Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Benign Addiction

The holiday period is a tricky time for me, presenting too much opportunity to fall off the wagon...

My addiction started one day with a thought experiment. Until the age of about 26, I had found even fresh grapefruit juice too sour to drink. And yet, when served a half grapefruit, I always loved to spoon out every drop of the succulent citrus. Why did I have such opposite reactions to different presentations of the same food? I conducted an experiment to test the impact of expectations on taste--I closed my eyes and imagined that the juice in my glass had been spooned out of a fruit that very instant. I sipped it ever so slowly, as I would from a spoon, and the result was literally sensational.

From that day on, I had to drink grapefruit juice with every meal. The best juice, of course, flows directly from the grapefruit--freshly squeezed at time of consumption, but Who Has Time For This?

So I came to learn the intricate differences among retail brands of juice. Now, each batch of juice is unique. The color ranges from yellow to pink, the taste from tart to sugary, and the texture from thin to pulpy. I have my preferences, but also know that there is a time and place for each vintage. Sweet, pink, and pulpy juice can be breakfast all by itself, whereas thin, tart, yellow juice really hits the spot after a workout. But variety only goes so far--I wouldn't ever recommend drinking any grapefruit juice that is made from concentrate, or that smacks of the taste of rind, or that doesn't taste super fresh (older juice tingles from the onset of fermentation).

I came to frequent restaurants (like this one) that offer fresh-squeezed juice. And with one taste, I could instantly tell you if it was really squeezed that morning, or squeezed the day before, or store bought, or actually made from concentrate. And if the juice was store bought, I could easily distinguish the different retail brands--Tropicana, Just Squeezed, Odwalla, etc.

In time my preferences became so strong that the only commercial product I could stomach was Odwalla. Delightfully, each batch of Odwalla had a different color, sweetness, thickness and freshness, and I came to open certain bottles for certain meals or occasions based on the look of the juice, or the date (once you sampled a batch, every juice from that date was the same).

I know I sound crazy, but am I really any different than the wine enthusiasts you know, who relish the juices of a different grape fruit?

At the peak of my addiction, I was consuming well over half a gallon per day. If supplies ran out, cravings compelled me to immediately shop for more. When I found myself cruising for Odwalla in the 24-hour Safeway at 2AM, I knew something was wrong with me.

So I confessed the addiction to my doctor and sought her guidance. Her response: grapefruit juice is good for you--if you're going to crave something, you might as well crave grapefruit juice. (Her only caution is that grapefruit juice can dangerously accelerate absorption of certain medications.) Blessed by science, I surrendered to my whim.

But as I neared the age of 31, my supply went bust. E-Coli bacteria infected a batch of Odwalla apple juice. EPA tests at the factory turned up negative, but somehow many children became ill, one fatally so. To protect its strong brand (and, I think, to do the right thing), Odwalla responded quickly and openly to address the problem. With FDA guidance, Odwalla inserted multiple inspection points and began to pasteurize its apple juice. But alas, in their zeal to restore their good name, the folks at Odwalla decided to also pasteurize citric juices, in which the threat of e. coli infection is only theoretical.

That day, my only source of high-quality commercial juice dried up. Forced into withdrawal, I adjusted to life with only an occasional glass of the home-squeezed nectar.

Except... on lazy, rainy, holiday weeks like this one, I find myself at home with enough time, fruit, and helpful children to re-kindle and satisfy the urge.

...I think I'll go squeeze some right now. L'Chaim!

UPDATE May 9, 2006: Scientists isolate the molecule in grapefruit juice that increases absorption of drugs.


  1. Anonymous4:14 PM

    As another former Odwalla grapefruit juice junkie who discovered the pasteurized version to be a let-down I look forward to you sharing any worthwhile retail substitutes you find in the south penninsula... :)

  2. that's too bad they quit making the good stuff. if you get a really good grapefruit though, like I got some nice ones while vacationing in Florida, one will fill up a whole glass.

  3. Odwalla is still great juice...but you are right...'ain't nuthin' like freshly squeezed fruit juice.

  4. Anonymous7:28 PM

    Hello! So I came across your blog today! It's hilarious! I love you addiction to bad your supply dried up!


  5. I think you honed a perceptive ability there which many of us ignore. By the way, do you think n lions would know the difference between fresh-squeezed lambies and the ones that have been, ha ha, pasture-ized...

  6. I really enjoyed your very thorough presentation on Grapefruit Juice. I was the same way when I was little. I loved eating half a grapefruit, but could not tolerate drinking the juice. Now I am curious and willing to conduct my own experiments. Who know...maybe we can start our own snobby grapefruit tasting club? ~ Joe

  7. I really enjoy reading your blog and was wondering if I could provide your link in the my favorite blogs section of my blog.

  8. Almost wrote you off untill I noticed that aside from digging Sonny Rollins,
    Dave Eggers and Douglas Adams, you mention the work of Godel Escher Bach...sighhhh. Woodcuts aside, that book on its own and the people that have read it stand on their own. A pleasure to meet you...not to mention that Sonny Rollins rips a mean riff when he wants to...and he has wanted to more than once over the years...thank you

  9. WOW David! How do you write so well so often ?

  10. I've never liked Grapefruit juice, but I can relate a bit with what you experienced. Too many times I've found a daily routine involving one particular product thrown into shambles when somebody at corporate headquarters decided to "improve" their product. In one particular case it was a good thing.

    I had grown accustomed to Hostess cinnamon powdered donuts in their variety pack. I ate them as daily as I could manage. When they switched the cinnamon donuts with chocolate ones I went into withdrawal. Even writing the local Hostess office yielded no fruit. The suit wrote me back insisted that they had never made cinnamon donuts. I had crossed over into the Twilight Zone. In the end, though, I stopped eating donuts. Too late for my once slender waste, but at least I stopped my girth from expanding further. ;)

  11. i tried to email to you but the email was bounced - have several recommendations - bolthouse farms valencia oj.

    stop drinking that urine - Odwalla and start drinking Natalie's Orchid Island

    hey how come dc@bvp got bounced ?



  12. here (Brazil) we have a thousand different fruits and juices and everybody is addicted to coke... they just don´t know what are they doin´...

  13. Grapefruit juice has not left my house in some form of fashion in 15 years. Its form and fashion of current is in its natural state: the whole fruit. I have an OCD method of both storing, peeling and eating the fruit of which I cannot go into at this point due to time constraints.
    Know, however, that yours is not the only mind gently twistly by this lovely fruit.

  14. I love grapefruits! Readind your post, I could almost taste it!

  15. I find it funny that you were a random blog, then it perked my interest that you are co-founder of VeriSign?? Wow. I do tech support for a Canadian (fundraising) software company who utilizes VeriSign.

    However, then I read about your grapefruit escapades. I am vegetarian/vegan and know how nutritious grapefruits are. It is a fruit that was not often brought into my household as a child but I know I must add it to my regular diet.

    Since I'm also starting to eat as many organic foods as possible, I'm sure an organic piece of grapefruit will simply taste divine.

  16. I feel the same way about pickled eggs. Mmmm brine.

  17. I used to drink the unpasteurized Odwalla apple juice. And I remember the whole e.coli think pretty well.

    A good friend of mine came over one Sunday and I gave her a glass of the apple juice to try - doesn't it taste like fresh apples? She stayed home Monday with a headache and diarrhea. On Tuesday the e.coli story came out.

    I felt so bad. My stomach is like cast-iron - I didn't get sick at all. But I handed my good friend e.coli in a cup.

    - Susan in Seattle

  18. Anonymous5:59 PM

    You may want to see if Columbia Gorge makes a grapefruit juice. Whole Foods in the Bay Area carries the Columbia Gorge line which is also mostly organic.

    I don't think fruit juice is entirely benign though. It is mostly sugar water + vitamins. But 1000% better than drinking coffee or colas. The other good thing about fruit juice is that the sugar is mostly fructose which has a low glycemic index relative to glucose.

  19. Anonymous6:44 PM

    Interesting post. I love Odwalla too. Only one thing. How does one juggle being both Jewish and an atheist?

  20. Thanks for the laugh. I'm the same way about grape juice. Only I love the juice, but hate the grapes.

  21. Salutations from one atheist to another!
    I'll be a regular visitor to your excellent blog.

  22. I c u like Sonny Rollins. Well, so do I!

  23. Any way you slice it, it's all just pink and sour

  24. I too never wanted to drink 'unfruited' grapefruit juice... somehow it was just better with the fruit.

    I still feel that way, but have been quite entertained by your addiction!

  25. Wow... I was going to post a comment on how I thought you're little addiction was amususing, if a little odd. However, having read the comments, apparently it's not such a weird thing.

    On the note of grapefruit juice, I thought it was amusing that you lament at your lack of high-quality grapefruit juices. Where I come from, such juice just isn't sold in the supermarket. I've looked.

    The only thing available to us it some sickly, pink soft drink that claims to have some relation to "pink grapefruit", but to me, just tastes like last night's chicken.

    But you squeeze those grapefruits. Think of the sqeezing as your daily upper-body workout... It might just work :P

  26. Hi, David. I´m a colombian girl and my english is very bad. I cannot understand you blog, but I´m writing you, because is the first bloq that I visit after to make my own blog and yours is very... cool.
    I wish you a happy new year 2006.

  27. So I am not alone in my addiction! I got hooked by a pink grapefruit tree behind a house I once lived at in San Gabriel CA, and mix the pink nectar 50-50 with Trader Joes unfiltered apple juice and perhaps a splash of rum!

  28. Happy New Year bro. May god bless you and your family. May all your wishes come true this new year.

    Congratulations on being posted at the blogger blog of notice.

  29. Ahaha.. I happened to chance across your blog yea. And i found this post very interesting. Ahaha.. Grapefruit juice aint that bad ya know! =)

  30. WOW! What a juicy tale.
    Love this blog.

    By the way, have you ever heard of this company?

    Venture guys are knocking the doors down and Microsoft is rumored to be courting Mr. Evoy's baby.

  31. Happy new year to you, friend! God was definitely behind my stumbling upon your tale of addiction this morning, for I have long been battling an addiction to limes! I add fresh lime juice to everything from spaghetti to cottage cheese to eggs to water. Madness, I know. But it's nice to find that I'm not the only one addicted to a non-orange citrus.. :) Peace, sally b.

  32. i have never ever been witness to such a comical and yet informative article on the little things in life... that's the way to go!!

    your ardent fan forever!!

  33. Anonymous12:30 PM

    I prefer grapefruit juice, but I'm not sure I could write too many pages about it.

  34. I have never understood grapefruit juice. I actually find pomelo more palatable. And of course mandarins.

    A note of caution to citrus juice lovers: Drink and rinse with water immediately after consumption and *DO NOT* brush your teeth. Wait at least 20 minutes to let your saliva buffers kick in. This will save you a large sum in dental bills in the long run.
    -Your friendly dentist :)

  35. Beautilfly written!

    I don't know how many women have recived love letter this passionate! I found your blog from the random Blogger link and will make a best faith effort to return. Right now I'm traveling so I don't have the time for this.

  36. Niiiiiiiiiiice! This had a nice tone to it and I loved the nice family ending. Thanks for the smile!

  37. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Somehow I never thought of grapefruit juice as being something a person can become addicted to. I like your blog. I usually read blogs about self sufficiency, but yours in interesting.

  38. Anonymous4:41 PM

    My gradmother's recipe:
    tools:grapefruit knife (the right tool is just the easiest way to dismember the succulent flesh from the remaining bitter and "stuck 'til you floss" stuff.)
    canning jars (it lasts a month after opening)

    Peel grapefruit and pull apart each section.
    Take out the good stuff with knife, gently to not sqeeze out too much juice.
    Put the good stuff directly into jar until you've had enough with this activity or jar is full.

    SECRET INGREDIENT (don't tell grandma, OK?)

    5 marachino cherries added one at a time -
    the 1 cherry goes into the jar before the grapefruit nectar, and the last cherry is under the last wedge of grapefruit.

    Now close jar, gyroscope it and feel good about the harvest of your labor. Reopen immediately and enjoy or, if you want to save it for later STORE IT IN THE 'FRIDGE.

    Try it - or don't.

  39. Anonymous7:09 PM

    Have you ever tried the pink grapefruit tiro (tiros are lightly carbonated italian drinks). I dont think the grapefruit content is that high, but its a nice drink to have every now and then.

  40. Doesn't grapefruit juice give you a stomach ache? I feel like drinking all the acid can't be good for you (at least it hurt back when I would carry my half-gallon of Ocean Spray to the library to get through monster study sessions)

  41. Anonymous4:18 AM

    How the hell can you get addicted to grapefruit juice! It's just plain weird!! It's not addictive, it's not even that nice. Weirdo!

  42. I know the feeling. I'm in the marching band at my high school and we sell oranges and grapefruit as a fundraiser. I look forward to it so much to get fresh fruit from florida that's 2 days fresh off the vine. I go through half a gallon to a gallon a day while the citrus fruit in stock at my house. It's good stuff.

  43. Grapefruit juice ROCKS! It is one of the only things I liked throughout my recent pregnancy, and it's an excellent foil to greasy breakfast foods. OJ sucks, in my opinion, it's Grapefruit juice all the way.

    And I'm in the Florida's Natural camp. Although for some reason I seem to be the only person who buys it at our local Safeway, and the cartons tend to be swollen and a little old by the time I buy them.

  44. your blog title is what got me here. i mean, the title of MY very first post, way back in august was, "i just dont have time for this".

    but its your honest, freshly-squeezed posts like this one
    that have convinced me to bookmark your blog. thanks, David... keep it up (grin)

  45. As I began reading your expressed passion for grapefruit and its juicy nectar, I couldn't help but chuckle and found myself saying, "man this guy has nothing BUT TIME!" And it hit me, you need an alternate juice that is readily available. Be warned, I am not responsible if you become addicted...LOL! You may find out all about its nutritious benefits and great taste at the "url" below
    P.S. I don't mean for this to come across as spam, I appologize if it is viewed as such. It is just that I too am a juice fanatic and thought I would just pass along the info.

  46. Im a grapefruit fiend, I just started shopping organic at our whole foods store too. Im yet to distinguish or begin to relish the difference between pasteurized and squeezed. I had started squeezing in summer but like you said: WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT????????? LOLLLLLL

  47. Anonymous5:39 PM

    I just found your blog and the grapefuit posting is so funny. When I was pregnant with my son I couldn't get enough grapefruit in any form. I would dream about it and smell the fruit in the store, and even had a grapefruit candle. I ate at least two grapefruits a day in the last trimester! My people thought it was so amusing.

  48. Your comment made me really thirsty for Grapefruit juice. Wow, my mouth is literally watering thinking of that sour punch.

    Grapefruit is one of those things I always forget about until I happen to pass by it in the grocery store and my mouth starts watering like Pavlov's dogs.

    Guess I'm going shopping...

  49. hi i like the blog
    i am adicted to pistachio nuts but i just wish that you could buy them without the shells who has time to open them.
    also i was wondering about the thing about how it [the grapefruit] increases the obsorbance rate of some medications are you on any of them maybe thats what you're adicted to.
    visit my blogs at

  50. I've actually never seen Odwalla grapefruit juice anywhere. But, I am totally addicted to Columbia Gorge grapefruit juice. It's the best, evar!! It's uber-expensive though @ $3.25 for 8oz at Mothers Market.

    However, I used to walk down to the local farmers market in Irvine and buy it every Saturday morning at $4 for 32 oz: locally grown, unpasteurized, and I could taste the flavor change through the season. Unfortunately it's only available half the year.

  51. Wow!!!! I thought I was the only one with a graefruit addiction!! I am literally OBSESSED with grapefruit juice....I go berserk if I dont drink it a few times a day. I dont know why I crave it so intensely, but if I dont drink it I cant get it off my mind. Must be a mental thing lol. I just LOVE the texture of it splashing around in my mouth, and the after taste....its all so refreshing. W/e I guess im an addict.

  52. Odwalla is still great juice...but you are right...'ain't nuthin' like freshly squeezed fruit juice.