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Almond Crops in California
Blue Diamond Growers got its start in 1910 as a processing and marketing co-op for California almond growers. Today, there are six thousand almond farmers in California. Thirty five hundred of those farmers bring their product to the ninety-six-acre Blue Diamond processing facility. In peak season, twelve hundred workers keep the lines running for sixteen hours a day. The California almond crop is valued at over $1 billion annually and is the largest food export from California.
The Blue Diamond Company consists of two main brands:
- Blue Diamond Whole Almond Snacks
- Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Milk
Processing the Blue Diamond Almond
When the farmer delivers bulk almonds by the truckload, a sample is taken and carefully examined. Payment to the grower will depend on its quality. The nuts travel from silos, up to the top floor of a five-story building, where the cleaning, grading, and sorting operation begins.
The state-of -the-art plant in Sacramento uses top of line equipment to find only the best almonds. Using lasers or infrared detectors, the process knocks out almonds that seem too dark or too light. Sand, shell fragments, and damaged nuts are removed and excluded from sale to customers. Each and every almond is inspected by eyes that might catch something the process might miss.
How The Blue Diamond Company Handles Almonds For Their Customers
The Blue Diamond system produces exactly the type of almond the customer wants: raw, blanched, chopped, sliced, seasoned, diced, large or small almonds. To keep the product fresh before satisfying orders, there is enough cold storage for millions of pounds. Presently, The Blue Diamond Company is the single largest operation in the world for processing nuts.
Blue Diamond Almond Nutrition
Sam Cunningham is the director of the Almond Research Center, with offices at the Blue Diamond headquarters. Nutrition and health are always on his mind. Instantly, he can give you chapter and verse on the chemistry of almonds. He speaks of cyanide, glucose, amygdaline, prunasin, mamdelonitrite, and most important of all, benzaldahyde, the key to the basic almond taste.
Sam can tell you how almonds might help fight diabetes, allergies, cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. The health food industry is a ideal place to go with products like almond paste, almond butter, and almond milk for the lactose intolerant. These nut milks are known to be so incredibly nutritious, that they’ve historically been used as a substitute for mother’s milk when nursing and for cows’ milk in cooking. In Sam’s opinion, it’s “Tastier than soy milk.” His son came up with a slogan, and put it on a big sign in the office that says,
“Hey. Leave those cows alone!”