Why I Work To Make Clean Food Accessible To My Community

Chris Maykut and his daughter took fresh squeezed orange juice to her school and compared it with bottled brands for a little taste testing and nutritional experiment.

Are you formulating a hypothesis yet?

As a father of two public school kids, I have been able to witness firsthand what happens in the lunchroom of my children’s schools. As a foodie I’ve been surprised, disappointed and appalled.   This isn’t going to turn into a rant about what is served – I get the budget constraints and what the lunch staff has to work with. What shocks me is what kids bring from home and worse, the lack of knowledge and – honestly – concern for basic nutrition. Lots of Lunchables, candy, pasteurized juice and juice-like products. It’s pretty disappointing.

Fast forward to this year’s Science Fair, where I finally convinced my daughter, Raina, to engage in a nutritional science experiment.  She chose to compare three versions of orange juice in terms of (a) nutritional content and (b) blind taste preference.  She decided to examine variables between fresh organic orange juice from Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, Odwalla pasteurized 100% orange juice, and…. the incomparable “Sunny D”.

While the nutritional analysis is fairly predictable, the tasting was what really stood out to me.  We conducted a blind taste test in her 4th Grade classroom at Greenwood Elementary a couple weeks before the science fair.  We predicted there would be a fairly even preference distribution throughout her twenty-five classmates, since the three options are fairly distinct from each other as far as sweetness, freshness, and flavor.  That turned out to be a very optimistic prediction.

Survey Results
Survey Says…
Not Freshly Squeezed
Sunny D

I knew things were going to go off the rails when the first taster tried the fresh, organic orange juice from Chaco. She scrunched up her face, spat the juice in a trash can, and blurted out “what the heck is that?” Wow. Twenty-two of twenty-five students voted Sunny D (option C on the example slips pictured) as their favorite. Only one student chose the fresh juice as their favorite and only three others even chose it as second.

What was even more surprising to me was the blind tasting at the Science Fair itself. While it was good that about 95% of adults preferred fresh, still 90% of students preferred Sunny D. The really disappointing reality was revealed in speaking to the parents themselves; while they generally preferred fresh, there was massive misconception about Sunny D itself.  Many thought that it’s “mostly juice” or has “good nutritive properties” and “some wholesome ingredients”. Aargh!

We can purchase a gallon of Sunny D here in Seattle for 99 cents – I wasn’t clear I could buy water for that price.  It’s a product that has absolutely no redeeming qualities, yet their marketing has established them as a “not bad” option for parents, while their formula is much more appealing to kids than real options.

The upshot: read ingredients and dedicate yourself to feeding your family good, wholesome food.  Fresh orange juice isn’t the best thing in the world for a healthy body, but Sunny D may be one of the worst.

 

Thoughts from the Owner at Chaco Canyon Organic Cafes
Chris Maykut