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Close to three quarters of U.S. households buy orange juice. Its popularity crosses class, cultural, racial, and regional divides. Why do so many of us drink orange juice? How did it turn from a luxury into a staple in just a few years? More important, how is it that we don't know the real reasons behind OJ's popularity or understand the processes by which the juice is produced?
In this enlightening book, Alissa Hamilton explores the hidden history of orange juice. She looks at the early forces that propelled orange juice to prominence, including a surplus of oranges that plagued Florida during most of the twentieth century and the army's need to provide vitamin C to troops overseas during World War II. She tells the stories of the FDA's decision in the early 1960s to standardize orange juice, and the juice equivalent of the cola wars that followed between Coca-Cola (which owns Minute Maid) and Pepsi (which owns Tropicana). Of particular interest to OJ drinkers will be the revelation that most orange juice comes from Brazil, not Florida, and that even 'not from concentrate' orange juice is heated, stripped of flavour, stored for up to a year, and then reflavoured before it is packaged and sold.
Squeezed concludes with a thought-provoking discussion of why consumers have the right to know how their food is produced.
Alissa Hamilton is a Woodcock Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow.
"Behind the wholesome facade industry has created for orange juice is Alissa Hamilton's remarkable story of corporate power, marketing, trade and labor issues, and shrinking biodiversity. This story needs telling."
– Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D., Yale University, co-author of Food Fight: The Inside Story of The Food Industry, America's Obesity Crisis, and What We Can Do About It
"You won't believe how many ambushes have been sprung on the noble orange on its tortured way from the orchard to your gullet. In this exemplary, accessible commodity study and history of regulatory failure and industrial chicanery, Hamilton lays it all out. Would that every major element in our daily diet had so able a sleuth and historian."
– James C. Scott, Yale University
"Squeezed relentlessly shatters the pleasant perceptions of morning orange juice. A strikingly original history of the Florida orange juice industry, it is deeply researched, cogently argued, and altogether eye-opening. Hamilton reveals that most of the orange juice sold in the stores is not, as advertised, either fresh or from Florida, and she advances a spirited brief for the consumer's right to know the truth about the production of the foods they consume."
– Daniel J. Kevles, Yale University
"Full of zesty, fresh insight, concentrated scholarship, and unsweetened truths, Alissa Hamilton's Squeezed will give you a healthy mistrust not just of orange juice, but of corporate America's agenda for all our food."
– Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved
"Squeezed reveals that orange juice, with its image as a natural Florida product, bears the fingerprints of chemists and is often shipped from South America [...] If orange juice isn't harmful, it also isn't what it's portrayed to be. Consumers have a right to know what they're consuming, Hamilton says, and that is at the heart of her story."
– Devra First, Boston Globe
"Squeezed isn't mainly concerned with nutrition, commercial farming, or related political issues discussed on food blogs. Hamilton is more interested in social policy, how influential parties interacted to create the mass market for 'reconstituted' juice. ('Recon' superseded pasteurization, a more costly means of production.)"
– Ron Slate, On the Seawall