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Apple Juice and Old Lace

Dr. Oz leads the charge against juice boxes.

Apparently the apple doesn't fall far from the tree as Dr. Oz is now to apple juice, as Oprah is to beef.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is the much beloved Oprah protege with the high TV Q, and now, his own show. This week, in one fell swoop, he caused entire nursery schools to cry, prompted parched playgroups around the country, and made Mott's really mad when he announced that apple juice is toxic. A collective gasp from mothers everywhere was actually audible. 

On his syndicated show and in interviews afterward, Oz claimed that apple juice contains high levels of arsenic that are unsafe – higher levels than are allowed in drinking water. This can lead to cancer and kidney problems. 

Dr. Oz sent samples of five different brands of apple juice to a lab to be tested. He said that part of the problem is that some of the apples used for popular apple juice producers, are not grown in this country and therefore not regulated.   

The FDA fired back immediately, discounting Oz's claims. They said that Dr. Oz's results only took into account the total amount of arsenic. There is organic and inorganic arsenic, some of it appears naturally.  They said that organic arsenic is harmless. Juice growers' association representatives echoed this, saying that arsenic levels in apples and juice are tested when the apples are picked, after the juice is made, before the juice arrives in stores, and even at the consumer level.   

Various medical professionals have since weighed in on whether or not all arsenic is toxic. Some arguing that Oz was causing unnecessary panic and just looking for publicity. Others cited studies that showed that organic arsenic can actually convert to the inorganic and toxic arsenic. Many of us aren't sure how to feel about this. 

OK, so let me get this straight: I can no longer send my child to peanut butter and jelly – possible peanut allergies, on white bread – bleached flour bad, those cute little carrots – I got that email saying they were dangerous and dipped in chlorine – now I have to peel the regular ones again – thank you very much, Oreos – exactly whose idea was it to put the calories and fat content on the labels? And now, an apple juice box. Is nothing sacred?

So now I have to prepare organic soy butter and all natural, no sugar added, preserves on whole grain, low-fat sandwich slims with  organically grown  carrots, peeled by peeved mom, with cookie-like desserts, sweetened with fruit juice – NOT APPLE, and some lactaid, non-fat milk. Really?

I'm not a bad mother. But this is ridiculous. Shopping for and putting together a healthy, non toxic lunch is an impossible challenge unless you are a certified nutritionist or OCD – I mean, concerned parent. When we were growing up, survival of the fittest had a whole different meaning – and not just in dodgeball – which is also now banned. 

Though we had fresh produce, we also ate fruit and vegetables out of a can. Remember those fruit cocktails packed in syrup?  My mother would put a maraschino cherry on top of it and serve it before dinner.  Canned fruit AND red dye number 2, and we all lived. We ate canned string beans with canned onions. Potato Stix, Pixy Stix, Swanson's TV dinners, (does anyone remember shake-a-pudding?) fake American cheese wrapped in plastic and Wonder Bread. And we are still here!

When my mother said she was going to the market, I knew she was one of two places. But things are very different now. There's a lot of pressure to prepare the perfect meals for our families, it's quite daunting. I go to the outdoor, town Farmer's Market and the indoor green grocer for fresh produce, 's for specialty items, Whole Foods for organic, for staples, for soups and prepared foods, Target for cleaning supplies and Costco for bargains. The only people who have time to do this are the unemployed. No one with a real job could keep this up or should attempt to.

So, until they clear all of this up, what to do with the gallons of apple juice procured at Costco? I figure I must have special immunity, due aforementioned childhood diet and dodgeball, so this will be the winter of hot toddies, for me. And my son can buy lunch in the cafeteria. I'm exhausted.

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