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The juicy details

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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 According to a May 19 write-up in Maclean's, a spokesperson from Tropicana "dismisses the book as an 'outdated view of the industry' that doesn’t look beyond 2004."

oranges.jpg
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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Comments

Daylight

How dare she question the juice. I have spent my life in pursuit of juicy juicy goodness that is known as juice. And let me tell you, there is no greater juice than juice.

Posted May 26, 2009 06:22 AM

Leona

PEI

The Maclean's article caught me by surprise.
Our family doesn't drink a lot of OJ but after reading about the reality of "fresh" juice we are giving it up altogether.

Drink water. Eat fruit.
There's just no point in drinking juice any more considering how processed it is.

Posted May 26, 2009 01:17 PM

GoogalieBear

Vancouver

I am sorely disappointed by this article. How about a little more on facts and a little less on rhetoric for those of us who haven't read the book nor the articles mentioned. I am sure you are right but I am interested in finding out why !!

Posted May 27, 2009 10:52 AM

RD

So, let me get this straight. OJ, no matter what form - including fresh squeezed - takes up a lot of energy. But fresh fruit doesn't. This sounds like more poorly researched, knee jerk, "we're switching to CF's" gonna save the planet propaganda. I suggest both the author and precious child switch to prunes. Perhaps that might clear some of the s**t out.

Posted May 31, 2009 11:14 PM

School girl

all of this is bull-s**t, next time, you might want to actually tell people what the damn book says before ripping on the product, i haven't read the book, so how do i know you aren't making it up.

Posted June 1, 2009 06:06 PM

sandyp

Florida

I work in the citrus industry and can tell you that without the sales of juice you could not afford an orange in the store. Unfortunately most Florida oranges don't end up in Florida stores. When you buy juice in store such as Tropicana it is a blend of different varieties of oranges so squeezing at home will not deliver that same flavor. The peel and other byproducts of juice are untilized in cattle feed and other products so the energy used to produce the juice also is partially producing other products. For the growers to continue to produce they need to sell their product for a certain price. Without the outlet of juice, the price for fresh would at least double. Citrus juices are healthy, affordable, convenient options for our families when eating fresh is not an option.

Posted June 2, 2009 09:27 AM

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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

About the writers

Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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