As a registered dietitian and mom, my passion is telling the story of food and how it gets to our kitchen tables. I believe in passing that story on to you and your family too. Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in a Grove to Glass Tour in sunny Florida, to learn more about 100% orange juice on behalf of Tropicana with a group of registered dietitians. It’s time to follow that food!
It all starts in Florida, where 80% of our orange juice originates from, where the weather is warm and sunny and perfect for growing oranges. Orange trees grow in groves across the state of Florida and each tree has a lifespan of about 25 years, that means farmers are constantly replacing trees to keep their orange groves in tip-top shape prime for harvesting for years to come.
For the best tasting 100% orange juice, a combination of Hamlin and Valencia oranges are grown because of their sugar content. When producing 100% orange juice, the juices from those two oranges are blended to make the perfect sweetness that we, as consumers, like (research validates this!).
Nine months of ripening and the oranges are ready to pick. The orange pickers, as they are called, use bags that can hold up to 90 pounds of oranges and climb ladders to pick the oranges off the trees. It really is amazing that this is all done by hand and the orange pickers have to be really good at their jobs because there are between 700-900 oranges on a tree and a typical day for one worker involves picking about 25 trees. Imagine the muscles on their arms!
After about 8 hours of picking, those oranges are brought to the juicing and bottling facility where once unloaded off the truck, they are juiced and bottled within about an hour’s time. What that really means is the nutrients are captured at their peak and put into the bottle! To get a better glimpse of how that all happens, here was my ride:
Taking the tram around the Tropicana facility, there was a scent in the air so sweet, it could only be citrus. You know how our kitchens smell when someone starts to peel an orange – well take that times a million and you have a refreshing aroma that fills the air all around outside the facility. To start that process of juicing the oranges, the first thing that happens after the oranges are unloaded? Washing with water. A simple procedure, just as we would do at home.
It really is something to see the technology that has been invented to bottle orange juice. Everything is automated requiring very little human interaction other than monitoring the processes. There is minimal waste as all parts of the orange are used after it is juiced. Once the oranges are washed, they are pricked to release the orange oil out of the peel (a valuable oil sold to cleaning companies). Oranges are then automatically sorted by size and then squeezed just like we would do at home to release the juice, just on a larger scale.
No chemicals, no preservatives, and no added water is ever added to Tropicana 100% Orange Juice.
Here’s the cool thing: Once those oranges are picked, you can be pouring that juice into your glass within four days. Millions of gallons of orange juice flow out of this facility each day and are solely transported by train (because it’s cost-effective and better for the environment) from this facility to three regions around the United States.
- Four ounces of 100% orange juice can count as a fruit serving towards your goal of two servings of fruit per day. 60% of children ages 4-8 years old and 80% of older children and adults are not getting enough fruit each day.
- 100% orange juice is very nutrient-rich. Vitamin C, potassium and folate are all nutrients you can find in 100% orange juice. Vitamin C is important for healing in the body, potassium is necessary for healthy blood pressures and folate can help prevent birth defects in women of child-bearing age.
- 100% orange juice is the only fruit juice that provides significant amounts of a phytochemical called hesperidin which is showing potential health benefits in the body. Research continues on those benefits before any official claim can be made.
- 100% orange juice contains no added sugars. The sugar that is on the nutrition label is naturally found in the orange juice. Each 59 ounce bottle of Tropicana 100% orange juice contains 16 fresh-squeezed, Florida oranges.
- Drinking a four-ounce serving of 100% orange juice does not cause you to consume less whole fruit, in fact the opposite is true. People that drink the proper portion size of orange juice, tend to consume more whole fruit and fiber during the day.
Check out my homemade juice box below! A fresh orange off the tree was a delight to drink from.
My friends at Tropicana are sponsoring a giveaway! All you need to do is share this post via social media (comment with your Twitter or Facebook handle) or ask a question about 100% orange juice and you will be entered to win a Tropicana water tumbler and a coupon for a free 59 ounce bottle of Tropicana Orange Juice! 5 winners will randomly be selected.
Disclosure: Tropicana provided me with the opportunity to learn more about their product, however I was not compensated for my time or this blog post. Opinions are my own.
For recipe ideas: www.floridajuice.com