Tropicana’s new line of drinks, Farmstand, is designed to conjure thoughts of health in a consumer’s mind. The name evokes the mental image of a farmer bringing in her fresh vegetables and fruits to market.
Each bottle includes pictures of beautiful produce that almost screams that it contains vitamins and minerals. But just how healthy are these drinks? We decided to take a look at one of the products: Tropicana Farmstand Pomegranate Blueberry.
What you need to know:
The drink comes in a 12 ounce bottle. Readers may recall that that the FDA has defined a serving size for juice (or cola, or seltzer for that matter) as 8 ounces (1 cup). However, marketers have deemed that quantity is deemed too small for a package, and thus 12 ounces is the industry standard.
The front of package boasts that the drink has 180 calories. 148 of them (82%) are from sugars! That’s 9 teaspoons. Now it’s true that the ingredients are all natural (see below). But, juicing them pretty much drains them of all their fiber. This product is not a significant source of fiber, but if had you eaten all the vegetables and fruits that go into the bottle, you would have consumed 3-5 grams of fiber. You would have also consumed a lot of naturally occurring vitamin C and vitamin A but they are also lost in processing, and are added as separate ingredients ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and beta-carotene.
Let’s take a look at the ingredient list:
Reconstituted clarified sweet potato juice, grape juice, apple juice, carrot juice, red beet juice, blueberry juice and pomegranate juice (filtered water, grape juice, clarified sweet potato juice, apple juice, carrot juice, red beet juice, pomegranate juice and blueberry juice concentrates), natural flavors, citric acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and beta-carotene.
The first ingredient is interesting – Reconstituted clarified sweet potato juice. A very-healthy-for-you sweet potato is juiced. It is then clarified, which means it is strained and all the fiber nutrient goodness is discarded. It is then reconstituted which means water is added to it. Why would water be added? Perhaps, as in Tropicana’s orange juice, the sweet potato juice is concentrated by removing water, and then chills in a huge vat for a few months before being reconstituted and bottled.
There are 4 more juices listed before we reach the ones named in the product (blueberry and pomegranate). You can imagine that there is a very small amount of these relatively expensive fruit juices in your bottle. The juice is mostly sweet potato, apple, and grape juice (very cheap). And that’s why you’ll see natural flavors added to the ingredient list. They add the (lab made) blueberry and pomegranate flavors you expect when you take your first sip.
This is not a healthy beverage. Veggies and fruits are great – eat them, don’t gulp them down as a drink. You’ll get far more nutrients and fill much more full with 180 calories of produce eaten vs drunk.
Oh, and regarding the comparison to Coke. A 12-ounce can of Coke has half a teaspoon more of sugar compared to Tropicana Farmstand. So yes, the juice is less unhealthy. But that does not make it healthy…