In principal, I am not a huge fan of the giant food manufacturing companies. In the interest of full disclosure, I have worked– mostly with a degree of professional satisfaction– for many years in the business of marketing processed food and creating advertising for the foodservice divisions of such companies.
I was around for the birth of “Seasoned Fries,” which are French fries coated in potato starch or spicy breading so that when they are fried, they are extra crunchy, flavorful and even more irresistible. I wrote ads extolling the virtues of the “two fry menu,” plate coverage and added value.
However, that didn’t stop me finding perverse glee reading Eric Schlosser’s, “Fast Food Nation,” which is billed as, “The dark side of the all-American meal.” And I am anxious to read, “Sugar, Salt Fat,” Michael Moss’ 400+ page disclosure about how the world’s huge processed food companies—including Coca Cola—formulate foods that addict us to just the things that aren’t good for us. I like to think that I’m capable of working earnestly on behalf of big food companies while gobbling up criticism of them because I am so open-minded. Not unlike being a loyal American during the Vietnam era while demonstrating against the war.
But an encouraging story came to my attention via an email from the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). It reported an article in the Detroit News that said Coca Cola, maker of Minute Maid and Simply Fresh juice brands, would be purchasing and planting 25,000 acres of orange groves consisting of 5 million trees in Central Florida at a cost of over $2 billion. This will reverse a trend toward land for citrus production in Florida being used for development. The new groves and the juice production will generate over 4100 jobs in the state. And think of all the oxygen those trees will generate for the atmosphere! The Florida Citrus Commission has been working on a study on Coca Cola’s investment.
According to the Associated Press article by Tamara Lush that appeared in the Detroit News, a preliminary draft indicates that, “Over a period of 25 years the expansion will add more than $10.5 billion — or $422 million per year — to Florida’s economy.” According to Coca Cola, the company purchases a third of all of Florida’s oranges.
Coca Cola is dancing and their stock has shot up to a record high. They deserve it! All of this looks great for everyone involved. Florida agriculture, commerce, jobs, even (to a small degree) the environment. Here’s a food industry giant that is using its economic muscle to grow the Florida citrus industry as well as American jobs. As far as a win-win-win situation goes, it’s the real thing.
Now I can sip my Coke Zero with pride.