Juice from an orange vs. juice from a carton


This was supposed to be a quick reflection on the taste of orange juice after I rediscovered what it’s like to drink juice that I’ve personally reamed from oranges.

But then, I went exploring and found a huge world of complicated things about oranges and orange juice. It’s symbolic of much of the food we eat and take for granted.

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After all that reading, I feel a little guilty about drinking orange juice, though not enough to stop. All those forests razed to grow oranges. The chemicals used to fend off insects. The huge amount of energy involved in processing oranges and turning them into juice. The fact that the large-scale juice brands such as Tropicana and Simply Orange go through a lot of potion-making to provide “fresh” and “natural” juice year-round when the orange harvesting season is limited to a few months. That orange juice in a carton is indeed all orange, as claimed, but its components have been deconstructed and then remixed so that there’s a consistent taste and a long shelf life.

My journey of orange guilt started when we had a bag of spare oranges in the house. I juiced them with an electric reamer. The resulting juice was delicious — tangy, sweet, fresh, orangy. I then drank some Tropicana, which is a brand I’ve liked, and accepted as “real” orange juice that’s darn close to freshly squeezed. But after drinking the juice I reamed, the Tropicana tasted like a poor imitation, a watered-down concoction that is only an approximation. My tastebuds have been spoiled and I’m dangerously close to becoming an orange juice snob. But I'm not quite ready to completely abandon Tropicana. It takes a chunk of time and many oranges to come up with a glass of juice, versus going to the fridge, grabbing a carton and pouring. 

Bloomberg Business: Coke engineers its orange juice — with an algorithm. “That cold glass of 100 per cent liquid sunshine on the breakfast table is the product of a sophisticated industrial juice complex.”

The book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice raised awareness about how industrial-scale orange juice is made. The New Yorker interviewed the author, Alissa Hamilton, when the book was published in 2009.

Slate.com: Carton vs. Canister. Is frozen orange juice concentrate better for the environment? The argument here is that while frozen concentrated juice takes up less room and as a result costs less to transport, a lot of energy is needed to concentrate the juice.

The Sweethome: The best citrus juicer

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