Colson: Simply Orange? Well, simplify this, CocaCola
Much as I hate to admit it, I too often am basically a good little consumer of American goods.
I try not to be, but end up buying all sorts of claptrap and garbage churned out by factories that once were just across town but now, thanks to the insane march of globalization, are found in foreign lands as often as not.
As a case in point, I direct the reader’s attention to a product known as Simply Orange, put out by the CocaCola/MinuteMaid corporate combine and sold by grocers throughout the land.
Mine, like so many others, is a tale woven through with threads of inattentiveness and sloth, twin evils of our modern condition from which I only recently awakened, thanks to a word from the young son of a friend of mine whose attention to detail was a little quicker than mine.
Put simply, my young friend chose not to simply believe the marketing folderol surrounding Simply Orange, and actually checked it out.
Now, I stopped believing in broad-target advertisements decades ago, with the understanding that Mad Men (ad executives of the Madison Avenue variety) are paid ridiculous amounts of money to fool me about what it is they want me to wear, eat, drink, drive, smoke and smear on my body to prevent sunburn, among other things.
We live in the premier consumer-based nation on Earth, these here United States of America, and commerce is our God of choice. The old God is still around, of course, but it’s just not the same as it was when religion was the sole option for those seeking reasons for our existence and our behavior.
These days, our need for instant gratification has stripped that old God of much of its power, and replaced it with a yearning for whatever we are told we want or need by the ads that define our existence now.
When my spousal unit first discovered Simply Orange at our local grocery store, I was happy. The stuff tasted good, and the label said it contained nothing but the juice of that noble fruit, and I believed.
Or, rather, I thought no further.
It turns out, though, that this product, like so many others we are trained and forced to buy, is not “simply” the juice, but actually is a “hyper-engineered and dauntingly industrial product,” in the words of an online article about the matter.
Simply Orange, in reality, is a much-processed beverage that is radically deconstructed from its original form, shipped from the groves of Florida and Brazil as a near-tasteless liquid and then reconstructed with some added flavor-enhancing ingredients that have nothing at all to do with nature or sunshine.
This, then, is what my young friend discovered, and I confirmed through my own Internet searches.
According to a study done more than a decade ago by the Bloomberg Businesswire news service, the juice in question is based on a complicated, computer-driven recipe contained in CocaCola’s “Black Book” of methodology.
Once the juice is mashed from the fruit, according to engineer Bob Cross, who invented this Black Book, it is stored in silos and piped underground to the packaging plant, where is it put through a process known as “flash pasteurization.” Basically, that means it is superheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or more, thereby killing off just about any bacteria still present in the juice, including any good bacteria.
It is then piped to storage tanks where it is slowly agitated, sucked clear of its oxygen content, and covered with a nitrogen gas blanket to keep out any more oxygen, since oxygen causes the juice to spoil.
It can then be stored for a year or more and, when needed, is recombined with “flavor packets” designed to bring back all of the 600 or so distinct flavors that were driven from the juice during processing.
After all that, it is bottled and shipped to the shelves of grocery stores, and into our waiting grocery baskets.
The study tells us that these flavor enhancers are, in some vague chemical way, connected to the real flavors that were stripped from the juice early on.
But what we get in our glass is as far as can be imagined from being the fresh juice of a freshly-picked orange.
So, once again, we are misled into thinking we are buying something wholesome and good, but in reality are just buying another big lie.
Which is why we no longer buy Simply Orange, preferring to spend considerably more of our hard-earned cash on a product in which we have greater faith, an organic juice made by “Uncle Matt” in Cleremont, Fla.
And that, I have to say, was my lesson for May.
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