Abstract: Ordering Nature: Capital's Victory over the Environment and the Creation of Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice

Robert M. Hutchings


In the summer of 1945, the logic of capital triumphed over the chaos of nature in the orange groves of Florida. A small handful of scientists created frozen concentrated orange juice, finally bringing to fruition what had been a veritable pipe dream for so many involved in the Florida orange industry. For decades, growers, packers, and others fought with nature not merely over the basic agricultural problems of irrigation and fertility, but over the production of marketable fruit. Oranges had to have the right size, color, shape, and flavor to sell at good prices in northeastern markets, but most often growers had to settle for just two or three of those characteristics, and received corresponding prices. Thus, resolving the dissonance between capitalist enterprise, which insisted on factory-like efficiency, and nature, which utterly opposed such order, was increasingly the primary objective of all orange growers. That objective was realized in frozen concentrated orange juice. Concentrate at all stages of its history was a highly capitalized enterprise, and thus, from the perspective of the people who grew the oranges that became juice, capital defeated nature.