table.
How are almonds grown?
Most people aren’t really sure if almonds are from the ground or if they grow on a bush (don’t worry if you didn’t know, we won’t tell anyone). They are actually grown on a medium sized tree in orchards, and those trees produce an incredible fragrant flower during blooming season. After the trees blossom, each flower produces a little nutlet. Once the nutlets have been pollinated, they form a fuzzy green jacket called a hull. This hull splits open to reveal an almond, soon to be ready for harvesting. It’s a very long growing process! Do you have an even greater appreciation for almond and farmers yet?
How are they are harvested?
Back in the day, almond harvesters would hit the almonds off the trees with rubber mallets. Nowadays, machines shake each tree to collect the fully-grown almonds (which are still in their protective hull shell). Then, a sweeper comes to sweep the hulls into a row for pick up where they are later de-shelled and ready for processing. Neat-O!
How are they processed?
Once the almonds have been de-shelled to just the ‘meat’ of the nut, they are trucked to 1 of 2 Blue Diamond processing plants. They are graded and tested for quality assurance before they are delivered to customers all over the World. I’m starting to wonder how many kilometers the little nut I am currently eating has travelled in its lifetime before it’s quick death in my mouth… too morbid?
And then what?
Blue Diamond has over 100 products that use almonds in various forms from sliced to diced, roasted, salted, beveraged (I’m aware that’s not a word- but I am making a point), and everything in between. They produce enough almonds annually to wrap around the world 72 times! It’s no surprise that you find almonds as an ingredient in so many products that we consume daily, including their ever-popular almond beverage, Almond Breeze!
Also, the white and pink blossoms were breathtaking, I highly recommend visiting an almond farm! Thanks so much to Blue Diamond and Almond Breeze for sharing their passion for almonds with me. I am so honored to be part of the Almond Breeze Family.
Thanks to Almond Breeze for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.