It has taken me a while to come around to fellow Alissa Hamilton’s book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice.
I have always loved orange juice, and I have to admit that I didn’t want to read anything disparaging. I have memories as a kid of getting a very small glass of juice in the mornings. I drank more of it over the years, perhaps due to the famous “it’s not just for breakfast anymore” advertising and increased availability in convenience stores. I am proud to have largely stayed away from soft drinks and tended toward the “healthier” options.
Alissa has forced me to reconsider my decisions and to realize how much my perceptions about orange juice were influenced by advertising. That juice has traveled much further and has been manipulated much more intensely than most of us know. Flavor packets, pasteurization, million gallon tanks and reconstitution? Alissa provides a sobering description of the process in this interview that appeared in the October Acres USA magazine.
By itself, learning about this industrial process isn’t enough to get me off of the orange juice bandwagon. After all, I’m sure I consume many foods that are even more manipulated, and it isn’t as if Alissa described horribly unsanitary and unsafe conditions, like Upton Sinclair did in The Jungle.
What has kept me hooked on orange juice is the assumption that I was drinking something healthier than most other options. But the reality is getting harder for me to ignore, as a recent LA Times article “It’s time fruit juice loses its wholesome image, some experts say” makes clear. Orange juice is called “soda in disguise”. Rather than loading our kids up with a nutrient-packed drink, some experts look at orange juice as not much better than sugar water that is contributing to the obesity epidemic and getting kids hooked on sweetened drinks.
Alissa has made it clear Ã¢â‚¬“ as I really knew all along Ã¢â‚¬“ that water is the best drink for a healthy diet, and if you really like orange juice, you should juice the oranges yourself. Good advice. I just wonder what might be the next of my favorite foods to get exposed.