Have you ever wondered why the “100% natural” juice available in your grocery store always tastes the same? Each brand has their own flavor profile, distinct from every other brand, but from glass to glass and year to year, the taste and color are worryingly identical. There is one thing we can all agree on, though. Freshly squeezed juice (squeezed from a fresh fruit, of course) is the best juice.
Freshly squeezed juice offers a panoply of varied flavors. Since no two pieces of fruit are the same, you’ll notice differing levels of acidity, which gives the juice it’s bright, tart notes. You’ll also notice different levels of sugar content which brings juice it’s sweetness. Every glass is unique. Every drop is delicious.
The difference stems from the fact that “100% juice” does not have to be 100% fresh when it hits the shelves of your local market. When the oranges are squeezed at the processing plant, the juice is transferred to giant holding tanks, where the oxygen is removed to keep the liquid from spoiling as it’s stored for up to a year. Yep, you read that right- one whole year.
This process has the side effect of removing the flavor from the juice, along with the oxygen. Juice manufacturers team up with fragrance and flavor companies (the same ones that formulate perfumes for big brands like Dior) to create “juice packs”. These juice packs reintroduce orange flavor to the juice. Incredibly, they aren’t required to disclose these booster packs as an ingredient on the packaging, since they are derived from natural citrus compounds. That’s a lot of unnatural in a “100% natural juice”, don’t you think?
If the carton of “all natural” juice is suddenly looking less natural to you, you’re not alone. Don’t be discouraged. It serves as a reminder to look past marketing phrasing like “all natural” to learn about how our food is processed.
If you want the real thing, start juicing at home! Steer your cart past the orange juice display and pick up some fresh citrus for freshly squeezed juice. That way, you know exactly what you are putting into it — sweet juice directly from Mother Nature herself. The extra effort of juicing yourself is worth it (pinky promise).