We all love pine nuts. Why wouldn’t we? They’re a delicious snack and they make a great addition to several dishes. We especially like buying them at a cheap price, but it turns out that our love of consuming the lower-cost version of the scrumptious little seeds is slowly destroying our planet.
Earlier this week, the New York Times revealed that the global demand for well-priced pine nuts from Eastern Russia (the key source for well-priced pine nuts in North America) is so huge that it’s causing unsustainable harvests of Korean pine trees, which could lead to an environmental collapse.
The Korean pine trees that produce the nuts are located in Eastern Russia’s temperate rainforest, which is home to animals as tiny as chipmunks and as large as black bears (as well as 25 per cent of the country’s endangered vertebrates) that depend on fallen nuts and cones to survive. Although it’s legal, pickers are clearing the forest floor of every single cone they can sell, and it’s putting the future of these species at risk.
Experts say that if we insist on consuming pine nuts, we have to take into consideration what’s best for our planet’s wildlife. So how can we do that, as pine-nut consumers? Scientists recommend we spend a little more and buy the ones grown in the southwestern United States (which currently only supply about 20 per cent of the North American market). Just think of the poor animals in Russia.
If you aren’t willing to pay more for your pine nuts, it may be time to switch to almonds or walnuts.