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My 2.75-year old daughter wanted orange juice at lunch today, and because we’re a little too lazy and cheap to buy fresh oranges and squeeze them, we do buy “not-from-concentrate” OJ in a carton. Now I’ve heard about how evil and processed “not-from-concentrate” really is (c.f. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2009/05/ask-an-academic-orange-juice.html) but yeah, we still buy it.

So – she got the juice carton on the table and poured herself maybe 2 ounces. Then she studied the carton. There is a picture of a tall glass of orange juice, next to an orange. She said to me “Mama, somebody poured too much orange juice, and that’s too bad!” I asked if she thinks it’s for a grown-up or a kid, and she says it’s a grown-up and it’s still too much. I suggested maybe a grown-up could share their big glass of orange juice with someone else and then it wouldn’t be too much. She agreed and says they could share the orange, too. I honestly hadn’t even noticed the orange in the picture – it was just a signifier of the orange-ness of the juice to me – not a depiction of the product in the carton, or even a suggested way to serve the product (who eats oranges alongside their orange juice?). Leave it to the two-year old to see an orange as literally an orange that a person or two might want to eat.

I tried to tell her the picture of the tall glass of orange juice was probably just meant to make people think it was OK to drink a big, big glass of orange juice, so that the company could sell more OJ. I think that went over her head 😉

I can only conclude our OJ is brainwashing us. The image suggests that drinking a big tall glass is appropriate, and it suggests that juice is comparable to fresh fruit. Some fun facts below trumpet how an 8 oz. glass counts as two servings of fruit, and the potassium content is “as much as a medium banana.” Funny how children are supposed to be brainwashed by advertising, but my two-year old spotted the literal truth in the images, and I was the one more oblivious to the messages.

I often reflect on the wisdom I’ve learned from my Nana, and a few things from her are bits of wisdom passed on from her mother, the only great-grandparent of mine I ever got to know. One bit of wisdom all the way from Gammy is that it is uncouth to serve food at the table in its original labelled container. Sugar goes in a sugar bowl, milk in a milk pitcher, jam in a dish with a spoon. My Nana followed this custom to some extent, but didn’t take it as far as her mother – never bothered with the jam, and kept things more casual at breakfast and lunch. My Gammy must have learned this rule about 100 years ago, and I’ve always thought it was genteel, but terribly old-fashioned. But suddenly, I’m thinking unmarked containers could be the wave of the future in keeping advertising at bay in our intimate dining lives at home! And I’m more grateful than ever for our containers that are unmarked because they are home-made products – black raspberry jam from a friend, and peach ginger jam of ours… homemade yogurt and kefir… should I take the fresh-squeezed OJ plunge? I don’t want to be brainwashed by our OJ anymore!