The Sacramento Bee will be doing a yearlong series on almonds. I can only understand this as meant for my personal gratification, presumably because I was good in a past life. May I suggest some stories I would love to see in this series? I will keep a running list here.
A story on the rise of almonds in our food. I believe our current levels of almond consumption are nearly entirely an artificially created demand. This reveals my crotchety aged self, but I remember when breakfast cereals didn’t have almonds in them and we ate them with cow’s milk, dagnabbit. Trail mix used to be peanuts and raisins, not almonds, white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Someone at the almond board has done an incredible job and I would love to read more about that person.
A compare and contrast between the original almond growers up near Chico and the new growers (last decade or so) in the San Joaquin. You could get some very nice Quainte Olde pictures of family farms in orchards up near Chico.
Used to be, there were two nut processors in the state, Blue Diamond and um, that other one. Are there more now? What happens to an almond when it leaves the orchard? Are the new large-scale growers vertically integrated?
What happens at the end of the production life of an almond orchard? There are a lot of irrigation equipment and trees to dispose of. I don’t suppose those trees can be burned, considering air quality management rules (maybe I am wrong). So what does happen? How will that work when three hundred thousand acres of new almond trees age out within five or ten years of each other?
As I look at the quote about Mr. Guadian’s 150 acres, I wonder who is financing the almond expansion. Who on earth would loan him $500,000 to dig a well, when (I assume) the collateral is land that will become worthless when the well goes dry? (My guess is that the land is mortgaged as well.) What bank is doing that? How is this different from the housing crisis? For that matter, like the housing crisis, how is the bank prepared to re-possess and clean up tens of thousands of acres of dead almond orchards?
As I think of more, I will leave them here. Thank you so much, Sacramento Bee!
Another idea! (March 3) How California almonds drove out production in the rest of the world. Was it pure price undercutting? Spain, Turkey, Iran all used to grow almonds. There is a reason those horrible wedding favors are called Jordan almonds. What happened when Californian almonds came into the market?