If we're thinking that California almonds are a terrible water-hog, as recent reports have said, it turns out that the thirsty nut could become carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative with some industry changes, researchers from University of California, Davis, said in two reports published recently in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

If growers make full use of shells, hulls and orchard biomass to generate electricity or feed dairy cows, almonds' footprint would be significantly lessened, the report says.

Also, because soils and woody biomass in almond orchards temporarily store carbon, the crop's greenhouse gas footprint may be brought down an additional 18 percent when we take that into account, scientists say.

"Our research shows 1 kilogram of California almonds typically results in less than 1 kilogram of CO2 emissions, a lower carbon footprint than many other nutrient and energy dense foods. These results include the use of almond co-products--orchard biomass, hulls, and shells--for renewable power generation and dairy feed," said Dr. Alissa Kendall, author of the study, in a release. 

Kendall added in the release that under certain circumstances that are feasible but not currently in place, California almonds could greatly lower their footprint.

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