The juicy details
- May 25, 2009 11:08 AM |
- By Elizabeth Bridge
By Elizabeth Bridge, CBC Digital Archives
That morning glass of sunshine doesn't look so bright anymore. I've never had the illusion that the frozen concentrated orange juice in my freezer could ever approach the taste of freshly squeezed, but reading about a new book has really opened my eyes about OJ.
Alissa Hamilton is a food policy analyst and author of Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice. The book, which comes out May 26, describes in detail how the makers of shelf-stable, pasteurized and frozen concentrated orange juice process and market their product. The result is so far from a glass of fresh OJ that it hardly seems to deserve the name. Hamilton herself told the Toronto Star she prefers to eat a whole orange to drinking juice. According to a May 19 write-up in Maclean's, a spokesperson from Tropicana "dismisses the book as an 'outdated view of the industry' that doesn’t look beyond 2004."
Fresh from the tree: the best way to enjoy a glass of orange juice.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)
According to the book Better Than Homemade, a history of many brands of processed foods, frozen concentrated orange juice dates to the 1940s. U.S. government scientists developed it as a step in the production of orange juice crystals for the military, but with war's end the crystals proved unmarketable to consumers. Bing Crosby signed as a Minute Maid pitchman in 1949, and it proved so popular that it has become a year-round breakfast staple.
I've already been cutting back on orange juice for a couple of reasons. The price went up a couple of years ago when cold snaps and hurricanes caused orange shortages in Florida and California. Plus, I prefer my child to eat real fruit, rather than filling up on juice, and if she sees us drinking it she wants some too. So we drink it less to lessen her demands for it.
To boot, a comparison last year in Slate magazine's Green Lantern column brought home the reality that no matter the format, including fresh-squeezed, that juice uses a lot of energy and travels a long way from Florida or California before it reaches your glass.
Hamilton says Valencias – the best oranges for juice – are in season until the end of June. If I'm keen for a glass of sunshine, I think I'll bust out the old citrus juicer for a taste of the original.
(Update, May 27: Karen Mathis of the Florida Citrus Growers has contacted Food Bytes with more information about orange juice. Visit OrangeJuiceFacts.com for the industry's position.)
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