I'm often puzzled by the fact that people seem to think they actually need orange juice with their breakfast. Why? Is it brainwashing through the years? Why not just eat an orange? I've never been able to figure this out. I never drink orange juice, but I sure love citrus fruit. However, I know several people who must have their Tropicana in the morning.
There's a big fallacy out there though. And it's about a convenience food so convenient that people probably prefer not to think of it as a highly processed food.
It's your breakfast orange juice.
But we can't say that any more. Did you know that whole orange groves are being ripped out of the ground, and are making way for new condos and tourist attractions? That Brazil actually supplies our favourite orange juices these days? The focus in Florida is now on recreation and retirees. The beach and golf. Forget groves of golden oranges. Let's become dependent on other countries to do the work needed for our OJ.
During the early part of the twentieth century people ate fresh oranges, because the alternative, commercially made orange juice, really didn't taste too good.
But then home kitchen juicers became the rage for a short while. People were starting to drink their oranges, and they needed to because of overproduction in the orange industry.
Now we don't have to bother with home juicers. We can buy cartons of of refrigerated OJ in the supermarket. We buy them because of very good, deceptive marketing. And in fact we even think when we buy Tropicana, the most popular one, it's fresh squeezed! Even more weird . . . Many people believe Tropicana actually squeezed the juice from 18 oranges to fill that carton!
Hate to tell you, but it's just the same as any other juice on the market. It's pasteurised, strange as it may seem. And it's been monkeyed around with, just like the other juices. They put water in them, they store the juice by removing all the oxygen and taste from it, then they add a "flavor pack." to add flavor again.
No one knows what's actually in these flavor packs, because it's a deep dark secret, but they do know that ethyl butyrate is found in heavy concentrations in them. This is a flavoring ingredient found in different fruits.
The reason for this is it also gives off a fragrance of fresh oranges that North Americans love.
Far from "Fresh"
Manufacturers can also add a variety of things to the beverage and still only call it "orange juice," including orange essence, oil or pulp; various kinds of sugar (invert sugar, dry dextrose, glucose solids); a preservative; and the enzymes amylase, cellulase and pectinase. The preservative can be one of myriad chemicals, including methyl-hydroxy benzoate, benzoic acid, potassium benzoate and sulphurous acid, many of which can have side-effects like headaches and an upset stomach for people who are sensitive to them and take in a high enough quantity. The benzoate preservatives in particular are cause for caution because they can, in the presence of certain other common food chemicals, degrade into benzene, a known carcinogen.
And while Tropicana brags about it not being from concentrate, it IS pasteurized. You'll find that info in the smallest, legally possible print on the carton, well hidden. There were years of court wrangling before the company was forced to declare it.
In fact, “not from concentrate,” a.k.a pasteurized orange juice, is not more expensive than “from concentrate” because it is closer to fresh squeezed. Rather, it is because storing full strength pasteurized orange juice is more costly and elaborate than storing the space saving concentrate from which “from concentrate” is made. The technology of choice at the moment is aseptic storage, which involves stripping the juice of oxygen, a process known as “deaeration,” so it doesn’t oxidize in the million gallon tanks in which it can be kept for upwards of a year.
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.
The best knowledge that comes from it is, if you want HEALTHY squeezed OJ, you can only get it by squeezing it yourself. Sorry about that.
But if you simply peel and eat an orange, that's the best of all.