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Justin Fox

Amid a Drought, Cue the Almond Shaming

The almond, California's most successful crop, is coming under attack amid a devastating drought.
The fate of an almond tree without water.

The fate of an almond tree without water.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It takes a gallon of water to produce an almond. That’s one remarkable fact. Here’s another: 82 percent of the world’s almonds are grown in California, almost all of them in its agricultural heartland, the Central Valley. Here’s another: Almond growers use about 10 percent of the state’s water supply every year. And here’s yet another: California’s mountain snowpack, the main source of the Central Valley’s water, is at 5 percent of its historical average for this time of year.

Couple those remarkable facts with the spectacular rise of the almond and in particular almond milk as a dietary staple for the affluent and health-conscious -- a rise driven in part by the marketing efforts of the Almond Board of California -- and you have the makings of a collision, or a backlash, or something. My Bloomberg colleague Joe Weisenthal tried to get #almondshaming going as a Twitter hashtag Monday, and didn’t quite succeed. But there is definitely some almond shaming going on.