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Bees are essential to the almond industry, and billions are dying in the process (theguardian.com)
153 points by prostoalex 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 125 comments

Seems the problem is pesticide use, not necessarily almond cultivation. Perhaps I am splitting hairs, but there are few good protein sources available today and tree nuts are plentiful in my region. It is hard to imagine that those cow farms in the central valley and elsewhere are any more moral or sustainable.

I think the issue with almonds is that by growing them in massive monoculture you create bee deserts for the majority of the year when the almonds aren't flowering. Once the flowers disappear, any remaining bees will starve until the next year. So this criticism could be leveled essentially against almost any large scale monoculture crop.

I'd be interested to know why almonds (and avocados) are usually highlighted here. Are other flowering crops typically grown in more diverse environments?

One of these documentaries was claiming that bees aren’t that excited about almond flowers and they will choose anything else to pollinate over them.

This to explain why you see almonds growing essentially in dirt. Other flowers would outcompete.

Personally I suspect there are plenty of plants that don’t overlap much with almond flowering that you could use.

There just aren’t enough bees locally to pollinate the hundreds of thousands of acres of almonds that all flower at the same time. And you have to pollinate every flower to get a nut.

It’s remarkable what California almond industry has achieved. It’s also unsustainable and harmful to bees.

Almonds as a crop aren't going to provide enough nutrients for bees, but yeah, it's an issue anywhere large monocultures exits.

I'm not sure that is the issue, because beekeepers would move elsewhere after the almond season, right?

Which other crops rely on bee pollination? Soy? Corn? Fruits?

Soy is self-fertile, while corn is wind pollinated.

Pulses are a great source of protein.

One might wonder when looking at the almond monoculture, which looks like some kind of apocalypse, whether there isn't an alternative. How about seeding wild flowers between the rows, for instance, so bees can actually live there?

In Europe it has become common to seed a headland around crops that is bug friendly, for one example. There are financial incentives for this in the subsidy too.

It's an 11B a year business, so naturally monoculture is the first thing people think of to make even more. If the bees die off in increasing numbers the problem will solve itself in enough time (as in no more almonds). Same thing can be said of humans, if we do enough stupid things eventually nature will reclaim the world from us.

Anderson Almonds clearly thinks differently and has none of the issues, but makes less money per acre so that would not interest the big growers. Maybe someday only Anderson will have almonds to sell...

There is one example of this mentioned in the article. And, as you say, the guy does it differently, faces none of the problems.

its not just wild flowers..

fro bees to sruvive winter its

vetch mustard goldenrod alfa

that will supply the full spring to fall diet for bees

I put it in my father's garden every year as farmers have killed all that by the roadside

Is there a typo in “vetch mustard goldenrod alfa”?

Googling it brings up this thread and your comment as the top hit...

It's a (poorly formatted) list of plants that bloom at different times.

s/ /, /g


Bees are not essential to the almond industry in general, but to the US almond industry in particular because US is focusing on almond varieties that are not the best nor auto-compatible (so they need bees to pollinate), but have the economic advantage of having a very good ratio between the weight of shell over the seed inside. This is good to get the maximum earning, but is bad both for human health because the thin shell allows for the almonds to be more easily contaminated, and for bees because of what the article says.

If the US almond industry is 80% of world almond industry and bees are essential to them then bees are essential to the almond industry.

Talking quantity yes, that's the case, taking quality or genetic diversity of almonds, or even almonds in the tradition of locals, nope. It depends.

in other words, CA could not have chosen a worst crop to grow (I heard that it also requires a lot of water to grow, something that CA is short on)

Oh I forgot to mention water! Actually almonds can grow almost without any water at all, this is how we do it in Sicily, but certain varieties will yield 2x product if you use water. Hence in CA usually water is used, but with systems to use as little as possible.

It makes me irrationally angry how often things could be done sustainably but of course aren’t because there’s no strong enough incentive to care about negative externalities.

California growing 80% of the worlds almond a isn’t sustainable. It used California water and it’s the depleting the nutrients in the soil.

And they transport almond milk in cartons all over that is worse. The packaging and the space it takes for transport and the protocol for liquid transporting and the carbon foot print of pasteurization and so much more are entirely unnecessary because almond milk is so easy to make from a powder/almond meal.

But consumers are used to pouring it from a carton. Consumer education is so essential.

Not necessarily. Almonds can grow without water but those varieties have deeper roots to tap into the ground water.

They were all uprooted and replaced by cultivars that are dwarf and early yielding. Two reasons: the root stock takes care of resistance to certain soil disease and secondly harvest.

Almonds are harvested by mechanical ‘shakers’. Giant ‘arms’ that shake the tree and then vaccum the fallen nuts.

So what we need is uniform height dwarf trees that are disease resistant and are spaced optimally for equipment and machinery for spraying, banding, harvesting etc.

You have to think of these commercial orchards as open air factory assembly lines. This isn’t nature. This is factories without safety and environmental rules to follow. Because there is no OSHA for bees.

Actually California is no longer in drought and has plenty of water (for now)

No. That is not true. California water situation is very complex and convoluted. There are a bunch of zones that have water rights grandfathered to them but have the legislation permitting them to lease it.

It’s really a mess. Google ‘Resnicks’ and water in California.

Ok: here is one..there are so many other articles https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/08/lynda-stewar...

Its something I have posted here on HN before.. it’s really complicated. Short answer: we are not out of water scarcity.

Drought.gov, ran by FEMA/NDRP indicates no drought[0], as well as well as the NDMC/USDA ran Drought Monitor[1].

If everyone is insistent that the drought is still continuing, can someone please point me to some (current) data that indicates it?

[0] : https://www.drought.gov/drought/states/california

[1] : https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonito...

Aquifer depletion is a big problem too. We pull underground water faster than it is replenished. This can permanently shrink the capacity of aquifers and/or make them unreachable.

And salt water intrusion in Monterrey county..Salinas river and Salinas valley is known as the salad bowl. It’s a ticking bomb for salt water intrusion. Already areas around San Juan Bautista have no water..no matter how deep they drill..

Almonds use way too much water and they shouldn't be grown in California. Over a gallon of water is needed to grow 1 almond.


From the article: “[The farmers] also completely disagree that one almond takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow and are appalled to think people would believe that. On the other hand, there are countless articles that stand behind the findings of almonds and other nuts using too much water. If I had to chose who to believe, I would stick with the farmers since they are dealing with the almonds first hand, and not the media []”

Why is the water "wasted"? It doesn't go away like burning fuel or become irreversibly contaminated in the process.

>19%: The Great Water-Power Wake-Up Call

>A few years back, number crunchers at the California Energy Commission tried to add up how much electrical power (and other forms of energy) goes into using water in California. The bottom line number they came up with: 19%. That is, nearly a fifth of all the power generated in California — as well as huge quantities of natural gas and diesel fuel consumed in the state — goes into water-related uses.


Irrigation is a CO2 emitter - especially when water is transported all the way from the Colorado River to California farms.

Is that a lot? I can't imagine a better use for power than sustaining the basic necessity of life.

The basic necessity of life: "almonds".

The 19% figure refers to just almonds?

No, it was a tongue in cheek comment, but the majority of that figure is used for high value cash crops, not for basic necessities.

Because it evaporates or seeps into the ground and is no longer in a useful form any more. That's why it's a "waste"ful use.

> become irreversibly contaminated

Well if you're spraying pesticides and fertilisers the water is likely being contaminated.

Also, minerals in the soil can contaminate drainwater.


From what I understand in CA fresh water is in short supply due certain users essentially getting it for free.

Also: remember that while water is part of a natural cycle, aquifers are used up and don’t get replenished.

Many aquifers do get replenished. It depends on the aquifer.

For example, Texas's Edwards Aquifer, near San Antonio, has a large recharge zone.

The article fails to mention an of the viruses that are carried by the Varroa mite. The problem in not only the mites physically attacking the bees, but the proliferation of a suite of viruses they carry. One that is particularly harmful is the 'Deformed wing virus' (DWV) [0].

Luckily there are some promising developments on this front. Research efforts led by Paul Stamets [1] have developed an extract derived from mushrooms that, when fed to the bee colonies, have been shown to drastically reduce DWV and Lake Sinai virus.[2]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deformed_wing_virus [1] https://fungi.com/pages/bees [2] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-32194-8

There is nothing coherent about the article.

Ok, lets make an almond tree that doesn't need bee's.

Now we'll have less bee keepers, since they will lose the work they are doing, and less bees.

Tomorrows article will be about bee collapses and how that matters.

Nothing in the article points to the almond process that's killing bees. It implies other activities in California are responsible perhaps we need to look there.

If they are trying to make a claim a bees life matters, then why does it matter over a grasshopper that's also killed by the pesticides?

They buried it

Pesticides are used for all kinds of crops across the state, but the almond, at 35m lb a year, is doused with greater absolute quantities than any other. One of the most widely applied pesticides is the herbicide glyphosate (AKA Roundup), which is a staple of large-scale almond growers and has been shown to be lethal to bees as well as cause cancer in humans. (The maker, Bayer-owned Monsanto, denies the cancer link when people use Roundup at the prescribed dosage. So far this year three US courts have found in favour of glyphosate users who developed forms of lymphoma; thousands more cases are pending.)

On top of the threat of pesticides, almond pollination is uniquely demanding for bees because colonies are aroused from winter dormancy about one to two months earlier than is natural. The sheer quantity of hives required far exceeds that of other crops – apples, America’s second-largest pollination crop, use only one-tenth the number of bees. And the bees are concentrated in one geographic region at the same time, exponentially increasing the risk of spreading sickness.

Glyphosate has been shown to be lethal to bees? Weird, since it targets an enzyme that only appears in non-animals.

Maybe they meant it's lethal to bees if you drop the bottle on one.

Unintended consequences can happen. Looks like it’s an active debate.


North Dakota (the top honey producing state in the USA) has a special section of its website for honey bees[1] and has a document called "NORTH DAKOTA POLLINATOR PLAN"[2] that might give some perspective from the beekeeper and state side.

1) https://www.nd.gov/ndda/plant-industries/apiary-honey-bees

2) https://www.nd.gov/ndda/sites/default/files/legacy/resource/...

Easy fix is to switch to Hemp or Oat Milk. I find them more interesting and I imagine hemp milk isn’t much of an issue for bees.

I'm definitely going to The Bad Place when I die, with all that almond milk I drink.

The honey bee is the Western honey bee. Although some call to it the European honey bee, it is not a "bad import from Europe".

This bee originated from Africa or Asia, before it got domesticated.

Word around Cali is that almonds are basically a way to export fresh water to China in a subsidized, condensed format.

Something to think about in an arid region.

I hope we are learning that substituting fake things for real things often have catastrophic effects. If fake meat becomes popular, this will get much worse. Food production is complex. Substituting one thing for another may seem like a good idea on the surface, but it ignores second order effects.

Obsession is an interesting way to characterize one of the great alternatives to cow's milk for people who cannot consume dairy or refuse to support the torture of cows for their milk. The livelihood of bees or climate change? The duality of man.

While I cannot speak for every farm that exists I've been working in dairy farming in Norway and torture isn't a word I would use.

If those animals were tortured your wouldn't expect them to approach us almost like pets would do and generally behave as if they liked us.

Edit: added "that exists" Also, FWIW since I grew up there's been introduced a number of regulations to improve animal welfare so I expect it to be better today that it used to be.

I consider forcing cows to go through pregnancy and giving birth, only to be immediately separated from their children so that they can go back to producing milk for us, torture. That's just me though.

You'll quickly end up with some very unsettling conclusions if you follow this line of reasoning. I am not saying it's wrong, just that society isn't quite prepared for the implications.

But, you know, if you assign human ethics to animals, there's relatively little we do to animals that's less than abhorrent. Pets are okay to a significant degree. But just about everything else falls out the window if you start to consider the idea that animals may be sentient and have thoughts, feelings and emotions the way that humans do.

I guess what I'm saying that in an ideal world I'd be a vegan, but for now it's challenging enough to go through life eating everything nature has turned out to make possible. Nature is absolutely cruel (well, doesn't care at least), and humanity is just another part of it.

To be clear, you are saying that veganism is irrational because under vegan ethics, ...nonveganism is immoral?

Furthermore, it's unclear how your argument is fixed at the human/non-human boundary. Nature is cruel intraspecies as well, so your line of thinking also challenges the notion that slavery and race- or clan-based oppression is wrong.

I'm saying that there'a a good argument to be made that we'll consider today's domestication, breeding and exploitation of animals immoral.

But that the world isn't ready to make that moral judgement yet, because the alternatives to meat and animal products aren't convenient enough. We like to consider morality absolute, but it's strongly affected by a society's requirements.

As a side note, vegans probably have a more sound moral judgement than the rest of us.

There have obviously been cultures that considered slavery and various forms of oppression morally right, but I don't think my argument states that this is okay; quite the opposite.

"vegans probably have a more sound moral judgement than the rest of us"

Whoa! That's what is call generalisation... On the other hand diet had nothing to do with moral, it's all about health! None of the extremes are good, our body still have the hunter-gatherer digestion system

The perfect is the enemy of the good. Just because lots of things are cruel or everything is cruel or there is a spectrum of cruelty in this process but we're not at the worst of it… none of that is an argument against being less cruel nor against applying ethics fairly.

The unsettling conclusion would be to ignore ethics for convenience.

I grew up on cow and buffalo milk because we had cows and then we collectively owned a cow with a few families and hired a milkman.

The problem is over population. We have far surpassed carrying capacity and you can’t feed the billions with humane animal food. Especially when everyone thinks dairy and almonds should be cheap and available to all. Add capitalism on top of it as gluttonous consumerism thrives in a world burdened by overpopulation..when people don’t consider that resources are limited and having excessive progeny is akin to stealing shared resources from the commons, there is no polite way to point it out to them except to ask them to procreate responsibly. Each according to their means. But even better 1/2 surviving child/ person for long term comfortable survival of our species. Less than optimal: 1 surviving child per person for long term bare maintainence of our species.

If someone is at the point where they consider exploiting animals for their milk basically torture, I think they've probably already taken the logic to its natural conclusion.

Otherwise known as 'veganism'.

It's not at all a challenge for an individual any more except in certain areas (e.g. northern Norway).

In most major cities vegan food is everywhere. In some countries McDonalds has vegan stuff for christ's sake. We arrived.

It's about as much of a challenge as putting a differently coloured shirt on in the morning. Of course, you have to want that colour first.

If you don't care, that's fine, but this shifty "oh but we're not ready", "falls out of the window" nonsense doesn't really come across well at all. Who are you trying to convince?

Yes, I am talking about veganism. (I'm probably just incidentally arguing in favor of veganism by arriving at the same ethical reasoning; I don't follow the principles and views of this movement to any significant degree).

It is obviously less convenient to be a vegan than to be omnivorous because, at the very least, you actually have to think about what you eat. Both from a purely pragmatic perspective ("does this product contain any animal products?") and wrt. healthy nutrition.

It is practical to do this, but it's not convenient. And that makes a big difference in a society where time and attention is at a premium. Pragmatically, there needs to be a big shift in attitudes, probably prompted by the trivial availability of ingredients equivalent to the main classes of animal products, before the moral view that exploitation of animals is immoral will become mainstream.

Right; but you're conflating individual action with societal attitude. If you want to be vegan, no-one is stopping you. If you don't, don't. There is no need to sit on the fence all wishy-washy.

I strongly disagree that it's not convenient.

By that line of argument making any active choice at all is "not convenient".

You specifically call out nutrition as an example. You can pretty much literally directly switch out meat for substitute meat.

It's not convenient to say, cycle 30km to work instead of driving, without making major life changes. It takes substantially more time, changes the way in which errands are done, etc.

Buying a different thing from the supermarket and cooking it is trivial. If anything eating meat is more faff because the risk of food poisoning is way higher if you e.g. cook chicken badly.

I don't like coffee so I tend to drink tea. Is that inconvenient? It makes no sense to me as a concept; even if it is (it's really not), who cares? I don't want the coffee?

>only to be immediately separated from their children

And then killing the children. And doing that again and again.

Unless they use sexed semen (more expensive, but means they at least aren't producing male calves and then sending them off to be killed).

Cows produce more calves than are needed for dairy business.

With rape racks.


(It’s not a cow running towards a yodeling Swiss milkmaid)

[..] The “rape rack” is a narrow, chute-like device in which female cows are restrained while they undergo a process the dairy industry euphemistically refers to as “artificial insemination.” During artificial insemination (AI), a dairy worker inserts one of his arms into the rectum of a restrained cow and, with his other arm, inserts a rod-like device called an Al gun into her vagina. The Al gun, which contains bull semen, is pushed in further until it reaches the cervix (the entrance to the uterus). The semen is then injected into the uterus.[..]

When you put it like that, it almost certainly seems like torture. What's interesting to think about -- if a species/animal isn't capable of comprehending this emotional loss, then it is torture? Furthermore, how do we measure/know if an animal can actually feel such a deep emotional loss? Many animals cannot communicate. I am so interested to know what a cow thinks. What any animal thinks. It's easy to know what humans think because their informational bitrate is huge.

IIRC cows can feel postpartum depression, so it makes sense that this would be torture. But if we did this to bacteria (maybe even bees), the moral dilemma seems to disappear.

It seems that animal nervous systems are more humanlike than previously assumed, and apparently, cows are quite complex emotional animals.



Most mammals communicate pain in recognizable ways. Including cows and calves.

I'll give you an upvote for that as it is thought provoking. Thinking about I fell down to my previous position though as otherwise I would have to consider the Western society to be torturing humans - and women in particular - by expecting them to go back to work within weeks or months after giving birth. Compared to the much shorter lifespan of cows and the much longer time it takes for a human baby to become independent I think some cows spend more of the important time with their offspring than certain human mothers do.

You might say it is voluntarily but I know that isn't the entire truth and I'm tempted to say as my socialist friend that slavery is still slavery even if it is wage slavery and the slave got to take responsibility for a whole lot more than they used to like feeding themselves, choosing a prtner in life and making sure they have a place to live.

You might be surprised to hear this, but I would agree with that perspective. Most humans are just like cattle from the perspective of human society and throughout our lives will have resources extracted from us one way or another. The way I've seen some humans get out of this cycle is by becoming the ones who do the extracting. I don't think cows are capable of doing something so cruel though.

> Thinking about I fell down to my previous position though as otherwise I would have to consider the Western society to be torturing humans - and women in particular - by expecting them to go back to work within weeks or months after giving birth.

The OP was referring to "torturing" cows for milk, and you are referring to "torturing" women with respect to maternity leave.

What is your definition of "torture"?

That is an expectation, not a requirement. Back in socialism days in eastern Europe, it was forced - that indeed was torture.

It’s a hotly-debated* expectation if you’re a married (or otherwise stably-partnered) middle class or richer woman, but a requirement if you’re single or poor, at least in the US.

Well-off women with good jobs get a few months of paid leave (at most); poorer women with crappy jobs do not get paid leave, just a right to get their job back after 12 weeks of unpaid leave most of them can’t afford to take.

*Hotly-debated because my friends (married, with well-paying jobs they really like) got varying amounts of pressure from their extended families and social circles not to work.

They were both talking about separating individuals (humans or animals) from their offspring and calling it a form of torture.

Just go see a farm in the US. My uncle also has a cute farm in France where each cow has a name. If you look at one of those farms in California around I-5 you’ll probably become vegetarian just from the stench.

Growing almonds in California is pretty unethical. Have you tried oat milk?

Agreed on that as a CA resident! I haven't tried oat milk but I see it around and it's good to have new alternatives. There's also soy milk and others like flaxseed milk.

My comment was just about the article's characterization of almond milk drinkers. I wonder who would benefit from demonizing one of the few alternatives to cow's milk?

Oat milk is too sweet.

Oat milk? Shouldn't that be oat juice?

Oats aren't animals that produce milk for their offspring.

it's a marketing thing... you wouldn't understand.

In most of Europe, you cannot call plant-based drinks milk, as that's a misleading name, as pointed out... they have to call it what it is, e.g. "almond drink", "soy drink" etc..

Are you sure? I'm fairly sure that was just a US FDA thing – “milk” has been used to describe sap and juices in Europe for many, many years – iirc that's where the word “lettuce” comes from.

"the word “milk” is a protected denomination reserved only for mammary secretions. (This stipulation is found in the EU’s Single CMO Regulation)" - http://www.ensa-eu.org/eu-legislation/food-labeling/

I've just bought some wheat, rice and almond milk in Prague, CZ. The thing is that this rule applies only if it's not known that it is a metaphor - e.g. there is a "rum drink" that is not a rum and it used to be called "tuzemsky rum" (local rum), now it's "tuzemak" (abbreviation of the first word); similar situations was with different kinds of fruit jams. At the same time, almond milk... well, everyone knows almond tree is not a cow.

Italians call almond milk latte di mandorle. Nobody confuses it with milk to my knowledge

Of course I understand the propensity for corporations to lie about their products. But words are supposed to mean things. You shouldn't be able to just make shit mean whatever you want it to mean.

The propensity to lie in marketing is why there are rules against such behaviour in many jurisdictions. For example, in the US the term "ice cream" is reserved for frozen dairy desserts with a minimum fat content of 10%. Any less and you can't use the word "ice cream".

Similarly, in the EU one would have to call the abomination you call "oat milk", oat drink or something similar, since "milk" is a protected denomination reserved only for mammary secretions.

> in the EU one would have to call the abomination you call "oat milk", oat drink or something similar, since "milk" is a protected denomination reserved only for mammary secretions.

I've bought almond milk and oat milk in the the UK, which is still the EU for a couple of weeks.

> words are supposed to mean things


s/the abomination/what/

This is full of lies, it is not an ethical alternative to cow's milk because it uses a ton of natural resources to produce. It is also foolish to say bees and climate change are mutually exclusive factors. Bees being alive will help curb climate change. You cannot live without bees in the world. Put the almond milk down.

> This is full of lies, it is not an ethical alternative to cow's milk because it uses a ton of natural resources to produce.

What doesn't take a ton of resources to produce while still being nutritious? What's unethical about taking natural resources to produce food in the first place? Nature is all about eating itself, perpetually.

> You cannot live without bees in the world.

That's a myth.

> What doesn't take a ton of resources to produce while still being nutritious?

Absolutely? Nothing. Relatively? Just about anything but animals and nuts.

Per gram of protein, nuts require more water than even beef:


Animals are pretty good at converting poor-quality plant protein into high-quality animal protein, along with certain micro-nutrients that plants do not contain at all, or at least not in a readily bio-available form.

Also, water in and of itself isn't an exhaustible resource. If it becomes too expensive, water-hungry foods like almonds will simply price themselves out of the market.

> Also, water in and of itself isn't an exhaustible resource

Freshwater, on the other hand.

> If it becomes too expensive, water-hungry foods like almonds will simply price themselves out of the market.

This macroeconomic argument hasn't played well. I've heard people say that carbon-based fuels will price themselves out if externalities become too severe. The end game is brimksmanship, and macroeconomic reasoning says its fine to deprive a local poor population of drinking water if local businesses can make greater profits selling almonds.

INTPenis 9 days ago [flagged]

From my perspective over here in Malmö, Sweden it's sort of funny how americans have obsessed with Almond milk. The memes, the taunts and so on.

Nobody I know drinks almond milk. We drink oat milk. The best manufacturer of oat replacement products for dairy is from this region of Sweden, Oatly. They make oat drinks, creams and ice cream.

Personally at 35 I've stopped drinking milk altogether because it's a drink for juveniles. So I only use oat milk replacement in cooking.


I grew up in America, and that view of milk as a children's drink was pretty common in my Scandinavian/Germanic heritage in the US.

When we went to restaurants, children ordered milk to drink, but an adult never would.

Milk was fine to put in your coffee or tea, but not to drink a cup of it. Milk was fine to use with cereal or to cook with, but not to drink plain.

I do not doubt your perspective at all; however, there are definitely at least parts of America where milk is not for adults to drink. My recent ancestors were dairy farmers in the upper midwest. I cannot think of a single time my parents or grandparents drank milk straight up. I won't say it never happened. It could just be my faulty memory. But if beer or coffee or juice was available, pretty much every adult would drink those. Even juice was pretty iffy. Juice for breakfast maybe. Any other time, and it was a child's drink as well.

Obviously, this is just one anecdote. Don't take it for data.

Having also lived in Germany and now Sweden, I will say that I believe milk is not often drunk plain by adults in either of these places.

My experience is the same. Children drank milk with meals, while adults drank coffee, tea, or water and juice at breakfast. I got my first taste of coffee at about 7 while eating lunch with my father in the fields.

Perhaps someone in the restaurant business could say how often adults order milk compared with children.

That's why the post is strange. I don't drink milk of any kind straight from the bottle.

It goes in cereal, mashed potatoes, cakes etc as an ingredient.

Porridge is about the most adult breakfast I can think of.

In the US the only milk my grandparents would drink was buttermilk (they called it "milk") that they made by culturing overnight on the kitchen counter. They called ordinary milk "sweet milk".

Your reply sorta proves his point

Americans are so obsessed with milk that the mere thought of not drinking it is seen as abnormal and weird

That’s a pretty juvenile point of view, milk isn’t even particularly good for you

>Americans are so obsessed with milk that the mere thought of not drinking it is seen as abnormal and weird

Simply refuting that milk is (only) for children proves obsession.


I think the parent comment to yours was uncouth, boisterous, and silly. I don't think his point necessarily was.

To roll that individual into 'American Obsession' is extraordinarily silly.

All I can find to say : "European superiority complex".

We individuals have different opinions from one another, over here in the colonies, to the surprise of many.

You made my point much better than I did. I don't even drink milk or know many people that do, I simply thought it bizarrely elitist to claim it's only for children.

> milk isn’t even particularly good for you

Well, it's not like the healthiness of foods is what guides the average American. With that said, I think it's not particularly relevant if anything is good for your or not, since a lot of what and how we eat is driven by culture, and not rooted into any underlying science or reason - e.g. three meals a day, cereal in the morning, milk for strong bones and so on. So yeah, drinking milk in the US is just a part of culture now, and I am convinced that all countries have similar quirks.

>Well, it's not like the healthiness of foods is what guides the average American.

point me to the national culture that prioritizes food healthiness. Given that 'Americans' are so obviously not prioritizing that (apparently?), i'd like to see the opposite country, one where every individual prioritizes the health consequences of each and every meal.

Extra credit for countries that eat healthy from imported food, and not just coincidentally healthy due to their local crops and harvests enforcing it as the cheaper and plentiful option.

I won't hold my breath.

Lots of anti-American sentiment around here. It's too bad that I seem to be the only one in this thread who thinks that these broad national generalizations of identity are actually hugely bigoted diatribe that has no real connection to the reality that we live in..

Guaranteed if I said something like "Germans all do.." i'd be flagged in minutes. I don't do that because 1) such statements are almost always false and 2) it's disrespectful and outside of what can happen in actual civil discourse.

All I ask : Let's try to keep in mind that these big bad nations are actually full of individuals, all with different ideas and concepts of how to live our lives.

I did say the 'average American', as opposed to 'all Americans, down to the last one'. You can choose to become defensive, but it is empirically true that the Americans are on the heavy side of things. I live in the UK and I could say the same thing about people here, though the US is much worse.

Out of OECD/Western countries, the USA has the highest BMI and obesity rates.

> point me to the national culture that prioritizes food healthiness

You are strawmanning here. I never claimed that there is such a thing as a culture that prioritizes food health, nor did I claim that the US is the opposite of that. But if you want examples at the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty, most notably Japan. There are European countries that are tackling the obesity problem more successfully than others, such at the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, France. For example, the Netherlands has made it illegal for fast food chains to be with a certain distance of schools.

"Out of OECD/Western countries, the USA has the highest BMI and obesity rates."

I think this may be misleading.

If you look at obesity rates, the US is an outlier, and around 38% compared to the UK at around 28% (from 2015, I think).

But if you look at overweight rates, the US is pretty close to average.[1] Germany, Canada, the Netherlands all seem to have a slightly higher frequency of overweight people.

I don't know why this is, but it seems like if the difference is in the number of more extreme individuals, then the cultural explanations don't make obvious sense.

[1]Page 30 of http://www.oecd.org/sdd/37964873.pdf

> Americans are so obsessed with milk that the mere thought of not drinking it is seen as abnormal and weird

I don't even drink it, but I'm not sure I can think of a single food that I would say is "for juveniles", especially one that I stopped consuming for that reason. Bizarrely elitist attitude.


This is honestly not really that silly of a perspective if you spend anytime outside of the US, especially non-Western countries. In Japan, for example, kids are forced to drink milk in school, many hate it, and it’s something almost no one drinks as an adult. Excluding butter’s use in foods (which is likewise an imported thing and has no corollary in traditional Japanese cuisine), dairy consumption is quite low. It even used to be a common insult, pre-WWII, to refer to someone who seemed overly Westernized as “stinking of butter.”

"In Japan, for example, kids are forced to drink milk in school, many hate it, and it’s something almost no one drinks as an adult"

I don't think it would be obviously wrong to characterize the US like that. Certainly I remember milk being a standard thing kind of pushed on you with school lunches, and I think I've heard that it has to do with the government wanting to support dairy farmers - but I think they say it's to ensure enough calcium or whatever.

There are millions of people in the US who are lactose intolerant, I'm sure, as well. I would say it's rare enough to see an adult drinking milk that I can't recall the last time.

Japanese references to "butter" aren't necessarily that negative - I remember reading somewhere that the first generation Acura TL was deliberately made to appeal more to the American market than previous models and someone referred to that with a metaphor of adding more butter or something along those lines.

South Korea has a dairy program for children and now they are taller than their former imperial overlords.

Of course billions of bees are dying every year, because 99.9% of bees don't live longer than six months.

I suspect that is not what this article is considering. Bees are usually able to sustain their populations, "dying" in this context implies "and not being replaced with new brood".

> ..."dying" in this context implies "and not being replaced with new brood".

No it doesn't. The bees that pollinate almonds are bred by beekeepers and sent out for this exact purpose. They will be replaced as long as the demand for their service remains.

Yeah, it does. The article is explicitly about colonies dying at an unexpectedly high rate.

> By October, 150 of Arp’s hives had been wiped out by mites, 12% of his inventory in just a few months.

> Commercial beekeepers who send their hives to the almond farms are seeing their bees die in record numbers, and nothing they do seems to stop the decline.

> This is more than one-third of commercial US bee colonies...

> In the early 1980s, when Arp was just selling honey, he would lose about 5% of his hives per year to disease or weather conditions. Around 2000, Arp’s bees started dying in greater numbers.

> First, he experienced a nearly 100% loss of his hives from an infestation of tracheal mites.

> Yeah, it does.

It doesn't. These losses will be replaced by the keepers.

> In the early 1980s, when Arp was just selling honey, he would lose about 5% of his hives per year to disease or weather conditions. Around 2000, Arp’s bees started dying in greater numbers.

If this guy has been losing 5-10% of his colonies for forty years, how is he still in businesses? The bees/colonies get replaced, of course.

He makes 300k pollinating the almonds and spends 100k in the upkeep of the bees. Plus makes some side money selling honey... So he is doing ok.

This article doesn't seem to care all that much about accuracy. They just care about being dramatic.

For example: "glyphosate ... has been shown to be lethal to bees as well as cause cancer in humans"

Neither clause is true.

I don't feel like doing a line by line of the rest, but this is a garbage article.


Glyphosate/RoundUp etc has been shown to have high toxicity for bees and many other animals including humans.

It _was_ considered safe, new data and better science has changed that stance. The article isn't garbage.

Supporting this. I grew up with this stuff and while the ones I know would always use protective gear it was considered safe and the protection was used just to be really sure it seemed.

Today the situation is a lot more nuanced.

...and as I write this I think I could feel the smell of roundup or another herbicide, so yeah I've been exposed it :-/

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