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San Diegans Buy Imported Oranges Over Locally Grown

Consumers prefer their oranges brightly colored, easy to peel, and seedless.

Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Video published October 19, 2009 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Following your leads, KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma tells us why most of the oranges we eat in San Diego are not locally grown. The answer may come as a surprise.

— San Diego is sending its oranges to the Far East. And the oranges we’re eating here are coming from as far away as Africa.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to tell me where your oranges were grown. It turns out, that a lot of you are eating oranges from Australia, South Africa, Peru and Chile. Only a small number of you are buying oranges grown in San Diego County, even though San Diego County grows 95,000 tons of oranges each year. In fact, locally grown oranges are considered some of the tastiest in the world. Countries like India, China, Korea and Japan pay top dollar to buy San Diego oranges.

So why aren’t we eating oranges grown here? We posed that question to John Demshki of the California Citrus Mutual. He says we -- San Diego consumers -- are the reason. We like our oranges to be bright orange, easy to peel and seedless. Those oranges come from Australia. Our oranges may be sweeter, but they have a thinner skin, they’re tougher to peel, and they have seeds.

So what’s better for us and the environment, eating locally grown oranges or does it matter? We’ll report back to you with what we find.

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