June 05, 2008

A Elegy for Oranges

This news story about how the British are not eating oranges because they are too hard to peel reminded me of a passage in one of my favorite E. B. White essays:
In the kitchen cabinet is a bag of oranges for morning juice. Each orange is stamped “Color Added.” The dyeing of an orange, to make it orange, is man’s most impudent gesture to date. It is really an appalling piece of effrontery, carrying the clear implication that Nature doesn’t know what she is up to. I think an orange, dyed orange, is as repulsive as a pine cone painted green. I think it is about as ugly a thing as I have ever seen, and it seems hard to believe that here, within ten miles, probably, of the trees that bore the fruit, I can’t buy an orange that somebody hasn’t smeared with paint. But I doubt that there are many who feel that way about it, because fraudulence has become a national virtue and is well thought of in many circles.
–E. B. White, “On a Florida Key”

Not to distract from White's excellent point, but I wonder if the change from eating oranges to other varieties like tangerines or satsuma oranges is caused by something other than convienece. For example, it is only in the last 5 or so years that I could commonly find (even in CA) other varietes of citrus besides the standard Navel Orange. You can buy clementines, honey tangeriense, budda's fingers, blood oranges, and so forth, all in your local market.


  1. Californians have not typically purchases oranges or other citrus in the store--they grew them in their front or back yards. That is why you never really saw the other varieties, because they weren't for sale. But you could get them from a neighbor, easily. We had lowquats, tangerines, mandarins, and navels.

    Apples were store bought, but not oranges...

  2. That's funny because I never had an orange until I came to the US, but in Uzbekistan we had mandarins....