My Kingdom for Some Orange Juice

Outrageous experiments in sensible eating.
Jan. 2 2011 9:45 PM

My Kingdom for Some Orange Juice

Here's a typical American experience: I was driving back to New York City from visiting my parents in Massachusetts for New Year's weekend. I pulled off the highway in Fairfield, Conn.,  to use the restroom, walk my dog, and grab a beverage. I'd finished the water I'd brought from home. Here's what I wanted: orange juice. (I know, you are supposed to choose real fruit over juices, but come on, there was a lot of traffic and I'm starting this eating plan thing tomorrow.)

Ellen Tarlin Ellen Tarlin

Ellen Tarlin is a former Slate copy chief and writer of the "Clean Plate" blog. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston PhoenixBrooklyn Bridge, Bark, and  the RISK storytelling podcast. Follow her on Twitter.

The offerings included, of course, a McDonald's, a few other fast-food-type places, a coffee place, a newsstand with snacks, etc. I searched. Sure, McDonald's has orange juice, but I didn't know what kind, and the lines were long and I wasn't going to wait to find out it was some from-concentrate nonsense. No juice at the coffee place--smoothies of indeterminate ingredients. No juice at the place that claimed you could "eat right, right away"; the vending machines had nothing more than different-colored versions of sugar water--soda, Snapple, Gatorade--as did the newsstand. Fine, I'll get water, I thought, and some raisins. At least raisins are dried fruit, right? Couldn't even get plain raisins. They all came mixed with stuff--and I'd already had some nuts that I'd brought from home.


This is called the "illusion of choice." It looked like there were so many places to go, so many different things to choose from, but the truth is, they are all the same: sugar, water, high-fructose corn syrup, fat, processed foods. Even when you have the best intentions, life sure makes it hard. " Slate Labs" chronicled this phenomenon with their latest interactive map on food deserts .

I got a bottle of water and some raisins and peanuts--and picked a few raisins out. It was the best I could do under the circumstances.

I am overwhelmed and excited by all of your comments and feedback. I'll start responding tomorrow. You are all great!

Happy New Year, all!




The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.