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The Orange Shortage: How Will You Survive the Squeeze?

Many people know that Vitamin C is important.  If asked what the best source of it is, you’re likely to say oranges.  But what if you couldn’t get oranges anymore?  It is a very likely possibility. 

 

The orange industry is feeling the squeeze, and so are consumers.  Oranges from Florida have become a rare find. So have those grown in California and Texas.  These days you are more likely to find the oranges coming from Mexico or Brazil. 

 

In this week’s article I’ll share what is contributing to the orange shortage.  I’ll also give you a list of natural options to get your daily dose of Vitamin C. 

 

The Perfect Storm 

 

The Florida orange industry has weathered many storms, including hurricanes and deep freezes.  It has always made a comeback.  That was until about 20 years ago.   

 

There has been an insidious villain at work in the orange groves.  Along with mother nature it has turned the industry on its ear.  Back in 2003/2004, Florida’s production was nearly 300 million boxes of oranges, 70% of all citrus in the United States.  Today it is lucky to pull together 20 million.  That is a 75% reduction leading to a doubling of production costs. 

 

What is decimating the country’s orange crops?  It is a disease called citrus greening caused by a miniscule, tenacious pest.  The Asian citrus psyllid is the culprit, spreading a deadly bacterium from tree to tree. 

 

Researchers with IFAS – ,the University of Florida, explained the disease process.  “The effects of citrus greening are comparable to what happens when the human vascular system is damaged and blood flow is restricted.”  With the arteries of the trees clogged, nutrients no longer make it to the leaves and fruit.  Within 3 - 5 years, an infected tree will die. 

 

Along with the pests have been the hurricanes trying to help finish the orange trees off.  In 2004 Florida suffered four hurricanes in a short period of time.  Then Hurricane Irma trashed crops in 2017.  The most recent storm was Ian in 2022. 

 

Can there be any wonder why there’s an orange shortage? 

 

Why Oranges are Important: 

 

Oranges have long been a favorite source of Vitamin C in the American diet.  Both sweet and tangy, their flavor is refreshing and their juice thirst-quenching.  They are easy to consume as you can juice or eat the fiber-packed fruit itself.   

 

Vitamin C is most notably known as an immune system booster.  It also reduces inflammation, having a positive effect on blood pressure and pain. 

 

This water-soluble vitamin has been shown to increase the absorption of iron up to 67%.  This can reduce the risk of anemia caused by iron deficiency. 

 

Vitamin C is good for skin health.  It helps the body produce collagen, which is necessary for skin elasticity and hydration.  It also plays a role in protecting skin from UV damage. 

 

One of the determinations for recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C is age.  The average for adults is between 75 and 90 mg per day.  With 70 mg of Vitamin C in a medium sized orange, it can provide up to 78% of the daily allowance. 

 

List of 23 Fruits and Vegetables with Vitamin C 

 

Oranges may be the most popular and well-known source of dietary Vitamin C.  But they are not the only source.  I found 23 easy-to-find fresh fruits and veggies that can be good replacements: 

 

Fruit/Vegetable Serving Size Milligrams of Vitamin C 

 

  1. Blackberries, raw     ½ cup 15 

  1. Blueberries, raw     ½ cup   7 

  1. Broccoli, raw     ½ cup 39 

  1. Cabbage, raw, chopped     ½ cup 16 

  1. Cantaloupe     ½ medium 25 

  1. Cauliflower, raw     ½ cup 28 

  1. Grape     ½ cup 10 

  1. Green Peppers, raw     ½ cup 37 

  1. Guava     ½ cup                            100 

  1. Honeydew Melon, diced     ½ cup 16 

  1. Hot Green Chili Pepper, raw     1 pepper              109 

  1. Jalapeño Pepper, raw     1 pepper              109 

  1. Kale, raw     1 cup 19 

  1. Mango      ½ cup 30 

  1. Papaya     1 small 96 

  1. Peas, raw     ½ cup 29 

  1. Pineapple, chunks      ½ cup 39 

  1. Potato     ½ cup 20 

  1. Raspberries      ½ cup 16 

  1. Spinach, raw, chopped     1 cup 11 

  1. Strawberries, sliced      ½ cup 49 

  1. Sweet Red Pepper, raw      ½ cup 95 

  1. Tomato, raw     1 medium 17 

 

Did you notice that there are no other citrus fruits in this list of Vitamin C rich foods?  That’s because the citrus greening isn’t just causing an orange shortage.  It’s affecting all citruses including grapefruit, lemons, and tangerines.  No point in telling you about more fruits that are difficult to get. 

 

Will The Florida Orange Groves Recover? 

 

There is little anyone can do about hurricane seasons.  The industry can only hope that the planets align, and Florida is granted some mild seasons.   

 

Citrus greening is another story.  There are multiple treatments being researched to turn the tide of the orange shortage.  Two are showing promise for slowing the progression of the disease. 

 

Invaio’s solution suppresses bacteria that is already present in trees.  The first application that was tested increased the yield of oranges in infected trees by 30%.   The second-year application of it produced an increase of 115%. 

 

The other potential treatment comes from a wild citrus varietal from down-under.  It is the Australian Finger Lime. This plant has shown a natural tolerance to the citrus greening disease.  It comes from amino acids, also known as a peptide, in the plant that is greening-tolerant

 

This peptide has been tested for over two years.  It is introduced to infected trees through injection or spray, reducing the bacteria.  Healthy changes were seen in trees in a matter of a few months after treatment. 

 

More research and tests are needed before these options are employed commercially.  They are not cures for the disease.  However, their potential to slow the disease is giving the industry time to find a cure. 

 

What’s Next? 

 

The researchers will continue looking for cures for the citrus greening disease.  Until then, the farmers will do their best to nurture what is left of their orange groves. 

 

For the rest of us, enjoy what oranges you can find.  When you can’t get them, supplement your diet with other fruits and vegetables.  There is an abundance that are great sources of Vitamin C.   

 

As ever, we know the world will turn, and the challenges will be met.  Hopefully, Florida will recover yet again.  Then we’ll see a return of those beautiful, juicy, sunshine-filled fruits.  

 

 

 

 

References 

 

 

 

 

 

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