Okay folks, if you haven’t read about how store bought orange juice is made, I suggest you sit down to read this post. Now, I know this can be a hot topic, considering that up to 70% of American households have store bought orange juice in the door of their fridge as we speak, according to the Public Relations Director of the Florida Department of Citrus, Karen Mathis. This percentage was from 2011, so it may very well be higher now. I grew up with store bought orange juice and up until recently had it in our fridge too. Now, don’t worry it was always the “fresh squeezed”, “natural”, “not from concentrate” varieties. You know, the more expensive refrigerated variety that you give in and pay extra money for because you think they are better for you…WRONG. I was swept up by the advertisement appeal just like so many other people. I didn’t have my head under a rock, I obviously knew if I wanted the freshest juice possible, I should just squeeze it myself, but I had NO IDEA what manufactures were doing to make the “orange juice” that I would buy out of convenience.
When you think about orange juice, there are three big names that come to mind. Tropicana, which is owned by PepsiCo and then Minute Maid and Simply Orange, which are both owned by Coca-Cola. That alone makes me cringe when I realize that junk food companies that have monopolized and adulterated our food chain are supplying our “orange juice”. A beautiful picture has been instilled in our minds via advertisement of how orange juice is made… lush and bushy orange trees that are being kissed by the morning sun’s rays as dewy beads of water roll off the supple side of a perfectly ripe orange that is about to be picked. When in fact most commercial orange juice companies are producing and processing their orange juice in ways a consumer would never imagine, but deserves to know.
“Not from concentrate” was a phrase created by Tropicana in the 1980’s, which represented their pasteurized orange juice that was depicted by advertising as a fresher, more natural orange juice when compared to its cheaper “from concentrate” counterpart. The “not from concentrate” was higher in price not because of it’s natural freshness, but because of the cost in storing a non-concentrated juice, along with the technology it took to create an “aseptic storage” technique that would allow the manufacturer to store a million gallon tank of orange juice that would last nearly a YEAR in storage without oxidizing or becoming rancid. Doesn’t that sound tasty!? The process is called “deaeration”, which strips the juice of all is oxygen to help “preserve” it for large scale production. This process is described by Alissa Hamilton who holds a Ph.D. from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a J.D. from the University of Toronto Law School. She is author of the book “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice”, which was published by Yale University Press in 2009.
According to Alissa, “When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies (the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein) to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor. Mexicans and Brazilians have a different palate. Flavor packs fabricated for juice geared to these markets therefore highlight different chemicals, the decanals say, or terpene compounds such as valencine.” Source
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, “The formulas vary to give a brand’s trademark taste. If you’re discerning you may have noticed Minute Maid has a candy like orange flavor. That’s largely due to the flavor pack Coca-Cola has chosen for it. Some companies have even been known to request a flavor pack that mimics the taste of a popular competitor, creating a “hall of mirrors” of flavor packs. Despite the multiple interpretations of a freshly squeezed orange on the market, most flavor packs have a shared source of inspiration: a Florida Valencia orange in spring.” Source
As I was reading this statement all I could think of was McDonalds. There is no possible way that you could recreate the taste of their burgers or French fries (not that you’d want to) because they are so chemically altered! These orange juice flavors are the same; they are chemically changed and not found in nature. It would be impossible to recreate them. No matter how many oranges you juiced or combined, you’d end up with better tasting and healthy orange juice, but you couldn’t make it taste like what’s in the carton.
I use a Breville juicer when I am juicing any mixed fruits and vegetable juices. If I am just juicing some type of citrus, I use a simple hand juicer that works great! Plus, it’s super easy to clean up. Nothing beats the fresh taste of just squeezed juice, plus you can know where the fruit came from and that you are getting all the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit that hasn’t been cooked to death through pasteurization and hasn’t been deaerated to create a non-palatable “juice”.
The point I wanted to get across with this article was not to make you feel bad about the juice you are drinking, but to bring awareness to what is happening to the “food” around us! We can’t trust that companies have our best interest in mind. Support your local farmer by buying direct from them or through farmers’ markets in your area whenever possible. Heck, grow your own if you can. Ultimately, if you want fresh and healthy juice, juice it yourself, or get if from a trusted source that utilizes transparency with their food preparation practices.
This post was shared on Fat Tuesday.
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