Americans spend 5 Billion a year on juice and fruit beverages according to Mintel Market Reasearcher. The marketing machine behind this billion dollar a year business has done a great job selling us on the nutritional benefits of juice. Plus, it’s sweet and tastes good, so not much selling required for children.
Juice is yummy… it really tastes good. I’ve heard many a mother state their child just won’t drink water – yet we wouldn’t hand them a martini if they wouldn’t drink their milk or water. OK that might be a bit extreme, but you get my point.
Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit for infants younger than 6 months.
Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit for infants older than 6 months and children.
Yet – the academy continues to recommend juice as an acceptable part of children’s daily diet – albeit in limited quantities. With all of the other risks (read on) with juice – I can’t help but wonder whose interest they are protecting in continuing to support the “juicing” of America.
Type 2 diabetes has TRIPLED from 1980 to 2006. Aside from the 185 increased risk in Type 2 diabetes which seems compelling enough to eliminate juice as a staple in our family diet. There are a number of other findings that need to be shared.
Juice & Lead
Apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears and peaches (baby food included), and fruit cocktail – organic and conventional – have been tested with higher than acceptable levels of lead. Confusing to many who thought going organic would protect them, it turns out that orchards have been sprayed for over 100 years with Lead Arsenate and they only have to cease spraying for a few years to obtain organic certification. The number of years it will take years eliminate the lead from the soil and fruit remains to be seen.
Juice & Arsenic
Top brands of apple juice were recently tested in Florida, and over 25% of the samples tested were found to have concerning levels of arsenic. To be fair arsenic is a naturally occurring in our food supply. That said, the juices tested at 25-35 ppb and while the FDA has no official policy for lead in Juice, they have one for water – 10 ppb. With this information it seems fair to say that if you drinking or giving your child apple juice, there is a 25% chance you are giving them more than double the lead that the FDA deems acceptable in water. With no “official” juice policy there are no established guidelines, so products can’t be pulled or recalled for containing high amounts of lead. 25% Chance.
“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.”
Do you eat oranges? Ever notice how they all taste a little different? There are sweet juicy oranges, tart oranges, dry oranges, they are all different. Ever notice how your favorite orange juice tastes the same, day in, day out, without seasonal variation?
“Now “orange essence” and orange oil is squeezed out of the peels and reprocessed by the flavor enhancing companies. The so-called natural orange juices is flash-pasteurized, then “de-aerated” so that it won’t oxidise, stored in huge tanks, re-aerated, repasteurized, and re-enhanced with “flavor packs” to taste what they think it should have tasted like. In Brazil, they are building huge aseptic supertankers to carry the stuff around the world.”
“They’re technically made from orange-derived substances, essence and oils. Flavor companies break down the essence and oils into individual chemicals and recombine them. I spoke to many people in the industry at Firmenich, different flavorists, and at Tropicana, and what you’re getting looks nothing like the original substance. To call it natural at this point is a real stretch.”
The Juice Solution
But – We Really Love Juice! And don’t want to completely Eliminate it From Our Life!
On the lead, arsenic, and diabetes front I can’t offer a lot of help – aside from homemade smoothies using real organic fruit. Even if the fruit was contaminated – the concentrations would be lower. Until the Organic Orchards have been pesticide free for many years, clearly these toxins will be a problem.
Orange Juice Solution
If you want to avoid the “tanker juice” – look to your expiration dates to guide you – if it expires in 6 weeks – you now what you are actually buying.
Look for juice that will expire within 5-10 days – chances are it has not been through this process and you’ll be getting what you would expect from the label “freshly squeezed juice.”
Don’t be fooled by the “extra premium” lines like Naked Juice. They have extended expiration dates, are ultra pasteurized, and in the case of the naked brand – owned by Pepsi - and other very large companies known for employing these processes.
Remember Juice is a 5 Billion Dollar Annual business – don’t buy into the marketing.
Green juices made with Real Fruit and Veggies are a better choice – they help kids learn to LOVE their green!
Squeeze your own juice using organic oranges.
One Last Plea
Lastly, with all the “engineering” of flavors that is going on with juice my question is: How does real fruit even stand a chance with our taste buds? When pitted against these test tube “natural” juices. I believe the more juice we consume, the less real fruit will appeal to our taste buds. Real fruit will have a difficult time competing with engineered perfection.
When people look at me sideways when I say that I don’t give my children juice -I will do my best smile politely and try not to jump on my soap box.
Note – Dude does give the children juice. We’ve compromised on it being a weekly or bi-weekly treat vs a daily part of their diet, and of course I always buy fresh squeeze that will expire in about a week.