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Orange juice

Processed orange juice bad for the environment

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 by: M. T. Whitney
Tags: orange juice, processed foods, health news

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(NewsTarget) That carton of 100-percent Florida orange juice from the store may have made a large impact on the environment before it reached your grocery cart.

To make processed orange juice, it requires "958 litres (253 gallons) of water for irrigation and 2 litres (half a gallon) of tractor fuel," according to Lucy Siegle of The Guardian newspaper.

In comparison, fresh-squeezed orange juice offers a much smaller environmental footprint. If you live in an area with orange groves, the impact shrinks further as you can purchase locally instead of oranges that are trucked in.

And, if you compost your orange leftovers, the impact is minimal at best because you are putting nutrients back into the soil.

In the world orange juice market, the leading brand is Tropicana, owned by PepsiCo since 1998. Consumer health advocate Mike Adams calls PepsiCo "a company that I believe is far more interested in profits than consumer health, environmental protection or sustainable agricultural practices."

Adams is the author of the book Grocery Warning, a book about which foods are unsafe or less nutritious for the body compared to other alternatives.

"Processed, pasteurized orange juice is in my opinion a poor substitute for fresh orange juice, squeezed at home from whole oranges. Pasteurization destroys many health-enhancing phytonutrients, including many of the anti-cancer nutrients found in oranges. It also alters the molecular structure of orange juice, creating higher acidity during digestion. And that's not to mention the enormous natural resources used to process, concentrate, transport and reconstitute processed orange juice," he said.

The use of pesticides also should be of concern for the core product: production of oranges uses more pesticides than any other fruit or vegetable, Siegle wrote in The Guardian.

The residue stays on oranges, too: According to a study by the Environmental Working Group of more than 40 types of fruits and vegetables, the organization found that 83 percent of their samples had pesticide residue on them.

Your best bet is to look for certified organic oranges to avoid pesticide residue, says the website eartheasy.com (http://www.eartheasy.com).

According to a 2003 report in the Journal of Agriculture and Applied Economics, "the United States is the largest processed orange-consuming country in the world." Canada and the European Union are the other main purchasers of processed orange juice.

Brazil, a major producer of oranges, mainly exports its orange crop as Brazilians often squeeze their own juice at home.

To search for local, organic growers of oranges, try the website http://www.localharvest.org/.

Resources you need to know

• Environmental Working Group (http://www.ewg.org)

• More on pesticides (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesticides)

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