When 100% orange juice isn’t: Pepsi, Coke, and agribusiness turn fruit into chemical concoctions

August 1, 2011 by Joshua
in Awareness, Blog, Fitness, Nature

Today is another pause in my series on exercises on communications skills, based on some posts I read on orange juice and how agribusiness processes it.

Do you love orange juice? How could it not be just squeezed fruit juice?

I love fresh squeezed juice. Fresh squeezed orange juice is one of my favorite things on earth. Growing up we got it from concentrate, I guess because we couldn’t afford not-from-concentrate. Once on my own, I switched to not-from-concentrate. I never moved up to fresh squeezed for two reasons — it was too expensive and it would go bad before I finished it.

So I stuck with not-from-concentrate.

But wait a minute. Why didn’t the not-from-concentrate go bad? How did it differ from fresh squeezed?

It turns out the difference is that not-from-concentrate is processed. In short, to keep it from spoiling, Pepsi (which owns Tropicana), Coke (which owns Minute Maid), Florida’s Natural, and other agribusiness processors remove oxygen from their orange juice so it will store for up to a year. Removing the oxygen removes the flavor, so they add a mix of fragrances called flavor packs to give their orange juices their flavors.

Have you noticed Tropicana always tastes like Tropicana, Minute Maid always tastes like Minute Maid, but neither ever tastes like each other? Isn’t that weird for a seasonal fruit? The reason is that the flavor comes from flavor engineers, not the fruit.

The upshot is that orange juice might as well be flavored, sugared water, as far as I can tell, with some vitamin C in it. I suspect they could save more money by just putting those flavors in water.

Here are the first few posts I read. There are plenty more if you search. Many seem rooted in the book Squeezed: what you don’t know about orange juice.

These posts made other things about orange juice that puzzled me but I never thought too much about make sense. Why did only a few orange juice brands dominate their market despite the intense competition for supermarket shelf space in other areas and despite Coke and Pepsi dominating most areas for beverages? Why did packaged juices have exactly one hundred percent your daily vitamin C? It seemed a weird coincidence that twelve ounces — such a round number — would have exactly one hundred percent.

Continuing… why doesn’t orange juice taste like oranges? If you’ve had carrot juice, you may have noticed how much more it tastes like carrots than citrus juices taste like their fruits. Why doesn’t orange juice in cartons go bad? Why don’t the flavors vary in time or distance from Florida (it turns out more and more orange juice comes from Brazil)?

Most importantly: why does fresh squeezed juice taste so much better than boxed?

A number of the posts I read pointed out juicing oranges removes what fiber they have and anything else nutritional besides the sugar. You do better eating an orange. I think I’ll stop drinking agribusiness boxed juices in favor of fresh squeezed or simple fruit.

EDIT: Here’s a video on the topic including, I believe, the author of Squeezed. I like CBC Marketplace videos. I recommend them.

Read my weekly newsletter

On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

3 responses on “When 100% orange juice isn’t: Pepsi, Coke, and agribusiness turn fruit into chemical concoctions

  1. Pingback: Joshua Spodek » How to get others to improve your life

  2. Pingback: Video: Do what others fear, easy version | Joshua Spodek

  3. Pingback: Now that we see orange juice like soda, I predict olive oil to join | Joshua Spodek

Leave a Reply

Sign up for my weekly newsletter