If You Think You’re Getting Ripped Off On Almond Milk, You’re Probably Right

In the past two years, a lot of people have gone from reaching past the almond milk at the grocery store to now having it in their fridge near constantly. It hasn’t replaced regular old dairy milk entirely, but people are more and more often opting for this alternative. An excellent piece appeared on MotherJones last year pointing out that for all the hype almond milk is getting is actually not that great compared to the price. But hey, it’s healthier after all, right. Well, sort of, but more on that in a second.

Dairy milk is still the #1 choice out there and makes up some 90% of the milk industry, but as a nation we’re drinking fewer cups than we were forty years ago (the average is .6 compared to previously .9), and drinking more plant based alternative milk. About $1.4 billion worth in 2013.

Alternative plant-based milk isn’t really a new thing, either. Silk, the popular soy milk brand has been around since 1977 when it stormed the market, grossing out kids everywhere with tofu. But sales of Silk’s almond milk is surpassing soy and grew by more than 50 percent last year. So why all this hype about almonds over soy or anything of bovine origin?

Because almond milk is healthier just like your bag boy at Whole Foods has been telling you all along. Almond milk contains no saturated fat, is rich in vitamin E, and has fewer calories than soy. Plus, soy has always had a bit of a, well, icky reputation. Almonds are simply cooler.


What the MotherJones piece points out though is that almond milk, while healthy, is scamming us on the price to vitamin ratio.

A single ounce (28 grams) of almonds—nutrition info here—contains six grams of protein (about an egg’s worth), along with three grams of fiber (a medium banana) and 12 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (half an avocado). According to its label, an eight-ounce serving of Califia almond milk offers just one gram each of protein and fiber, and five grams of fat. A bottle of Califia delivers six eight-ounce servings, meaning that a handful of almonds contains as much protein as the mighty jug of this hot-selling beverage.

What we’re buying is an bottle of filtered water with roughly a handful of almond powder. “But wait a second, almonds are like really expensive, right?” Eh, not really, cashews and pistachios are. Almonds usually go for around $8-12 a pound, around .50 cents an ounce. A jug of almond milk will probably set you back $4. And all the vitamins that it’s supposed to be chocked full of…

“50% more calcium than milk,” the bottle declares, and “50% RDI of Vitamin E.” Almonds are a great source of these vital nutrients, but not that great. Our ounce of whole almonds contains 74 mg of calcium vs. 290 mg for a cup of whole milk.

So, would it be cheaper for us to quit buying almond milk and just stock up on a bag of almonds every couple of weeks to munch on while watching TV? Probably, but raw almonds just don’t taste as good in my Fruit Loops cereal as almond milk. And since people are into drinking plant milk at the moment, the industry is going to keep growing – whether we’re paying too much for the product or not.

Don’t feel like shelling out for almond milk, but still crave it? Make your own…

1 cup raw organic sprouted almonds – soaked overnight (this step reduces the level of phytates – here is a good tutorial)
4 cups pure filtered water
vanilla bean (optional)
dates, honey or stevia (optional)

Soak almonds in sea salt water for 12 hours. Rinse almonds and pour in blender with water. Blend then strain through a cheese cloth and poor back into blender with vanilla. Blend and refrigerate.

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