Tom Karst, National Editor
Tom Karst, National Editor

"Drop the drugs. Keep the grapefruit.”

I love that reader comment after a Toronto Globe and Mail story about another warning about the interaction of grapefruits with modern medicine. By the way, haven’t we heard this song before?

Grapefruit has been taking public relation hits from researchers since 1989 on the effects of the fruit and its juices on prescription meds.

Looking in library of The Packer, I was somewhat surprised to find this news item from a Packer story in 1996. It read:

“Grapefruit could change the way we take prescription drugs in the future. University of Michigan scientists are studying how the fruit helps the human body absorb medicine more efficiently.

“Grapefruit juice has been found to increase the body’s ability to absorb many common medications, including blood pressure drugs.”

Trying to create a positive spin on grapefruit’s interaction with medicines was an attempt to make lemonade out of the bitter news, perhaps.

But that complicated, mind-bending approach probably won’t stand in face of such dire warnings that we are seeing publicized now in Canada.

The Globe and Mail story reports a warning from the Canadian Medical Association that states eating a grapefruit or consuming its juices while taking a wide range of prescription medications could soon lead to “gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depressed breathing and sudden death.”

What’s more, the article implicates other citrus, including seville oranges, limes and pomelos, but researchers note “they aren’t as well-studied.”


Old people take medicine, and the perception is that mostly old people eat grapefruit. For grapefruit growers, that’s a market-killing combination.

Medical warnings, freezes, citrus canker, citrus greening and more medical warnings.

Not surprisingly, the per capita consumption of grapefruit in the U.S. has fallen off the kitchen table.

Check it out: The per capita consumption of all grapefruit was 19.7 pounds in 1976, including 9.3 pounds for fresh and 10.4 pounds of fruit used for grapefruit juice.

By 1995, the per capita consumption of grapefruit slid to 16.3 pounds, with 6 pounds consumed fresh and 10.3 pounds of farm weight grapefruit used for grapefruit juice.

The big drop has occurred in the past 15 years, with 2010 per-capita consumption at 6 pounds total, with 2.8 pounds fresh and a mere 3.2 pounds of farm weight grapefruit.

Though fighting an epic uphill battle, the Florida Department of Citrus is trying to get the good news about grapefruit out there.

Earlier this year, department-funded research found that women age 19 and older who consume grapefruit tend to have significantly greater intakes of several key nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, beta-carotene, magnesium and vitamin B6 than those who don’t consume grapefruit.

What’s next for grapefruit? The grim per-capita consumption numbers are not encouraging, no doubt. And the periodic alarming news stories about grapefruit interaction with drugs aren’t likely to disappear, even as the number of pill-popping Americans increases.

We need the top minds of the fresh produce industry to reverse this slide in grapefruit consumption. Still, it may be an impossible task.

Think about it: When was the last time you had a grapefruit or grapefruit juice? For me, it has been quite a while, and I don’t even take any pills (yet).

It’s time for me to put grapefruit back on the shopping list.

The first person I’m putting on the task force for reviving grapefruit demand is the reader who suggested to “drop the drugs, keep the grapefruit.” Depending on what medicines you are taking, that may be sound advice.

Better yet, all of us who are not yet on prescription medications that clash with grapefruit should let one of Mother Nature’s finest fruits work its magic now.

Perhaps in that process we can avoid the dozens of medications that will arbitrarily take grapefruit and grapefruit juice off our shopping list.


Moms are viewed as heroic when they serve vegetables to their family.

Not like Captain America spandex and cape status, perhaps, but a hero nonetheless.

A new Cornell University study published in Public Health Nutrition surveyed 500 U.S. mothers. The participants rated the personality of women who either prepared or did not prepare vegetables with a family meal and rated four different meals that either included or did not include a vegetable, according to a press release about the study.

The addition of vegetables helped increase the positive response in multiple ways, making the meal seem more “complete,” “loving,” “tasty,” and prepared with more effort or thought. Respondents also rated the vegetable-preparing mothers as more loving and thoughtful and less boring or selfish.

I see two sides to this research.

Sure, we can focus on the fact that moms who serve vegetables are noble. But why not guilt the many mothers who aren’t living up to the standard?

How about a tagline like “Supermoms serve veggies, lazy moms don’t”?

What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.