When it comes to popular milk alternatives, almond has been running the game. But recently, we've started to see competing cashew options pop up on the scene; Pacific Foods recently released its newest line of organic and Fair Trade Certified cashew milks. Leaving us to wonder which out of the two we should actually be buying — with price, taste, and environmental impact top of mind. Because as much as we love the dairy-free stuff in our morning smoothies, cereal, and coffee, the nut milk's production doesn't come without its downsides: According to a carbon footprint explainer on Mother Jones, it takes a whopping 1.1 gallons of water to grow just one almond — that coupled with the fact that the majority of almond farms in the U.S. reside within drought-plagued California. Could cashews be nut milk's new sustainable solution?
To seek out solid answers, we began by first tackling taste in order to discern if the two products were at all comparable. In a blind taste-test, we found that a cup of unsweetened cashew milk and a cup of unsweetened almond visually and texturally appeared identical. In addition, our almond milk-loving testers weren't able to accurately identify which product was which —stating that both products tasted, "just like almond milk." As the saying goes: Potato-potato; Almond milk-cashew milk.
With taste and texture tied between the two products, our next point of comparison was price. It turns out that a 32 fl. oz. carton of Pacific's almond milk generally retails anywhere from $2.95-$3.69, while a same-sized carton of its cashew milk is priced at $3.99. Although almond milk beat its cashew counterpart in cost, we still had one final question to answer. Which product is more sustainable? According to Milkadamia CEO Jim Richards, in an interview with Well & Good, "All nuts require a lot of water, but macadamias, coconuts, hazelnuts, and cashews (technically a drupe) can be sourced from places where H20 isn’t scarce."
With nearly no noticeable differences in drinkability, the decision between cashew and almond milks comes down to price and environmental impact; Sourcing cashew milk from non-drought suffering areas may result in a more expensive product on your grocery store shelves. But at the end of the day, it's up to you to decide whether or not a slight difference in price is worth a slight step forward towards a more sustainable food future.