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Thread: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

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    Question Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    Hi Friends,

    Pardon me if this has been asked before. I've tried searching for an answer but I haven't seen it specifically in my search results.

    Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts for feeding be Organic? The reason I ask is because in my research I've found "Because of their number of harmful pests, walnuts are usually saturated in pesticides during the traditional growing process. They often receive much more chemical treatments than other nuts and seeds. Organic walnuts are produced without these chemicals and pesticides." Source: https://www.ehow.com/list_5796861_li...ganically.html

    I've also found another source here that says "In general, even conventionally grown walnuts show little pesticide residue on the shelled nut. However, pesticides used in non-organic walnut production are hazardous to farmworkers and to local ecology, so choose organic walnuts whenever possible or talk to your local walnut farmer about his/her growing practices." https://foodprint.org/real-food/waln...g%20practices.

    Does anyone feed squirrels Non-GMO walnuts and have had no issues? I'm worried the little rascals might develop health conditions if they are fed non-organic nuts. Thank you!

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    I only occasionally feed walnuts in the shell, but the ones I do feed do not say they’re organic. We do feed quite a few pecans in the shell and they are not organic either. We’ve been feeding these nuts for years to our wilds and have not seen any ramifications. Some of our wilds have been around here for years.

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    I appreciate your query...

    I had not realized that. Dang! Makes me mad to realize pure nuts might be laced with pesticides. I've stopped eating oatmeal for the glycosophate reason, but I hadn't considered walnuts.

    I have not been buying specifically organic walnuts for my squirrel friends either, but, I have had many squirrels not eating my offered walnuts lately, I have no idea if that would be the reason. They just let them lay on the ground. To my nose, they aren't rancid.

    I think I might switch to organic from this post. Thank you.

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    Quote Originally Posted by smiling View Post
    Hi Friends,

    Pardon me if this has been asked before. I've tried searching for an answer but I haven't seen it specifically in my search results.

    Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts for feeding be Organic? The reason I ask is because in my research I've found "Because of their number of harmful pests, walnuts are usually saturated in pesticides during the traditional growing process. They often receive much more chemical treatments than other nuts and seeds. Organic walnuts are produced without these chemicals and pesticides." Source: https://www.ehow.com/list_5796861_li...ganically.html

    I've also found another source here that says "In general, even conventionally grown walnuts show little pesticide residue on the shelled nut. However, pesticides used in non-organic walnut production are hazardous to farmworkers and to local ecology, so choose organic walnuts whenever possible or talk to your local walnut farmer about his/her growing practices." https://foodprint.org/real-food/waln...g%20practices.

    Does anyone feed squirrels Non-GMO walnuts and have had no issues? I'm worried the little rascals might develop health conditions if they are fed non-organic nuts. Thank you!
    Hello Smiling and welcome to TSB!

    I have a couple of comments about you Organic and GMO concerns and then I wanted to inquire as to what your particular Squirrel situation might be and the role and extent that nuts have in your Squirrels' diet.

    First of all, Organic and GMO are not the same. For a dietary component to be labeled as Organic, the USDA has these requires Crop Standards:

    1) Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop.
    2) Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials.
    3) Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used.
    4) Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available.
    5) The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited.

    If you know that the Nuts are grown to these Organic standards, it would seem that would be at least a hypothetical advantage to their use!

    GMO means Genetically Modified Organism. All Certified Organic foods are required to be non-GMO but that does not mean or even imply that GMOs are "bad" or unhealthy! In the USA, there are only a few crops that have been GMO'd. To my knowledge there are no "crop" nuts that have ever been or currently are GMO'd. ( https://www.fda.gov/media/135274/download ).

    I would like to ask you about the age of your Squirrels and whether or not they are captive or wild. A captive Squirrel, whether they are destined for eventual release or will be kept as pets; are totally dependent upon their people to provide for all of their needs and one of the very most important need is for healthy and optimal nutritional support. If your Squirrels are captive Squirrels, would you please describe their diet in detail. Nuts should never be anything more than a rare treat and there are many accounts of Squirrels that have been raised without ever tasting a nut. A captive Squirrel, once they are weaned should have the mainstay of their diet be quality Rodent Blocks such as Envig (also known as Harlan/Teklad), Mazuri Rat and Mouse Diet or Henry's Heathy Blocks (HHB; these, unlike the other 2 must NOT be free fed and the "average" Squirrel should not have more than 2-3 per day depending on waste and size of the Squirrel). Other dietary supplements can be given and must be given if using HHB. Here is a link to Henry's "Dietary Pyramid" where the most healthy foods (Blocks) are at the bottom of the pyramid and the treats are at the top (nuts!).
    Regards,
    SamtheSquirrel

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    Quote Originally Posted by SamtheSquirrel2018 View Post
    Hello Smiling and welcome to TSB!

    I have a couple of comments about you Organic and GMO concerns and then I wanted to inquire as to what your particular Squirrel situation might be and the role and extent that nuts have in your Squirrels' diet.

    First of all, Organic and GMO are not the same. For a dietary component to be labeled as Organic, the USDA has these requires Crop Standards:

    1) Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop.
    2) Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials.
    3) Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used.
    4) Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available.
    5) The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited.

    If you know that the Nuts are grown to these Organic standards, it would seem that would be at least a hypothetical advantage to their use!

    GMO means Genetically Modified Organism. All Certified Organic foods are required to be non-GMO but that does not mean or even imply that GMOs are "bad" or unhealthy! In the USA, there are only a few crops that have been GMO'd. To my knowledge there are no "crop" nuts that have ever been or currently are GMO'd. ( https://www.fda.gov/media/135274/download ).

    I would like to ask you about the age of your Squirrels and whether or not they are captive or wild. A captive Squirrel, whether they are destined for eventual release or will be kept as pets; are totally dependent upon their people to provide for all of their needs and one of the very most important need is for healthy and optimal nutritional support. If your Squirrels are captive Squirrels, would you please describe their diet in detail. Nuts should never be anything more than a rare treat and there are many accounts of Squirrels that have been raised without ever tasting a nut. A captive Squirrel, once they are weaned should have the mainstay of their diet be quality Rodent Blocks such as Envig (also known as Harlan/Teklad), Mazuri Rat and Mouse Diet or Henry's Heathy Blocks (HHB; these, unlike the other 2 must NOT be free fed and the "average" Squirrel should not have more than 2-3 per day depending on waste and size of the Squirrel). Other dietary supplements can be given and must be given if using HHB. Here is a link to Henry's "Dietary Pyramid" where the most healthy foods (Blocks) are at the bottom of the pyramid and the treats are at the top (nuts!).
    Regards,
    SamtheSquirrel
    Thank you for the info! Basically I contacted the manufacture of the Walnuts, and while they confirmed the nuts were not genetically modified, he also confirmed they are spayed with pesticides and and other chemicals during processing. This is what does not make them Organic. Evidently just because nuts are Non-GMO it does not mean they are not also sprayed with pesticides/chemicals. Organic nuts are not genetically modified or sprayed with pesticides/chemicals. The Squirrels I feed are wild by the way.

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    Quote Originally Posted by smiling View Post
    Thank you for the info! Basically I contacted the manufacture of the Walnuts, and while they confirmed the nuts were not genetically modified, he also confirmed they are spayed with pesticides and and other chemicals during processing. This is what does not make them Organic. Evidently just because nuts are Non-GMO it does not mean they are not also sprayed with pesticides/chemicals. Organic nuts are not genetically modified or sprayed with pesticides/chemicals. The Squirrels I feed are wild by the way.
    You have all this correct!

    Pecans are my favorite for the wilds when I give them treats and also for those Squirrels in my care who may also get a rare treat when I have a "weak moment." I make by own blocks for the wilds (and any Squirrels in my care) and/or give them Envigo 2014 (Harlan/Teklad) extruded blocks on a daily basis! These requires some beneficial work on the Squirrels part to eat them but is quite easy for them to do so!

    This is my preference, but I am not a fan of giving Walnuts to Squirrels because eating these requires some extreme mouth opening and if there is any malocclusion (misalignment with the incisors) at all (which on a relatively small degree is common); it is more difficult and potentially injurious to give Walnuts in their shells compared with most other nuts. Again, this is my opinion. Others may feel differently. Walnuts in their shells are potentially much more difficult to crack than pecans (to use a comparison with my favorite Squirrel Nut) due to their size, shape and degree of harness of their shell!
    Thanks for caring about your local Wild Squirrels and thanks for posting on TSB!
    Regards,
    SamtheSquirrel

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lighten-Up View Post
    I appreciate your query...

    I had not realized that. Dang! Makes me mad to realize pure nuts might be laced with pesticides. I've stopped eating oatmeal for the glycosophate reason, but I hadn't considered walnuts.

    I have not been buying specifically organic walnuts for my squirrel friends either, but, I have had many squirrels not eating my offered walnuts lately, I have no idea if that would be the reason. They just let them lay on the ground. To my nose, they aren't rancid.

    I think I might switch to organic from this post. Thank you.
    Now I would have to open those babies up to see if I could learn why the squirrels didn't want them, if the inside would show anything.
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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    In late summer to early fall, organic produced hazelnuts in the shell from Oregon, become available. Once they become available the supplies run out quickly; best to contact the grower the last week in August to get your order in early. Organic pecans are also a very good choice. There are organic pecans farms that offer them in the shell; one in Texas I read, sells directly to the consumer.

    USDA requires all nuts, save they are certified as organic grown, to be fumigated with a pesticide and fungicide. Yet, the nut worms are also consume by tree squirrels. Experts recommend storing nuts in a cool dry environment; best not to store them in your house save they are in a double bagged "zip-lock" bags. Should you buy the nuts in bulk sack; storing nuts in the shell in an enclosed airtight bin in your garage or out building, lends to retarding fungal growth.

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chirps View Post
    Now I would have to open those babies up to see if I could learn why the squirrels didn't want them, if the inside would show anything.
    Chirps, the walnuts I was giving were out of the shell English walnut halves. They were good ones that I was personally eating, and gifting them, but many wouldn't take them. I think a desperate non-fed wild did; maybe.

    So I duno? Like you, if they were in the shell, I would have opened them up too! I'm way too observant and curious to let something like that go by me......

    I do also give walnuts in the shell, but also they weren't all that popular this year if given a choice they took an in-shell pecan or filbert.

    Thanks for your comment.

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    Can they be stored in freezer 🤷
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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    I buy 40# bags of in shell pecans from an orchard in Georgia. He encloses a pamphlet of all the different varieties of pecans he sells. He states right in the pamphlet that the storage recommendation for pecans is 45 days at room temperature (<72degrees), 10 months refrigerated or 2 years frozen. I freeze nuts all the time with no mold problems. I would never store them in my garage in Florida….the humidity is ridiculous……besides the squirrels would have them gone in a matter of days!

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    Thanks Mel for bringing up the extreme humidity/heat combination issue in your region in the summer; good to know!

    We purchase smaller bulk bags of hazelnuts in the shell, that we store in our kitchen pantry in zip plastic storage bags with most of the air removed. From October last year to this week, we have not had these hazelnuts in the shell go rancid. Going with domestic organic grown, not those grown in Europe, of which I read of dissatisfied buyers who have reported that many of the nuts in the shell are stale, and organic nuts worm ridden; we have as yet to have those issues

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    The shipping cost is almost prohibitive to order large bags of hazelnuts from Oregon and have them shipped to Florida. My guys have to be happy with pecans. ☹️

    We feed out of shell pecans, almonds and walnuts daily to our wilds. It has been our observation that walnuts are the least liked….unanimously. And walnuts in the shell require a lot of work to chew into so they aren’t well liked either.

    Anyone know when hickory nut season is? I purchased them one time in the past and because they are very unusual for Florida squirrels to encounter there seemed to be an interest in them. I’d like to get some again and see what they think.

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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    Not sure this has been said but I get all my nuts now from nuts.com. I don't think they spray them I eat them and so do my kids.
    I only by almonds, Hazel in shell.
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    Default Re: Are Non-GMO Walnuts good enough for feeding? Or should all nuts be Organic?

    I forgot to mention, that when I went to order from the one organic hazelnut farm in Oregon last year, it was too late by mid Sept. to order them, as they were already sold out. I was able to locate another organic source, this one from Iowa, much closer to those that live in the eastern US than Oregon, may potentially be a good option for some that reside in the eastern region of the US.

    With this smaller variety of hazelnut, you get more nuts (in number) for your buck. For those with NR squirrels, with improved shell thickness and a closer (Ca:P) ratio than that of walnuts and pecan; just one of the smaller bush variety hazelnut in the shell daily would support maintaining a healthy incisor length; while adding the least amount of nut allotment daily to the rodent block diet.

    Hazelnuts contain very high (~60%) oil content, with high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and low levels of saturated fatty acids68. Diets containing this ratio of fatty acids can help reduce total cholesterol, and thereby reduce both blood pressure and coronary heart disease risk69,70. Additionally, hazelnuts are a source of tocopherol and phytosterol, which have been shown to have a preventative effect on heart disease and tumors. growth in some cancers71,72,73. Finally, the pressed meal of hazelnut kernels contains high levels of proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, and minerals74.
    More on the American Bush Hazelnut grown in the Midwest:

    The American Hazelnut (Corylus Americana) is native throughout Iowa and is resistant or tolerant to the major disease concern Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB). Unlike the European Hazelnut that is grown as a tree in Oregon and Washington, the American Hazelnut, native to much of the Midwest, grows as a multi-stemmed bush. More recently work has shifted to hybrid hazelnuts that contain genetic material of the American, Beaked, and European hazelnut to provide resistance to EFB while improving nut characteristics like shell thickness, percent kernel, and size.

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