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Oranges Add Zest to Winter

Brighten up dreary winter days with bright and delicious oranges! An extremely popular fruit beloved by adults and kids alike, oranges grow year-round in California with Valencia oranges growing in summer and thick-skinned navel oranges growing in winter.

Oranges are thought to have originated in southern China, northeastern India or southeastern Asia. The fruit was brought over to the Mediterranean region by either Italian traders around the year 1450 or by Portuguese navigators around 1500. In that time period, citrus fruits were mainly used by Europeans as medicine. However, the wealthy Europeans became enamored with oranges and the fruit was grown in private conservatories called orangeries.

Oranges were introduced to California when Spanish missionaries brought the fruit over when they built the first mission in San Diego in 1769. The first commercial citrus orchard in California was launched in Los Angeles in 1840s by a frontiersman named William Wolfskill, who procured the lemon and orange seedlings from the San Gabriel Mission.  The Gold Rush of 1849 brought about a huge demand for oranges as it was well established that citrus fruits can combat scurvy. Although Wolfskill enjoyed regional success, it wasn’t until the 1870s that the California citrus exploded in popularity. Due to the introduction of navel oranges, the state experienced economic success and social development.

Today, the orange is the most commonly grown fruit tree in the world. Oranges are grown in the Far East, Australia, South Africa, the Mediterranean, South America, and the Caribbean. The United States is the world’s top producer of oranges, with Florida leading the pack with a yield of more than 200 million boxes.

Orange Nutritional Facts:

How sweet is this? Oranges are low in calories with only 70 to 80 calories per orange. According to Live Strong, one orange has more than 100% of the daily value of vitamin C, an important antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage, keeps the skin and bones healthy, and helps the body absorb iron.

Oranges are high in fiber (3 grams per orange). Fiber helps keep the digestive system healthy, controls levels of cholesterol, reduces risks of heart disease, and helps protect the body from colon cancer. The citrus wonder also contains folate (especially good for pregnant women) and potassium which helps regulate healthy blood pressure levels, and supports nerve and muscle health.

Oranges are delicious on their own, juiced, or added to sweet or savory dishes. Check out this healthy and yummy orange honey dessert recipe.

Fun Facts about Oranges:

The bigger the navel on a navel orange, the sweeter it will be.

In the 17th century, oranges were added into cosmetics used by ladies of the French court.

Every year, 25 billion oranges grow in the US.

In South America, oranges are cooked as soup. A dozen whole and peeled oranges are boiled in sweetened water for 20 minutes and then strained. The resulting liquid is poured over toast and slices of lemon and served as soup.

In Afghanistan, oranges are used as seasoning at the dinner table. They are squeezed onto food to help cut the grease of the dish.

References:

http://health.learninginfo.org/facts-about-oranges.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/386429-nutritional-facts-on-oranges/

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/orange.html

http://www.californiacountry.org/features/article.aspx?arID=695

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