When shopping for any food, you may see a lot of terms that can feel overwhelming, or sometimes even meaningless if you don’t know what they really mean. This is true when shopping for nuts online as well. You may be on the hunt for organic raw cashews and see that a number of other classifications are listed. What do these mean and should they change your mind about which cashews to purchase?
Beyond the Nut has put together the following guide to food classifications, with information on how they apply to our cashews, and why they should make you feel good about our nuts.
GMO, or genetically modified organism, refers to any organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory through genetic engineering or other transgenic technology. This can apply to a plant, animal, or microorganism—even a cashew. The goal of this is to create combinations of plants, animals, bacterial, and viruses that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding. Certain GMOs can include high-risk ingredients and have unnatural effects on the body.
By focusing on locally farmed, organic raw cashews, Beyond the Nut products do not contain any GMOs.
We often see the term organic used in reference to meat and produce, but it can apply to any food. Organic simply means that the food is grown without the use of any artificial chemicals, including pesticides or chemicals meant to impact the size, shape, or taste of the cashew. Raw organic cashews are usually grown on smaller farms and maintain all their nutrients due to a lack of processing and chemical usage. Beyond the Nut cashews meet the guidelines for organic produce and are classified as raw organic cashews.
Gluten is a general name for proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale and is not naturally occurring in cashews. However, many packaged goods that you can find at the grocery store have added ingredients and preservatives, including cashews. For people with an allergy or sensitivity to gluten, even being processed on the same machine as gluten-containing products can make these cashews dangerous.
Beyond the Nut cashews are produced in specific facilities that do not process any gluten-containing products and thus the organic raw cashews can be kept away from any gluten. In fact, our cashew flour and powder is a common ingredient used in baking or other recipes that would normally contain flour, making it a safe and delicious alternative for those who can’t have the substance.
Like cashews can be used as a gluten substitute, they are also a staple in many vegan recipes. No animal by-products are used in the processing or harvesting of these cashews, qualifying them as a vegan food. Many people use cashews as the base for cream or dairy-based dishes like dips, soups, or desserts.
The basic definition of fair trade is when the people who produce the food in a developing country are paid a fair price by those in developed countries. This was developed as an alternative to more common forms of trade that often exploit workers in the countries where cashews are native. The goal is to address poverty and help countries build models for future development.
In order to qualify as fair trade, there are a number of principles that must be met and upheld by a company. These principles include:
- Direct trade, where an importer works directly with the producer of goods
- Fair prices, guaranteeing farmers a reasonable minimum price
- Acceptable conditions for all workers, including a ban on child labor or forced labor
- Respectful relationships between all parties
- Sustainable environments and protection of natural resources
- Respect for local cultures
Unfortunately, the majority of cashews worldwide are produced under conditions that do not meet these standards. Many large cashew operations use underpaid workers who are in very dangerous conditions where possible, and rely on importing and large companies for as much of the process as possible. Cashews that are not fair trade certified can have a harmful impact on the environment, people, and local economies.
Beyond the Nut is proud to offer fair trade cashews, focusing on a relationship with farmers and entrepreneurs in Benin, West Africa where our cashews are sourced. Our focus is on high-quality nuts, a sustainable operation, and empowering everyone involved in the production of our cashews. This has allowed us to be certified as fair trade and bring those benefits to you each time you order.