I’ve written, in the past, that in the New England area of the United States we can find it a wee bit of a challenge to purchase oranges that are consistently sweet and succulent. For many, that means turning to bottled juice as an alternative.
Through the years I have encountered individuals who have made the switch from a morning cup of joe or can of cola to a commercial brand of “grove to glass” OJ with the thought that they were making a healthier decision.
But is it really a healthier alternative? Consider this…
Tropicana, which is owned by PepsiCo, Inc., advertises their Pure premium juice as “100% pure orange juice with 16 fresh-picked oranges squeezed into each 59 oz container”. Further, they say, Pure Premium contains no water, sugar or preservatives. Amazing, yes?
Taken at face value, theoretically, that would equate to approximately 2.17 oranges per cup of juice.
But hold the Florida sunshine, I have a degree in Business AND I watched Mad Men. I know that advertising agencies have a panache for juicing things up a little. So, I put their top-notch marketing to the test.
The picture above was the result of squeezing 16 “fresh” oranges into one of their 59 oz containers. I added no water, sugar or preservatives.
A skosh short.
Although implied, the ad doesn’t specifically state that the 16 fresh-picked oranges are the sole ingredient in the entire bottle of juice.
What would account for the difference?
Water? Apparently not.
Sugar? Apparently not.
Preservatives? Apparently not.
Pulp fiction? Perhaps
So just how many oranges would fill a 59 oz container?
On average one orange contains about 1/3 cup of juice. One third of one cup is equivalent to 2.66 fluid ounces.
For grins and giggles, and because I am a geek, I put the above question and given information into an equation to find the answer.
If Tricky Tropi (pictured above) is trampling on fresh-from-the-grove oranges that contain 2.66 ounces of fluid each and he wanted to impress 59 of his closest amigos by presenting each of them with 1 ounce of juice, how many oranges does Tricky Tropi have to trounce?
Answer: approximately 22 oranges
It would, on average, take 22 oranges to fill a 59 oz container.
Sixteen oranges, on average, yield 42.56 oz of juice.
Again, that begs the question, what constitutes the remaining 16.44 oz’s?
Perhaps the answer really is Pulp fiction, consider this:
According to Alissa Hamilton (see bio below), author of Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, the life of an orange is short. In order to keep the product from spoiling, the juice from these oranges are pasteurized, stored in million gallon tanks for upwards of a year and “deaerated.” Deaeration is a process where the juice is stripped of its oxygen (preventing further spoilage while stored in the tanks).
The results of these measures are a complete loss of flavor. To combat this, manufacturers employ flavor and fragrance companies to make fragrance packs which are then added to the juice to re-flavor it.
A video on the Tropicana website describes the flavor packs the following way: “We blend 100% juice with the naturals oils from the orange and the peel, similar to when you use orange zest in recipes for natural orange flavor”.
But Hamilton explains it a little differently.
“Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered”. (2)
The choice to consume commercial brand juice is yours but the next time I come across 2.17 sweet and succulent oranges, I think I will
Please leave a comment…
(1) The Orange Bird is a cartoon character mascot created in 1970 by Disney for the Florida Citrus Commission. The name Tricky Tropi is entirely made up by the creative juices of Suzanne Kasparson. 🙂
Alissa Hamilton holds a Ph.D. from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a J.D. from the University of Toronto Law School. She has been a Graham Research Fellow in International Human Rights at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She is a former 2008-2009 Food and Society Policy Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).