Organic boxes may contain organic vegetable, organic fruit or both. But what’s the point of having a couple of organic oranges delivered when you can buy a carton of organic orange juice at the shops containing the juice of a dozen or so organic fruit?
Well, we discovered that drinking fruit juice is not at all the same as eating whole fruit, and that so called fresh ‘not from concentrate’ fruit juice is not what it seems.
First, the worst thing about industrial ‘fresh’ Orange Juice:
That’s right, they are adding back flavour and smell to stored orange juice and they don’t even have to mention anything about it on the label. This is because the things they add back are ‘derived’ from natural oranges. This can’t be right, can it? And don’t even get me started on what they do to apple juice to stop it turning brown.
But it gets worse. Just read what that innocent looking orange juice can do to your health:
And now, the health implications of even the best type of bought orange juice:
In April 2008 a study in the journal Diabetes Care, looked at the diets of 70,000 women as part of the ongoing Nurse’s Health Study, and found that unlike daily consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, which was associated with an 18 per cent reduction in the risk of diabetes, consumption of fruit juice even in small daily amounts, was associated with an overall 18 per cent increased risk of the disease.
Juice, unlike the whole fruit, contains all the sugars but less of the cofactors found in the whole fruit that help the body metabolise them. This association was strong and independent of other health factors and was higher for those who had a daily glass of orange juice (which raises the risk of diabetes by 24 per cent) than those who had a daily glass of cola or other sweetened soft drink (which raised it by between 6 and 15 per cent).
This was the first study of its kind and such findings are challenging to much that we think we know. For instance orange juice is almost universally hailed as a healthy drink because of its useful levels of antioxidants, but few realise that it contains the same amount of sugar as a glass of cola. If your diet is already high in sugar – like most of those in the Western world, orange juice may simply add to that burden without conferring any real benefit.
So is organic orange juice a better option? The answer is yes – and no. Growing organic oranges does not involve the use of pesticides and fertilisers and therefore it may have a lower carbon footprint and lower impact on the environment. However if it comes in a carton or bottle it will have gone through the same industrial process as non-organic juice and is therefore still less nutritious than eating an actual orange or squeezing juice from an organic orange for yourself.
Organic standards of course do not legislate for how the workers are treated. Your organic fruit juice may well still have been picked by an exploited child who should have been in school.
If you absolutely need orange juice, then squeezing it fresh at home from an organic fruit may be your healthiest and most environmentally friendly option.
So we should all be buying those expensive juicers and making our own OJ then? Well no, not really. Although freshly squeezed juice is lovely, and better than the processed stuff, juice really isn’t all that good for you in many ways. Juicing allows you to consume far more than you ever would if you were eating whole fruit. When was the last time you sat down & ate 5 or 6 oranges at a sitting? That’s an awful lot of fructose (fruit sugar) for the body to cope with, before we even think about what the acid might be doing to your teeth.
Ironically you might be better with old fashioned home-made lemonade than ‘healthy’ juice. I’ll post my recipe for my Nana’s Home-made Still Lemonade later and I might also include her Lemon Barley Water as a bonus.
Ideally, though, eat your organic fruit as part of a meal and drink water if you want a cold drink. Keep it in a covered jug in the fridge, flavour it with a slice of lemon or lime and a sprig of mint. Serve it in pretty glass with ice and it will feel like a treat.