Orange you glad I didn’t tell you what was in that glass of orange juice?


Way back during my green year, I made a few changes that had to do with juice: One was to not consume anything that had HFCS or any other modified corn derivative in it (which a lot of juices do); another was to not buy any drink that came in disposable packaging, which all juices do. So basically, I had to make my own from scratch, using whole fruits that came from within Canada and the U.S. But to be honest, I’m not much of a juice person anyway. Smoothies with yogurt, ground flax seeds and ingredients that make it more of a meal I can understand, and the occasional peach, plum or pear will satiate the rest of my sugar cravings. Every time I drink juice, though, it just tastes too sweet and I think to myself, “If I’m going to be ingesting this much sugar, I might as well be drinking wine.” (Is this the first sign of alcoholism? Oh well).

However, my lovely boyfriend — who I will call J from now on because he doesn’t want all of his Google hits bringing up posts about lemon trees and Diva Cups — is a juice fiend. He is obsessed with Allen’s apple juice, primarily, but also likes a good youngberry juice from Ceres, and will occasionally throw some Tropicana cranberry or orange juice in there for good measure. I’ve been trying to wean him off the Allen’s because it’s less than $2 for a full 1.5 liters of the stuff and that just can’t be good (not to mention the possibility of BPA lining the cans), and the Ceres comes all the way from South Africa, which leaves quite the carbon footprint. I have generally felt that Tropicana is all right, despite being owned by Pepsi, as it’s not from concentrate, it’s an American company and it tastes pretty close to the fresh-squeezed stuff.

But man, oh man, have my opinions changed.

Have you heard about this new book, Squeezed? (Note the author’s stainless steel water bottle in the pic! And she’s Canadian!) Here’s the gist of what it’s about, according to the publishers:

Alissa Hamilton explores the hidden history of orange juice. She looks at the early forces that propelled orange juice to prominence, including a surplus of oranges that plagued Florida during most of the twentieth century and the army’s need to provide vitamin C to troops overseas during World War II. She tells the stories of the FDA’s decision in the early 1960s to standardize orange juice, and the juice equivalent of the cola wars that followed between Coca-Cola (which owns Minute Maid) and Pepsi (which owns Tropicana). Of particular interest to OJ drinkers will be the revelation that most orange juice comes from Brazil, not Florida, and that even “not from concentrate” orange juice is heated, stripped of flavor, stored for up to a year, and then reflavored before it is packaged and sold. The book concludes with a thought-provoking discussion of why consumers have the right to know how their food is produced.

And you can watch an interview with Hamilton on the CBC here:

So what do you make of all this? Is OJ especially evil when it comes to chemicals and preservatives, or is the same as any other juice on the market? Are certain companies or brands better than others? And can we check for certain labels or ingredients to make sure we get the best juice, or has the industry found a way to circumnavigate all the rules and guidelines about labelling? What juice do YOU drink??

Image from this website. Also, read Lloyd Alter’s review on Treehugger here.

31 Responses to Orange you glad I didn’t tell you what was in that glass of orange juice?

  1. Adrienne says:

    Holy cow, I had no idea!
    When I drink OJ I get A&E usually (they’re a regional/midwest co. based in Iowa & they sell in Iowa, Missouri, and a bit of NE Kansas where I am.) Their site says it’s Florida oranges only.

  2. wow reading this i’m glad my boyfriend switched to making his own OJ with oranges and a juicer. it upsets me that the oranges are being shipped from god knows but seems better than buying premade OJ.

  3. molly says:

    Wow. You learn something new every day, eh? We recently started having our OJ delivered with our milk. It comes from this place and really tastes much different from Tropicana or Minute Maid, much more like fresh squeezed. I think it is still pasteurized in some way (guess I should read a bit more!) but I love drinking it; much more so than the other stuff, which I never drank much of anyway.

  4. Lloyd Alter says:

    I have been complaining about this for years. 100KM from toronto they press wonderful apple cider year round from a fruit that doesn’t have to be kept in giant tanks and freezers after being shipped from Brazil. The book (which I reviewed in TreeHugger, click on my name) does not even begin to get into the carbon footprint of the stuff. You get just as much a sugar kick in the morning and are keeping your money in Ontario, keeping apple orchards from turning into subdivisions, and supporting local farmers instead of the clearing of the Brazilian rainforest for what is almost slave labour.

    Whatever your environmental hot buttons, climate change, deforestation, energy conservation, food miles, the canadian farmer or supporting our economy instead of Florida’s, switching from OJ to cider is one of the easiest things you can do, and has a big impact.

  5. EcoYogini says:

    I read about this on the cbc the other day and was so surprised, then I was a little embarrassed that I was so surprised. How ELSE did I think OJ lasted that long?? I made Andrew listen to the podcast (as he drank the juice) and we no longer buy OJ. We drink lots of water and smoothies. Also- like Lloyd mentions; I’ve discovered some local fresh juices, ciders especially and feel MUCh better drinking those 🙂

    ps- SO cool that she’s Canadian!!

  6. Dahlia says:

    I heard Alissa Hamilton’s interview on Q (CBC) and was totally disgusted! My boyfriend and I stopped drinking ‘fresh’ OJ a long time ago though: I just couldn’t justify the food mileage… If I do buy juice it’s non-pasteurised, unfiltered apple juice that comes from somewhere in Quebec. Or Canadian-source cranberry cocktail if I think I’m getting an UTI.
    Personally, I wish there was a ‘you fill’ option for juices in stores, or that we went back to refillable glass bottles.

  7. Hellcat13 says:

    Hey! This book is on my request list at the library; should be in soon. I’ll let you know what I think of it. Cool that she’s a Canadian.

    WRT your question, I’ve actually cut juices completely, mainly for caloric reasons – now I just have a glass of water and eat a lot of fresh fruit instead. Chris still likes his glass of OJ in the morning, and I’m not particularly branded – I buy whatever’s on sale in the biggest container I can find.

  8. Dana says:

    I unfortunately learned about the oj orderal, but I still need my sugar kick in the morning from a glass after my bowl of oatmeal. So, I switched to pink grapefruit juice (even yummier). But, does she say whether the same ordeal happens with grapefruit juice?

  9. mystikos says:

    No way! I had no idea! I mean, I knew there was corn in a lot of juices but I didn’t know that 100% juice might contain chemical essences. Wonderful!

    We drink Simply Orange Not From Concentrate. But it only has a 7-10 day shelf life so maybe it isn’t as bad as some? I’ll have to look it up. Thanks for the heads up.

  10. BirdieNumNum says:

    Hullo, I came across your blog a couple of months ago (probably from a link on No Impact Man’s site) and just finished perusing the entire archives. What an entertaining and informative read, all of it! I’ve been trying consciously to live with a lighter footprint for a while now, and though I think I’m already going pretty far compared to most people in wealthy nations, you gave me many ideas. Your book is on my reading list as well. So, thanks for existing!

    As for juice, I rarely drink it anyhow, sticking to tap water and milk, much milk, and getting my fruit filling from fresh fruits. I have been wanting to make my own juices and smoothies but don’t have quite the right supplies yet, which are on the thrift store list.

  11. Lucas says:

    This concerns but does not surprise me in the slightest! Any of these multi-national conglomerates only every have the bottom line in mind; and if finding ways to circumvent truth in packaging regulations helps the profit margins than those rules will be tossed out quicker than an organic loaf of bread left open goes stale!

    I have not had soda or juice like this in years and my decision is only reinforced when I hear things such as this. It reminds me a lot of what I have heard about fast food (Burger King, McDonalds, etc…) and how the flavors and smells of the food was developed in a lab, not by the ingredients themselves.


  12. Why anyone is surprised about this is what is surprising. As if there is actually a room full of people with barrels of oranges and big squeezing muscles. In addition to all that- orange juice, void of fibre, will spike blood sugar, impacts the detox pathways of the liver (never drink your greens + with OJ), is highly allergenic for many people and can also have pro-inflamm response for those prone to inflammation.

    If we want some juice once in a while- no harm. All in moderation and best drunk diluted with a little water.

  13. Sonya says:

    Water and fresh fruit should do it for everyone. There is no earthly reason to drink juice unless you are ill or something.

    What a waste…squeezing juice from a fruit or veggie and throwing away all the nutritious fiber.


  14. Cora says:

    I gave up commercial orange juice years and years and years ago when Anita Bryant was both the spokesface for the Florida oj industry and busy slamming and denouncing the gays.

    I haven’t looked back or missed it. Now that I live in California and buy fabulous oranges all winter in the farmers market I occasionally indulge in fresh squeezed. As in made in my own kitchen and consumed within minutes of squeezing.

    After so many years my tastes find commercial oj far too sweet and completely flat tasting. And like Vanessa I prefer to reserve my caloric beverage drinking for wine and the occasional indulgence in good whiskey.

    Another heads up is restaurants occasionally served something labeled on the menu “fresh squeezed” when pouring out of a box with that on the label. How sad to have to ask if the juice is actually freshly squeezed in the kitchen or poured from a box with a label.

    If you are lucky enough to visit Spain you will all oj is freshly squeezed to order. Every little bar/coffee bar in Spain has a juice machine filled with oranges on the counter next to the espresso machine. Yeah Spain!

  15. Libby says:

    I know, **sigh**. I also heard the CBC interview. Once upon a time I was able to buy truly fresh squeezed organic oj – when I belonged to a food co-op. Unfortunately it was discontinued – I don’t know why. I HATE apple juice or any other form of juice than oj – (too sweet for my taste), but I continue w/a small glass of calcium enriched Tropicana for my AM wake-up and to take my vitamins. Maybe it’s garbage but I have been such a dedicated environmentalist since my ’70’s hippie days that I figure I deserve a break now and then. As Jackie-O said when she was diagnosed w/lymphoma, “All those push-ups . . .”

    I’ve done my best – now I’m cutting myself a little slack . . .

  16. ecogrrl says:

    ironic that you post this – i was just having a discovery myself at the local safeway, as i was about to grab for their O organic orange juice and then noticed it said all the countries the oranges in it might come from, none being the US! yet the standard OJ was all ultra-flash-pasteurized because it’s stored for so long like you mentioned. i guess it’ll mean if i want it, i have to juice it myself…sigh…

    great blog entry!!!

  17. Pheas says:

    I dropped OJ for all but a very special treat once I connected the dots about giving a diabetic a candy bar *or* OJ for low sugar. If OJ can give the sugar spike of a candy bar, why do we think that’s health food? Whole fruit is the way to go.

  18. Philippina says:

    I always mix my juice with water: half juice, half water. I like “Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice”, it tastes less syrupy then other brands. According to the label it is made from 100% Florida oranges. The best part is that my milkman brings it with the milk so I don’t even have to go out to buy it. Regretfully they don’t take the empty bottles and reuse them, as they do with the glass milk bottles, but it is recyclable.

  19. Emma says:

    Gotta get that vitamin C somehow. I’m not disagreeing with what’s being said – but I highly doubt Tropicana will be a contributor to my death someday. If it was that dangerous for our health it would have been taken off the market.

    Try mixing it with vodka. Screwdrivers kill all the bad stuff in there for sure. 100% awesome.

  20. Karen says:

    I’ll show this to my husband who is resisting eating healthier and more natural. Thanks for the link!

    I do find it interesting and it continues to support so many of the things that I believe about our food supply.

    I have been amazed by how much healthier our family is since we started eating local and almost completely organic. It’s amazing!

  21. Karen says:

    I forgot to answer the questions `what juice do you drink?’

    We drink homemade juices made from peaches, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, apples and apricots – any fruit we can buy locally. My kids didn’t like them at first, but they are adjusting.

  22. Lara S. says:

    I think you should just buy your boyfriend a juicer, and some glass containers so he can make big batches and freeze them… Once he gets used to the freshly squeezed juices, he won’t go back to the other types! If you get a good quality juicer it’ll last many years and it’ll be worth the footprint. Specially if he’s really addicted to juices.

  23. steph says:

    I learned about peanut butter this morning on meghan’s and now OJ here… I had NO idea. Now I’m sad because I really love OJ.

  24. […] a regular person striving to do what many of us are trying to do (become green) is relatable.  The post that I chose was about the production of orange juice and it really shocked me how unnatural some […]

  25. […] Courtesy and more information at  – […]

  26. Michael says:

    Wow… and to think that “pure” is all of the cover of most popular orange juice containers these days! Sadly, these misconceptions occur not only with things we put in us( aka food/drink) but also with things we put on us(personal care products: shampoo, makeup…). There are some organizations like the EWG(environmental working group) who unbiasedly rate all sorts of items for how toxic they are. I also found a cool website,Repurify,
    that only sells certified pure skincare, pure makeup, and other pure cosmetics. Check it out.

  27. António Ferreira says:

    Water, Beer and Wine.

    For fruit juice…

    … i eat the fruit.

  28. Weight Loss says:

    I truly enjoy reading through on this web site , it has got great content .

  29. william malo says:

    I’m actually allergic to industrial orange juice, but I can eat fresh oranges… that would explain why…
    I lose a little more faith in humanity every day…

  30. grow big says:

    I will right away grasp your rss feed as I can’t in finding your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.
    Do you’ve any? Kindly let me recognize so that I may just subscribe.


  31. Sadye says:

    It’s very effortless to find out any matter on web as compared to
    textbooks, as I found this piece of writing at
    this web site.

%d bloggers like this: