Monday, February 09, 2009

"Florida's Natural" Orange Juice Factory

The heart of the Florida orange juice industry is right here in central Florida. In fact, our subdivision was built on the site of a former orange grove. Although the industry is in decline due to competition from South America, a major brand of orange juice, Florida's Natural, is produced in the town of Lake Wales, about 20 min. away from where we live. Dad & I took a ride over to check it out.

Although we were hoping for a plant tour, the Visitor Center (built in the Florida Cracker style) t houses a museum that traces the history of the industry and the company. We learned that oranges are not native to Florida but were brought here by the Spaniards. Florida's Natural is a Growers Cooperative, a conglomerate of the local packing houses. The museum displayed some of the old labels to the left in this exhibit.

Of course, there is the requisite gift shop with all kinds of orange products for sale.

Dad selected a bag of orange-flavored popcorn, I chose chocolate-covered orange coconut bars, and I picked up some orange butter cookies for Ed. Didn't feel compelled to get a T-shirt!

The juice bar was refreshing and delicious. I tried a cranberry/ruby red grapefruit juice with no hint of bitterness. We bought organic orange-mango and orange-peach juices to take home.

Afterwards, we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for doughnuts and bagels to take home. Along with the juice, we're all set for breakfasts for awhile!