Thursday, March 12, 2009

Whats Really in That Carton of Orange Juice?

That was the caption for an article that appeared in my local paper a few weeks ago. (strangly, from a copy of the original appearing in the Boston Globe) Orange juice is a way of life for many of us who live in Florida. We either pick our own and sqeeze the juice or buy it from the store. Im sure many a busy Mom has opted for store bought juice and probably senior citizens, finding it difficult to manage the various implements for juicing, do so as well.

In the article, reporter Devra First, informs us of a book titled "Squeezed: What You Dont Know About Orange Juice by author Alissa Hamilton due out in May, Yale University Press. http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300124712
I wouldnt have thought that orange juice would be something that needed chemical assistance but it seems I was wrong. While the adjectives "natural and pure" are used in almost every ad promoting Florida orange juice, it aint necessarily so. The author relates that what we often percieve as natural florida orange juice "bears the fingerprints of chemists and is often shipped from South America".

So what else dont we know?
Its heavily engineered and heavily processed. Pasteurization is a process in which the juice is heated and stripped of oxygen so it doesnt oxidize. It also gets stripped of flavor because the flavor chemicals are volatile. It can then be stored in tanks for up to a year. When its ready to be put into packages for shipping, flavor packs are added to make it taste fresh once again. There are actually flavor companies that engineer these flavor packs from orange-derived substances, essence and oils which are broken down into individual chemicals and recombined. Who knew? Even the "not-from-concentrate" juice, while still comming from Florida, is stored for quite a long time but even that is changing. With cheap land and almost nonexistant environmental regulations Brazil has beckoned the likes of Tropicana which now ship full strength juice from there.

Now drinking this tinkered with O J may be just fine for some folks, it definatly wont kill ya but one point of the book is that people should have the right to know if it HAS been tinkered with and WHERE the oranges are really grown. This could be easily accomplished by proper labeling. (Im being nice, that should read TRUTH in LABELING) The final point of the book is that the Florida growers who are still trying to produce a pure product are struggling against these agro-behemoths who have taken their production offshore. One by one as they are forced out of business and put their land up for sale, the developers move in, bulldoze and pave over whats left of our shrinking natural resources.

1 comment:

Mary Ann Maskery said...

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