By Ruth Borger
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a great time to think about reading, or rereading, a book about Florida citrus or trying out a tasty recipe featuring our favorite fruit. Here are some suggestions that might make it onto your bedside reading table for the new year.
Oranges by John McPhee,1966, is considered a classic tale of the botany, history and industry of oranges not just in Florida but globally. A short but engaging read, this book will leave you with a renewed appreciation for the rich and diverse history of the “golden orbs” that we sometimes take for granted. Originally intended to be a magazine article, McPhee’s lyrical writing engages the reader on a somewhat romantic and nostalgic global journey of the orange over centuries and continents.
Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice by Alissa Hamilton takes a deep dive into the history of orange juice. Published in 2009, Hamilton delves into the growth of Florida’s orange juice industry, providing an unfiltered story of building a market for juice, regulations and the battles for market dominance. Written before the impact of citrus greening disease, the book puts the state of the industry today in a unique context.
Florida Oranges: A Colorful History by Erin Thursby is the newest of these offerings, published in 2019. Thursby‘s account of the Florida citrus industry includes stories of many contemporary growers and the challenges faced in most recent years, including freezes and citrus greening. Personalities are a big part of this book, and Thursby does a good job of personalizing Florida’s rich citrus industry and reminding the reader of the individuals who built it.
Any article on books about oranges would be lacking if it did not mention the many cookbooks that feature Florida citrus! A quick internet search of Florida oranges and cookbooks presents dozens of options from recent to vintage editions. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension bookstore sells Simply Florida: A Taste of Flavors from the Sunshine State that features delicious citrus recipes along with many other selections that highlight Florida commodities.
The University Press of Florida offers a wealth of options to choose from. Their many cookbook listings include Key Lime Desserts and Orange Recipes: Famous Recipes from Famous Places by Joyce LaFray, and Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen.
Historical offerings include Roaring Reptiles, Bountiful Citrus, and Neon Pies: An Unofficial Guide to Florida’s Official Symbols by Mark Lane and Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida by Gary Mormino. While these two offerings don’t focus entirely on citrus, they help put the dramatic history of Florida into context.
So, resolve to make 2022 a year of reading!
Ruth Borger is a communications specialist at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.
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