YOU CAN’T miss seeing oranges on trees next to urban streets across large parts of Spain and though its tempting to grab a free bite, the advice is very much don’t as they are not suitable for human consumption.
Orange trees, with their blossoms or oranges, are very decorative trees, and their blossom perfumes streets and squares, especially during the spring season.
They produce ‘bitter oranges’ which are used to make jam, while their leaves are used in some teas to boost metabolism.
Other uses include ingredients in perfumes, essential oils, and even in the manufacture of compost.
Those are all big plus points BUT ‘bitter’ or ‘urban’ oranges should not be eaten.
Urban oranges, planted by city councils and turned by children into small balls for improvised football matches or thrown weapons by demonstrators at any type of protest, are a ‘food by-product’, as the Association for the Defence of Bitter Oranges (ADNA) has been explaining for a number of years.
ADNA warns of the ‘high risk’ posed by the use of street oranges for human consumption because their skin absorbs all the gases and toxic products derived from urban pollution, such as lead and heavy metals from vehicle emissions.
Orange peel is a fundamental ingredient of marmalade, exported mainly to the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia.
Until a few years ago, some companies used street oranges – obtained at cut price- to make various products for human consumption, especially jams.
Orange growers cooperatives have been fighting against sub-standard produce and publicise ‘safe’ oranges that comply with all health laws.
They point out that ‘oranges that are produced in the field go through all the health registrations and controls, and comply with the food quality standards of the European Union’.
They advise people finding oranges lying in streets to collect and destroy them, or to use them as fertiliser.