When is “fresh squeezed” Orange Juice not very fresh?
When the big juice companies
pasteurize, de-oil, and then strip the oxygen from their OJ before chilling it to 32°F and pumping it into million-gallon, refrigerated, epoxy resin-lined, carbon steel, aseptic storage tanks.
it often sits for as long as a year, from processing season to processing season, before being rejuvenated with the addition of specially formulated flavor packs (to ensure each brand maintains its own trademark taste), and shipped to a distribution center in Jersey City on the refrigerated box cars of the CSX “juice express
Anyway, this is not a comment about the quality of the juice or its “freshness”. Instead, it goes to illustrate the highly industrialized nature of our food supply chains.
In the 19th century, something like this would have been unheard of.
Instead, most “perishable” foods in the US such as juices, vegetables, fruits, meat, etc., would have been consumed locally and/or quickly for the most part. Therefore it is likely that demand and supply were not evenly matched and “surplus” food (a lot of it?) would have probably decayed or have been processed into jams and such that of course couldn’t recreate the “fresh” experience.
But with advances and innovations in cooling technology, the rise of refrigerated marine shipping containers, refrigerated rail cars (cited above) and refrigerated trucking containers, most developed countries and increasingly, developing countries, are able to enjoy fresh, non-seasonal foods on a year-round basis.
Purists complain that all of this cold storage and transportation and the use of chemicals diminishes taste, at a minimum, and could cause health issues too. Sure, there is truth in this. But again, many consumers probably don’t care. Those that do either eat seasonal foods and/or minimally processed, “fresher” foods that endow those supplying those, such as Whole Foods, with pricing power.
And so it goes.
A fascinating article about the cold-storage-supply-chains that have created entire (non-local) markets for different foods across the world (I excerpted from it, above) makes for an interesting read. [And tip of the hat to AndrewSullivan.com where I learnt about this article this morning.]