Tag Archives: pasteurization

The myth of orange juice

29 Nov
Orange juice

Orange juice

Have you ever enjoyed a tall, cool glass of orange juice?

Unless you juice your own oranges, then you haven’t.

I’m serious…you haven’t had a glass of orange juice. Not once. Ever. In your entire life.

What you had was a tall, cool glass of orange water.

Let me explain.

The heat is on

If you read my post on milk, particularly the section on pasteurized milk, you know that pasteurization kills most of the beneficial bacteria in milk. Americans have been brain-washed into thinking that all bacteria is bad, so the thought of beneficial bacteria is foreign to most of us.

Nearly all orange juice on the market (98%) is also pasteurized. Have you ever stopped to wonder why on earth orange juice would need to be pasteurized? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), pasteurization is needed to kill two particular pathogens: E.coli O157:H7 and salmonella. That answer begs the next question: why would there be salmonella, or even more unfathomably, E.coli O157:H7 (which is found naturally in the intestines of cows) on produce like oranges? That one is still a mystery.

According to the book Raw Milk Revolution, past history has shown that the CDC attributes food-borne illnesses to certain foods (like raw milk) even when there is zero evidence of that food being the source of the illness. And if you’ve watched the documentary film Food Inc., you realized that big agribusiness puts their foot on the collective throats of small farmers. So the cynical side of me says the politics of food regulation and big agribusiness is similarly what’s driving the requirement to pasteurize orange juice in order to either put small farmers out of business or force small farmers to fall under the control of big agribusiness.

What happens during juice pasteurization

Whatever the reason for pasteurizing juice, the fact remains that the “orange juice” you drink is not really orange juice at all. Since it is pasteurized, the vitamins in the juice are destroyed. This is why, if you read the list of ingredients in orange juice, OJ producers add back ascorbic acid to their juice: ascorbic acid is vitamin C. The natural vitamin C in the juice no longer exists so it must be added back.

Let’s continue. The juice is then evaporated by vacuum and heat to reduce into concentrate. Have you ever wondered why orange juice is almost always from concentrate? The reason for turning the juice into concentrate is nicely explained in this St. Petersburg Times article (under the section entitled ‘Concentrating on taste’): orange juice needed to be sold in a way that would extend shelf life.

But there’s more. When the juice is reconstituted with water, citric acid and other essences and oils are also added back to the juice because pasteurization not only destroys the OJ’s vitamins but also the OJ’s flavor by destroying those essences and oils (more on that in a bit). Check the ingredient list of your favorite orange juice…you may see these add-back items listed. If these add-backs are only trace ingredients (as they sometimes are because not much is needed to “refresh” the flavor of the reconstituted juice), then they don’t even need to be labeled on the ingredient list.

You may think it’s not so bad if the producers are adding back something that was taken away. After all, it seems like no net loss, right? Not exactly. The essences and oils that the manufacturers are adding back are chemically configured (read: man-made) in ways that are nothing like their natural configurations. They are chemical replacements (like ethyl butyrate) for the natural versions.

The pasteurization process also strips the oxygen from the juice to allow the juice to be stored in million-gallon tanks for up to a year (a sub-process known as deaeration). One year! No wonder aseptically stored juice, in the words of Alissa Hamilton, author of the book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice,  “must be doctored to taste like orange juice”.

The “Not From Concentrate” scam

Ready for even more? What do you think of when you think of OJ labeled “not from concentrate”, such as from the brand Florida’s Natural? If you think juice that is freshly-squeezed from the groves of Florida and packaged directly into cartons, you’re not alone. That’s what most people think, but that’s not what “not from concentrate” (NFC) means.

Yes, NFC juice bypasses the concentration (evaporation) process but the concentration process is not what ruins the juice’s nutrition and flavor. Re-read the paragraphs above. What ruins the nutrition and flavor is the pasteurization process, and NFC juice is still pasteurized. So NFC juice is just as doctored as orange juice from concentrate! NFC juice is a marketing gimmick designed to charge consumers more for essentially the same type of juice.

The bottom line

When you drink a glass of orange juice, the Times article mentions that there are “more than 300 chemicals in the juice so that [Tropicana] can re-create the same flavor every time.” This again reminds us there are many more things in your “orange juice” than what’s on the ingredient list. That’s why I said at the beginning of this post that when you drink a glass of OJ, what you’re drinking isn’t really orange juice but chemically-crafted orange liquid. So even orange juice is no longer a natural product but just as much a processed food as some of those items in the middle aisles of your supermarket.

About a decade ago, I made a trip to a small town in Florida (don’t remember the name of the town offhand) but we bought some orange juice at an orchard. It was the most amazing juice I’ve ever had and I’ve not ever tasted anything like it since. It was clearly different from the stuff in the Minute Maid cartons I was used to drinking.

To add injury to insult, out of convenience since my employer provides free orange juice to its employees, I drank bottled Mr. Pure orange juice on two separate occasions and each time, I got food poisoning. Coincidence? Possibly. But it reminds me that even pasteurized products can still cause sickness.

We used to buy orange juice faithfully every week, but about six months ago or so, we’ve stopped buying it. We’d rather eat the real thing.

Your turn

What do you think? Will you continue buying orange juice?

The whole truth about milk

15 Nov
Glass of milk

Glass of milk

As alluded to in a previous post about the government’s incorrect dietary guidelines, the government is not the best source of information regarding nutrition and health. Yet it is the most influential source of information because the government’s info is widely disseminated via education throughout the public school system as well as via press releases to the media. Since the source of the info is the government (and also perhaps Americans have become a “Cliff Notes” Nation that just wants the bottom line without reading the supporting evidence), the vast majority of people take it as gospel. I know because I was one of those people.

One such “fact” I assumed to be gospel was that whole milk was bad for you. After all, I had been taught in public school since I was in grade school that saturated fat is bad, and whole milk was loaded with saturated fat. Even low-fat milk had some saturated fat, so if I wanted the healthiest choice in milk, I needed to drink skim (now called fat-free) milk. So I did. As a young’un in grade school up until a few months ago (in my mid-life years now), I only drank skim milk.

But then I read Gary Taubes‘ book Why We Get Fat and learned that saturated fat isn’t what makes us fat and that saturated fat doesn’t have anything to do with heart disease. In fact, saturated fat in animal products actually is good for you. Makes sense since God designed the food chain this way. This revelation was a revolution for our diet…except for milk. Somehow, I was still on auto-pilot about drinking skim milk until one day I pondered, since we were enlightened about saturated fat, whether whole milk was better than skim milk.

I did some more reading about whole milk and discovered a few things.

Whole milk is healthier for you than skim milk

The fat part of milk contains fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Removing the fat obviously reduces the nutritional component of the milk.

What’s more, we already know that the more food is processed, the more adulterated it becomes. Whole grains are better than refined grains. Whole milk is better than refined (skim) milk.

There’s also the politics of skim milk. When dairy companies skim the fat off the milk in order to sell skim milk, they use that fat to make other, more profitable products like butter and cream. If all the skim milk drinkers instead chose whole milk, dairy companies would have less creamy fat to create those other dairy products. [You’d be surprised to know that politics plays more of a role than nutrition science in what foods the government allows and promotes to the American people…more on that in a future post.]

Non-homogenized milk is better than homogenized milk

I never considered non-homogenized milk before. Every container of milk I’ve ever drunk from proudly states it is homogenized, like it’s a feature.

Remember the phrase “The cream rises to the top”? That adage is based on raw milk, where the cream would rise to the top of the milk. Homogenization takes the cream from raw milk and forces it through tiny holes under high pressure to break up the fat so it no longer rises to the top. Instead, the fat globules are molecularly broken up so that it stays mixed with the rest of the milk.

If you’re wondering what’s the big deal about whether there’s cream in your milk, ask yourself whether you like having your products processed for you to remove beneficial content. The dairy industry decided that whole milk should have 3.25% fat when raw milk contains between 4-5.5% fat. So dairy companies are removing the fat, homogenizing it, and then injecting a partial amount of the fat back into the milk. As discussed previously, unadulterated food products are what God intended for us to eat/drink.

You can find non-homogenized milk in stores like Whole Foods and some smaller grocers, which sell milk like Kolona Supernatural (our favorite non-raw milk) or the more expensive Trader’s Point Creamery.

Raw milk is better than pasteurized milk

This might be the third rail of the milk debate. Pasteurized milk, like homogenized milk, is branded on every container of milk like it’s a feature. And to the common mind, pasteurization does appear to be a feature. After all, heating up milk to reduce harmful bacteria is a good thing, yes?

Actually, no. According to the surprisingly objective book Raw Milk Revolution by David Gumpert, pasteurization was useful in the early 1900s to reduce pathogens that were causing an outbreak due to unsanitary dairy conditions at that time when cows were being brought in to cities towards the end of the Second Industrial Revolution. But pasteurization is no longer necessary for hygenically-handled grass-fed cows in sanitary conditions. Claims that raw milk “is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalizations than any other foodborne disease outbreak, making it one of the world’s most dangerous food products” are based on unresearched cases that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has subjectively authored with a heavily negative bias. This bias has been extensively documented in Raw Milk Revolution, which provides another example of the political heavy-handedness of government agencies.

Pasteurizing milk destroys many of milk’s beneficial enzymes, as well as vitamins, although the CDC would argue it doesn’t. Which stance is correct? Clearly, if the CDC promotes pasteurization as a way of making milk safe via killing pathogens, then certainly pasteurization will kill both the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria. How the CDC can insist that milk is no different nutritionally after pasteurization is beyond me.

Let’s extend the pasteurization concept a little further to make it even more clear. Have you heard of ultra-pasteurization? Ultra-pasteurization is an increasingly common method of pasteurization that heats milk to a minimum 280 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 2 seconds, instead of traditional pasteurization which heats milk to a 161 degrees for a minimum of 15 seconds or 145 degress for 30 minutes. Ultra-pasteurization, therefore, kills all organisms in the milk (traditional pasteurization kills most organisms but some do survive).

With that background, consider that kefir, a probiotic product filled with enzymes, typically requires milk for production. However, kefir cannot be made with ultra-pasteurized milk because there is nothing in that kind of “ultra-dead” milk which the kefir grains can ferment. Kefir can be made with regular pasteurized milk though it is markedly not as nutritious as when it is made with raw milk. This further proves that the pasteurized milk is better than ultra-pasteurized milk, and that raw milk is better than them all. Once again, unadulterated food products are best…that’s the way God intended them.

What’s more, many people who have been lactose-intolerant claim to be able to drink raw milk without any problems. Apparently, the mechanical process of pasteurizing and homogenizing milk is what’s making people lactose-intolerant. While people think the problem is their own body, a bigger part of the problem may in fact be the way commercial milk is being produced.

Your turn

That’s our journey on the path to enlightenment about milk. Neither we nor anyone else we know who drinks raw milk has been hospitalized. What do you think? Are you ready to take the plunge into real milk…raw and whole…pure and ? If not, what’s holding you back?