Friday, March 29, 2024

Get Ready for the Solar Eclipse: Bring Oranges!

One week after Easter, on April 8, 2024, North America will experience a total solar eclipse. This will be the first total eclipse of the sun since 2017. During an eclipse, the path of the sun enables many residents of the United States to witness a celestial phenomenon (using protective glasses) that is truly remarkable.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon orbits between the sun and Earth, thereby fully blocking the face of the sun. When this happens, the sky will darken for a few minutes, as if it were twilight. According to Science News: "Compared with the last total eclipse that crossed the United States, in 2017, this year’s total eclipse will last longer, the sky will fall darker, and the sun itself will put on a much livelier show."

What, you may ask, does all of this have to do with oranges and grapefruits?  Well, as it turns out, the unusual changes in lighting that occur during the mid-day eclipse do strange things to our eyesight, as the rod and cone cells in our eyes have to adapt to the quickly changing conditions.  Not only do vitamin C and bioflavonoids play an important role in how we see things, the color orange becomes key: read on to find out more.

Vitamin C, Bioflavonoids, and Your Eyes

Our eyes are comprised of two major photoreceptor cells in the retina: rods and cones.  True to their names, the rods have an elongated shape, while cones have a conical shape. Rods are receptive to low light and help with our peripheral vision, while cones are adapted to pick up vibrant colors and details in full light. During the eclipse, both rods and cones will engage together in the twilight of partial or full totality; this dual engagement of rods and cones results in an unusual way to see colors, called mesopic vision. While warm colors like orange, red, and yellow--the colors of many citrus fruits--tend to be bright and visible by day, they turn much darker when mesopic vision is engaged. Likewise, cooler colors like green and purple become very vibrant.  

Here's a fun experiment you can try: bring a bowl of citrus fruits, apples. and green grapes and wear a combination of warm and cool colors during the eclipse. When the eclipse is at totality, take a moment to look away from the sky, remove your protective eyewear, and look at your clothes, the bowl of fruit, and surroundings.  You'll see a world that is literally in the "twilight zone," where oranges look purple, apples look black, and green grapes look bright and vivid. This is called the Purkinje effect.

The vitamin C and bioflavonoids found in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits promote the health of the nerves that enervate the rods and cones so that the color perception can be transmitted to the brain.  These powerful compounds also strengthen the blood vessels and structural integrity of our eyes, enabling us to better experience the dynamic wonder of the eclipse.  As such, it's a great time to uptick your consumption of oranges and grapefruits in these days leading up to the eclipse.

Citrus and Science Models

There is nothing quite as effective as using models to teach astronomy.  Lucky for us, the sun resembles a very large orange or grapefruit, and as such makes a perfect "sun," Grab a ping pong or golf ball for the moon and a blue and green bouncy ball for the planet Earth and voila! You have an instant model to teach kids what the solar eclipse is all about.  After the learning session, you can eat the sun!

In fact, "eating the sun" is what we are doing every time we enjoy a delicious piece of fruit from Florida Fruit Shippers. Thanks to the warmth and light from our closest star and the finest growing conditions and practices, our fruit "eclipses" anything you'll ever find in a grocery store.

Happy Easter, Passover, and Solar Eclipse, from all of us here at Florida Fruit Shippers!


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Thursday, March 14, 2024

The Luck of the Orange-ish


Ahh, Saint Patrick's Day approaches, laddies!  It's a time when we can all be Irish for a day and revel in the luck o'the leprechauns. The tradition we are all familiar with is to wear green--lest ye get pinched--for good luck, and to follow the rainbow to its end for a pot o' gold.  

But did ye know that in Ireland, green isn't the only color associated with Saint Patty's Day. Saint Patrick himself actually wore blue, and as such blue was the original color associated with the holiday. The Irish flag boasts three colors: Green, white, and orange. These colors represent harmony between Ireland's two major religions--Catholic and Protestant-- and as such it is not uncommon to see the color orange worn during the month of March, and not just sported as orange leprechaun beards. While this might not be the case for some regions of Ireland where the intended religious harmony is not yet realized, orange can be a fun main or accent color for Saint Patrick's celebrations in other areas.  That goes for foods as well: in addition to "green-ifying" dishes and even beer, we can also serve orange-colored foods, and Irish eyes will be a-smiling.

Eating the Rainbow
One of the most famous traditions associated with Saint Patrick's Day is to "follow the rainbow" to find a pot o' gold. What if the "gold" you are seeking is in the rainbow itself?  You can use an assortment of citrus fruits to cover the red, orange, and yellow parts of the rainbow color spectrum and then fill in the green and blue with other types of fruits. 

Where's the gold, you ask? Easy: it's your good health, the greatest treasure of them all. And since we are talking edible sources of gold here, here's a creative St. Patrick's Day decorating idea: Take a leprechaun-styled pot, fill it with juicy tangerines and voila! You have a pot o' gold!

Cheers to Your Health

Another famous tradition associated not only with Saint Patrick's Day but also the Irish spirit in general is, well, spirits. Fun drinks enjoyed in moderation exemplify the camaraderie and warmth of the Irish culture, made famous by pubs and live music.  What better citrus-based drink to enjoy during this time of the year than the Drunk Leprechaun or its liquor-free version the Green Leprechaun?  While the drink itself may be green, its delicious flavor comes primarily from orange juice, and it is garnished with a juicy slice of navel orange.

To make it, simply mix equal parts orange juice and grape juice (alcohol-free version) or orange juice with vodka and blue curacao, stir, and garnish with a juicy slice or three of navel orange (and maybe a maraschino cherry). Slainte! 

Orange Is the New Green
Most oranges are, well, orange, but some varieties in Asia have green skin even when ripe, and all citrus starts out as a green-skinned fruit on the tree.  While the flesh of oranges and grapefruits can be yellow, green, or pink, a popular St. Patrick's Day tradition is to dye foods green.  A healthy way to do this is with another superfood: spinach!  Simply puree fresh spinach with water, strain out the pulp, and soak your citrus pieces or slices in the green liquid for a couple of hours. 

Move over, green eggs and ham: here come green oranges and grapefruits!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from all of us here at Florida Fruit Shippers.


Why Do Some People Wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day? (

Why Some Wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day (Facts) (

Drunk Leprechaun - Shake Drink Repeat

Blue CuraƧao - What is it, What Does it Taste Like and More - The Kitchen Magpie

DIY Natural Food Dyes (

Why is my orange green? | Plant Scientist (

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