It’s a breakfast staple, but what exactly goes into a glass of OJ?
Think about it: Tropicana sells a product believed to be fresh orange juice, made from oranges and oranges alone and it isn’t from concentrate. Still, there product doesn’t quite taste like fresh orange juice, and the color is a bit suspicious. Also, it has a shelf life of over 60 days. Last I checked, when you squeeze fresh orange juice, it turns sour after two or three days, the color leans towards ‘clementine’ rather than ‘Sunny D’, and it tastes MUCH better.
Author Alissa Hamilton looked into the pulp fiction of the orange juice industry and in 2009 published a book about how the industry was developed, how it has changed, what the current practice is, and how fresh that orange juice really is.
You can find the book, Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice here from Amazon.com.
The following are excerpts from an interview with Hamilton in the Boston Globe.
“It’s a heavily processed product. It’s heavily engineered as well. In the process of pasteurizing, (orange) juice is heated and stripped of oxygen, a process called deaeration, so it doesn’t oxidize. Then it’s put in huge storage tanks where it can be kept for upwards of a year. It gets stripped of flavor-providing chemicals, which are volatile. When it’s ready for packaging, companies such as Tropicana hire flavor companies such as Firmenich to engineer flavor packs to make it taste fresh. People think not-from-concentrate is a fresher product, but it also sits in storage for quite a long time.”
“I tell people if you like it, drink it, but not because you think it’s good for you. You’d be better off with a whole orange than a glass of orange juice. It has more fiber and more vitamin C. But I’m not a dietitian. The book is not about whether you should drink orange juice and whether it’s healthy. It’s about how little consumers know about how popular and – in the case of orange juice – seemingly straightforward foods are produced and the repercussions for agriculture.”
The book tells of: the Florida lobby group which pushed orange juice into the image of the balanced breakfast; what companies do with chemicals to ‘squeeze’ these oranges as dry as possible; the misleading advertising done by companies like Tropicana (“made from fresh oranges” not “freshly squeezed oranges”) and muses about whether we really need so many sources of vitamin C.
At the price we pay for store-bought not-from-concentrate orange juice, we could afford to freshly squeeze our own at home, add a couple of other fruits in there, and balance out our breakfast with style.