How much do you pay for a fresh orange juice these days at a posh cafe? We have 500 orange trees in Fournes, Chania, a village on the way to Omalos Plain and the famous Samaria Gorge, about 5 kilometers from our house. The last time they were sprayed with insecticide was about 15 years ago, which is about the time my husband finally put some sense into his head (even though he knew that the rashes and itches that he developed after the spraying were due to that). We used to pick them ourselves and send them off to the packing plant, but prices for oranges were dropping and the work was underpaid for the goods we were offering. There was a time when the wholesalers were offering prices as low as 10 eurocents per kilo of goods picked straight off the tree. We were being humiliated, even though our orange gold was highly sought after. So we stopped selling them. We let them fall off the trees and fertilise the field. (The peacock in the photo does not belong to us; find out what he was doing there.)
Prices finally picked up again after an orange-growers' crisis in South America and Spain. We are now usually paid approximately 50 cents per kilo of fresh produce picked from the field, minus 6% "non-marketable" product (what we call 'skarta'), which is 'passed on' (by the greedy wholesale-exporter) to the orange juice factory in Hania - BIOXYM. My husband used to live in the area when he was young and he remembers queues and queues of trucks waiting to enter the factory to unload oranges. This was in the days when agriculture was in its heyday in Hania - and producers, whether farming was their main job or a secondary hobby, were subsidised. Those days are over. The skarta oranges are squeezed whole and turned into concentrated orange juice - no preservatives added. A liter of this concentrated juice (it requires refrigeration once the bottle is opened) sells for 2 euro a bottle, which can be recycled at collection points. BIOXYM orange juice is sold all over the country.
Non- marketable produce is usually oranges that look a little scraggly on the outside, like the ones in the photo. But look at them from the inside: nothing wrong with them. In face, they're full of sweet juice. To make four glasses of orange juice for all of us in the family, I need a large fruit bowl full of oranges.
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