When you look at a side-by-side comparison between cow’s milk and plant-based alternatives, there is little doubt that the dairy-free option will always come with a smaller land and water footprint – and because we’re dealing with plants rather than animals, dairy-free products also come without the whole waste hassle (yes, we’re talking about manure here). But within the plant-based milk sector, there has been significant debate over which alternatives are more sustainable than others.
Take for example almond milk. Since this is the most popular nut milk – and it is kicking dairy’s butt – it has been dragged through the mud as being “unsustainable” due to its large water footprint. Now for the record, it takes an average of 30 gallons of water to produce one glass of cow’s milk and 23 gallons to produce one glass of almond milk, so the almond’s water needs are lower. Not to mention, 90 percent of the world’s almonds come from the U.S., more specifically, California – and these crops only account for around 10 percent of the state’s water use, while livestock uses up around 47 percent. Granted, almond milk may not be the villain that the dairy industry wishes we would think it is, BUT that does not mean that it is the most planet-friendly option.
In a recent episode of #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias, Jim Richards, CEO of Milkadamia, discusses the many ways that macadamia milk actually outpaces other alternatives in terms of sustainability.
As Jim explains, Milkadamia starts with macadamia nuts that are grown on family farms in Australia, and there is a stark difference between Milkadamia’s farms and other commercial producers in the region. Namely, Milkadamia farmers utilize regenerative farming methods. Broadly, regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increase biodiversity, enriches soils, and works to optimize the land’s ecology so that it can capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation. Pretty cool, right?
The macadamia tree is native to the Australian rainforest, so on the Milkadamia farms, they strive to keep the environmental conditions as such to ensure these trees are not “on life support,” or in simple terms, don’t need undue fertilizing and watering to thrive. Jim shares that if 20 percent of currently cultivated land switched over to regenerative farming, the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere could be reversed. Moreover, they utilize natural methods of pest control and aim to keep their end products as clean as possible by refusing to add harmful preservatives or emulsifiers. All of these tenets are artfully stilled into the Milkadamia brand and the company’s success illustrates the fact that consumers are making values-based choices.
In this fascinating interview, Jim also dives into the nutritional benefits of the macadamia nut and speaks to the challenges and obstacles they have faced breaking into the plant-based milk space. By in large, this interview is dominated by Jim’s belief that we can and should make products that are as good for us as they are for the environment, and if there is one company that is going to lead the way to creating a new standard for sustainability … it’s going to be Milkadamia.
You can listen to the full episode below or on the following platforms: iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher.
If you like this episode, be sure to subscribe to the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast for new episodes with food industry leaders, health, and sustainability experts, as well as entrepreneurs and creative minds who are redefining the future of food – and order your copy of the #EatForThePlanet book!
Image source: Milkdamia/Facebook