Friday, March 4, 2011

Why Are Some Oranges More Orange Than Others?

The ways that the food companies trick us into buying their products are myriad. There are shameless marketing campaigns, deceiving nutritional claims and subtler ploys that tug at our innate senses.

Qualifying in the last category was my orange buying experience of the other day. Picking up a four-pound bag of organic oranges, I thought to myself, “Wow, Rob, these oranges really are a bright orange!”

I put the bag into my shopping basket but did a double take when some of the oranges looked noticeably duller in color than the ones I first saw.

I then realized that I had been hoodwinked. Red plastic mesh on one side of the bag brightened oranges close to it immeasurably. The oranges near the plain, see-through plastic part of the bag were a much fainter orange color. (Click photo above for more detail.)

"Holy organic optical brighteners, Batman!"

"Robin, my boy, life isn’t fair. But at least they didn’t use artificial colors or spray paint."


ak said...

I remember hearing that some growers of conventional oranges pick the oranges green and inject them with a dye to turn them orange. Would you know if there's any truth to that?

Chef Rob said...


I've heard that as well; I'll do some research to try to find out more.


Anonymous said...

Just drive around Florida -- most of the oranges you see are at least partly green. There are a number of methods for creating completely orange skins, including dyeing.