…let’s take a look at that.

Sorry.

Still chugging almond milk, despite everything we’ve told you this past year? There’s some good news: you may not be destroying the environment as much as you’ve continued to not care about. Why? Because of the bad news: you are likely getting duped.

According to a new lawsuit, Almond Breeze products only contain 2 percent of almonds and mostly consist of water, sugar, sunflower lecithin, and carrageenan, the blog Food Navigator reports. Almond Breeze is among the top five milk substitute brands in the country.

The class action lawsuit, filed by two unhappy almond milk drinkers in the US District Court in New York earlier this month, seeks $5 million in damages from the products’ distributor, Blue Diamond Growers.

While Blue Diamond Growers doesn’t label how much of a percentage of its milk is made from almonds, plaintiffs Tracy Albert and Dimitrios Malaxianis say the company is misleading consumers by its claim on the front of the package that it is “made from real almonds.” [source]

I want to talk to you a little bit about almond milk, as someone who has made her own and was extremely surprised by the process involved with getting even a quart of it:

It is expensive.

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When you consider how it takes several cups of almonds to get even a liter of it, there’s maybe 4 cups to a pound of almonds, and a pound of almonds will run you at least $6 depending upon where you get them… a $3 container of almond milk doesn’t make sense.

In fact, one of the very few brands to actually offer additive-free almond milk, Califia Farms, was selling it for more like $8 – which, to me, made sense – until they, too, ultimately gave up and started using additives, as well.

But what additives? And how much?

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Here’s a look at the ingredients list for the refrigerated form of Blue Diamond Almond Milk:

ALMONDMILK (FILTERED WATER, ALMONDS), EVAPORATED CANE JUICE, CALCIUM CARBONATE, SEA SALT, POTASSIUM CITRATE, CARRAGEENAN, SUNFLOWER LECITHIN, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, VITAMIN D2, D-ALPHA-TOCOPHEROL (NATURAL VITAMIN E). [source]

Let’s break this down:

Calcium carbonate: chalk. No, literally. It’s merely a tasteless and odorless powder, usually from limestone.

Carrageenan: Irish moss, akin to seaweed. When used in food, it’s often an emulsifier – something used to bind together things that otherwise might not bind on their own.

Evaporated cane juice: the juice extracted from sugar cane in the process of making granulated sugar.

Potassium citrate: translucent powder used to neutralize acidic foods. So, if you were adding additives to a food and found that it was a tad bit too acidic and was wrecking havoc on your customer’s insides, you’d add this stuff to it.

Sunflower lecithin: all lecithins – sunflower, soy, corn, etc – work the same. The point is to soften and thicken, sort of like taking a water and turning into something creamier than you thought you were getting.

Vitamin A palmitate: an oily liquid intended to increase the nutritional value of an item that has had its nutritional value diluted.

Vitamin D2: an oily liquid – now you see why the potassium citrate was necessary – intended to increase the nutritional value of an item that has had its nutritional value diluted. Breakfast cereals, vitamin D milks, margarine, and skim milks are notorious for having this stuff.

D-alpha tocopherol: a form of Vitamin E, adistilled vegetable oil, usually from corn, soybean and canola oils due to their inexpensiveness and availability.

If I recall correctly, the labeling on the packages might actually say “less than 2% of the following,” but anyone who has ever made homemade jam can tell you – a tablespoon of liquid turns several pounds of fruit into jam… and that’s the “more natural” stuff. The hyper-concentrated powders and juices? I can only imagine it takes even less than that when you use those instead.

So, if the percentage of almonds in your almond milk is somewhere around 2% as the lawsuit alleges… we’re paying upwards of $3 for a quart of water with a small amount of almonds and a large amount of filler and fake nutrients.

Yikes.

What does this mean for lovers of almond milk?

For one, decide if it’s worth it to you to pay $3 for filler and two almonds. If it is, then at least you have a better idea of what you’re paying for. If not, consider making your own almond milk.

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As more brands of almond milk become more readily available to the public, they are often forced (usually by investors) to cut production costs, and this largely includes the cost of almonds. When the price of my once-favorite almond milk dropped by almost $3, I knew something was wrong. I turned it over and looked at the ingredients list, and immediately understood why. It was full of filler. The likelihood that a filler-free almond milk would be readily available and able to be recommended across the country is low. The likelihood that it’d be comparable in price to Blue Diamond brand is, also, low.

Consider making your own. I photographed my own recipe for making your own, but then my boo Hey Fran Hey did a video explaining how to make it, and since I like Fran, I’m gonna say you should check out her video.

For two, consider shifting towards recipes that don’t require almond milk. If you’re attached to a morning cereal with almond milk, consider ditching the cereal in favor of oatmeal or crunchy granola on top of greek yogurt.

What do you think? What other ways could you – or have you – swapped out the need for almond milk? Need help with suggestions? Share!