Frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ) was invented in 1945 by government researchers. To Florida orange growers beset by surplus production in some years and hard winter freezes in others, FCOJ was a "miracle" technology. Easily stored and transported, concentrate made it possible for orange juice processors to provide consumers with a uniform-quality product year-round. By the mid-1950s constantly rising consumer demand for FCOJ had essentially eliminated Florida orange growers’ constant surplus problem. Furthermore, many oranges that suffered from occasional winter frosts could be transformed into concentrate rather than destroyed. Thus, FCOJ appeared to rationalize the Florida orange industry in the 1950s, eliminating seasonal and annual swings in production and stabilizing prices and profits. However, when severe frosts attacked Florida groves in 1957-58 and again in 1962-63, FCOJ processors responded by doubling prices. Unlike other industrial agriculturists in American history, Florida orange growers and processors did not use technology to control nature in order to increase profits. Instead, they used the environmental limits imposed by Florida’s subtropical climate, along with their oligopolistic market position, to squeeze higher profits out of consumers. They respected the role of nature in limiting their production, not because they were enlightened ecologists, but because their control over orange juice production allowed them to make just as much money from a damaged crop of oranges as from a bumper crop. This case study thus calls into question the meaning of "rationalized" agriculture, showing that the logic of capitalist agriculture is not always straightforward.

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