This winter professor, Pierre Laszlo gave an hour-long speech at the Central Library that I termed "OJ 101." Though Laszlo clearly loved the history and "American capitalism" behind orange juice, he was less enthusiastic about the liquid itself. He spoke of several cases where manufacturers had been found "cutting" their supposedly 100 percent juice, most commonly with beet sugar. He also mentioned off-handedly the several mafia-style Brazilian families that control nearly all of the juice coming from South America, which is a huge amount.
But Laszlo said his book Citrus: A History wasn't focused on the problems with orange juice. Well, Alissa Hamilton's new book, Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice is.
Americans consume more than half a billion gallons of OJ every year. But behind the cheery, sunny packaging and health claims is a dark side.
Hamilton's book is not due out until May, but in an interview with the Boston Globe, she calls 100 percent orange juice sold in grocery stores a "heavily processed product."
In the process of pasteurizing, juice is heated and stripped of oxygen,Hamilton
a process called deaeration, so it doesn't oxidize. Then it's put in
huge storage tanks where it can be kept for upwards of a year. It gets
stripped of flavor-providing chemicals, which are volatile. When it's
ready for packaging, companies such as Tropicana hire flavor companies
such as Firmenich to engineer flavor packs to make it taste fresh.
People think not-from-concentrate is a fresher product, but it also
sits in storage for quite a long time.
goes on to discuss in distributing detail many of the other processes
that "natural" orange juice goes through. She doesn't make any claims about whether all this processing makes orange juice
unhealthy, saying she's not a dietitian.
But professor Barry M. Popkin is a dietitian, and says the notion that
"fruit juice is a healthy part of our diet" is a myth. In an article
earlier this week the New York Times asked six noted food experts the biggest food myths they encounter. This was Popkin's:
Most fruit juices are just sugary beverages, providing extra calories --This
all from refined carbohydrates -- without sating appetite. And this is
true whether you drink apple or orange juice or one of the fancy new
juices like acai berry or pomegranate juice. The added calories can
contribute to weight gain and increased risk of both diabetes and heart
has definitely not been a good week for the orange juice industry. But
it's too early to know if the negative publicity will affect sales or have even as big a negative impact as Tropicana changing its logo did.