It’s easy to be smug about what you feed your kids – especially for me. I cook from scratch, I don’t buy processed foods and there isn’t any pop in our house. I can without a doubt give the evil eye to the woman who filled up her one-year old’s bottle with iced tea straight from the can.
Or can I?
I’ve been reading up on juice and it’s scaring me. My kids drink juice, no not organic fresh squeezed juice but Tropicana "not from concentrate juice with added calcium and Vitamin D". Unfortunately, we are not a house of milk drinkers (possibly thanks to mommy’s lactose intolerance). And so our choices tend to be water (yey!) or orange juice (less enthusiastic but still a yey?).
I know that a lot of juice is bad, I know that it is empty calories and it takes the place of real food and that it always better to eat fruit than drink the juice. I know all these things, I wrote a book on feeding a family. And it’s not like I am giving my kids SunnyD or any of these horrible drinks. I have even phased out apple juice which I think is overpoweringly sweet and devoid of any nutrients, unless they add it back in.
I had come to a compromise with Tropicana, when I read the ingredients it says oranges and calcium and Vitamin D. I trusted that it was a good choice. Then I came across Squeezed, a book by Alissa Hamilton, which prompted me to ask myself: Why does orange juice last so long? It was a bit of an AH HA moment. Of course a fresh squeezed juice should not last months and months, it doesn’t make sense.
And now I know why. According to Hamilton, the producers strip the oxygen off of the juice so it can be held in million aseptic tubs for long stretches of time. Then they add flavour packets made up of ethyl butyrate which are created by the makers of perfume. These flavour packets are derived from orange oil and give orange juice the orangey flavour. From looking at a jug of orange juice you would never know it went through so much manipulation.
All this doesn’t make orange juice bad for you. But it does make it a heavily processed drink and it moves orange juice pretty far away from it’s first appearance as an orange. That, plus the body of research that says that when fructose, the sugar from fruit, it is not paired with the fruit’s fibre it acts as an insulin charge and not much else. Well, fruit juice is not looking so good anymore. In fact, it is starting to look a lot like it’s evil relation: pop.
Does this mean that I will outlaw orange juice? No, I’m going to file it under things I’m mildly anxious over but willing to live with. But it does mean that the bottomless tap will now be turned off.
For a list of sensible nutrition guidelines check here.
Want to know my anxiety level on cereals? Check here.