The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant has been receiving rant suggestions from our many admirers. Generally we just nod politely and resist the urge to inform the fan we do not indulge in vicarious ire. We have enough bile of our own to tame.

The Rant just couldn’t resist the request from longtime Ranatic1 Lady Kicker (a handle appropriate on so many levels), though. She suggested we look into Almond Shaming, and look we did. The Rant couldn’t be more delighted. First, we get to talk about tree nuts, which always makes us giggle because we have the mentality of a ten-year old. Second, The Rant gets to enjoy headlines like this in Mother Jones, “Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters.” The Rant may hang out in a Starbucks and just yell that all day. Finally, we always enjoy a lesson in unintended consequences.

Farmers in California’s Central Valley recognized several years ago that growing cotton could not be sustained as water subsidies2 and other incentives dried up3. So they switched to almonds with a vengeance. California now produces 82% of the world’s supply. That’s a lot of tree nuts. Unfortunately, growing just one almond requires a gallon of water4, and with California suffering a massive drought, the time has come to demonize all that grow or partake of the almond. The farmers of Cali are not going to win; agriculture uses 80% of the state’s water to generate 2% of its economic output. Even The Rant can do that math.

The Rant would just like to say at least all that water produces something edible. The real scandal in this country is the subsidies provided to the ethanol industry. Ethanol in this country requires enormous amounts of corn, and corn requires enormous amounts of water. The energy used to produce ethanol creates a bigger carbon footprint than petroleum. In Brazil, biofuel production raised emissions 50% higher than for fossil fuels.

Although direct subsidies have largely ceased, the government still mandates the production of a 10% ethanol fuel blend, so the effect is the same. You get to pay $10 billion extra for gasoline as a result. The Rant produces enough hot air to power Chicago for weeks, but do we see any subsidies? Are we hailed as the next great alternative energy? Nay.

In 2013, 40% of the U.S. corn crop produced ethanol. This drives up food prices and makes staples hard to acquire and pay for, especially for the poor in other countries. We are literally starving people to increase the pace of climate change. Hmmm . . . I wonder if this has anything to do with the first presidential primary occurring in corntastic Iowa? Yes, there were all the Republican hopefuls in March, supposed champions of reducing government and its waste, lined up to sing the praises of the ethanol mandate. Except Ted Cruz. Because Ted Cruz is against everything except Ted Cruz. Ted’s campaign bus runs off a turbine attached to his ego.

So the next time an almond shamer starts to get all self-righteous with you, The Rant suggests you tell them to eliminate gasoline consumption so people can eat. They might also consider unplugging one of the 22 Apple devices they are currently charging with coal-produced electricity. And let’s not even get started on those Old Navy jeans they’re wearing, hand-stitched by a twelve-year old in Bangladesh earning 12 cents a day. Perhaps instead of exerting so much energy trying to feel superior to others, we could expend a bit more effort making the world a bit more fair for those without the luxury of having the time and means to feel superior in the first place.

  1. Can we turn this into a thing? Come on people. The Rant needs groupies with a catchy title
  2. By the way, government subsidies to farmers is not welfare. Just ask a farmer; they deserve that money, unlike you shiftless city folk
  3. Sorry, California. The joke was just sitting there for the taking, like a ripe almond
  4. A watermelon requires 168 gallons of water. An almond farmer told us that, over and over and over

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