Fill in the blank: eggs, toast, coffee or tea, and a small glass of ______. Yup, it’s orange juice, and for lots of us, it’s our favorite sunshiny wake-up call. But if you drink store-bought orange juice or cook with orange zest, we’ve got some news. Conventional oranges and “not from concentrate” commercial OJ may not be as clean as you think. Check out these surprising facts about conventional oranges:
1. Florida oranges are dyed.
We know. What? According to an article from Forbes.com on why we love colored foods, Florida farmers have been spraying conventional oranges with a coloring called “Citrus Red 2” since the 1950s. The article says that due to Florida’s climate, oranges tend to take on more chlorophyll, which turns them green. The fruit is sprayed to give it that bright orange color we’ve come to associate with fresh oranges. Problem is, The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies Citrus Red 2 as “2B carcinogenic,” meaning it’s possibly carcinogenic to humans.
2. Your oranges may not be from Florida—and that’s not good.
As many as one in three glasses of OJ contain oranges from Brazil, not The Sunshine State. You’d think that would get rid of the dye problem, but in fact, last January, the FDA halted imports of Brazilian oranges (including those used to make Minute Maid and Simply Orange) after it found out that farmers were spraying orange trees with carbendazim, a fungicide that is not approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency. Although not tested on humans, high doses of carbendazim led to stillbirths, hormone fluctuations and reduced fertility in female mice.
3. “Not from concentrate” orange juice contains flavorings.
In her book, Squeezed: What You Don’t Know about Orange Juice, author Alissa Hamilton details the process that most commercial “natural” and “not from concentrate” orange juice goes through before it hits the grocery store. Hamilton says this type of orange juice is put in aseptic storage, which strips the juice of oxygen “so it doesn’t oxidize in the million gallon tanks in which it can be kept for upwards of a year. When the juice is stripped of oxygen, it’s also stripped of flavor-producing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies…to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it fresh.” Those flavors don’t appear on the label because they’re made from orange byproducts.
4. You can still get good OJ if you know what to look for.
Try to buy organic orange juice, and get fresh-squeezed from your favorite juicery or brunch spot. If you really love your OJ, you might want to invest in a citrus juicer.
Orange you glad you read this article?
Photo by AudreyJM529