I am an orange freak! Every Saturday morning when I was a kid, when my mom and I would go to the grocery store, we’d walk directly to the produce and seek out the oranges. When we’d find them, we’d look for the label that says Florida. We liked Florida oranges the best because the peels are really thin. Even though they’re harder to peel, there’s more fruit and they are juicier than other oranges. Once we found the Florida oranges, we would promptly grab a bag and fill it until we couldn’t fit any more in there. Then we would shop the rest of the store. That was the beginning of my orange addiction.

You know oranges aren’t native to Florida, right? Juan Ponce de Leon brought them to Florida in the early 1500s. Rumor has it that Ponce de Leon was in search of the fountain of youth, and oranges are a part of staying young. They contain a generous amount of antioxidants, which have been proven to fight aging. I’m sure Ponce de Leon switched the saying from an apple a day to “an orange a day keeps the doctor away.”

Florida Oranges

Florida Oranges

Speaking of health, did you know people used to give oranges as wedding gifts? They were a gift to symbolize good health for the new couple. I’m sure that was a great gift back in the day, but there better be a juicer to go along with all those oranges at my wedding!

As we were driving around in Florida, there were orange trees in people’s yards, there were orange groves in the country fields, and miles and miles of orange farms owned by corporations. The orange growing business is an almost 10-billion-dollar business in Florida. You would think that Florida was the world leader in oranges, but actually, Brazil, specifically São Paulo, is the world leader. Brazil’s oranges are purely for exportation, however, whereas the Florida orange is mostly for domestic consumption.

Don’t laugh at me, but I joined an orange fruit club. Every year from November through May, I get 10-pound crates of oranges each week. From November through January I get navel oranges and February through May I get Valencia oranges. They come directly to my doorstep and I enjoy them all week long. They’re always fresh and perfectly picked. Must I say it again? I’m an orange freak!

Activities:

  1. Where do Florida oranges originally come from?
  2. Who was Ponce de León? How did he impact the history of the United States?
  3. What is your favorite fruit and why?