In defense of pasteurization

I recently purchased a bottle of juice from Whole Foods, only to begin vomiting profusely several hours after drinking it. The juice, it turns out, was not pasteurized.

At first, I imagined that I had somehow found myself transported to an earlier century, where we lacked knowledge of the benefits of pasteurization, but the fact that my surroundings remained in full color disproved this hypothesis.

I then imagined that some catastrophic event had occurred and that fire itself could no longer be conjured. I ruled out this possibility once I successfully burned myself on a candle, which proved a useful distraction from the greater pain of discovering that my juice was left unpasteurized intentionally, and that this is evidently not a felony.

It turns out that there are people who prefer non-pasteurized beverages, and that I know (and even like) some of these people! I am unsure why they have such peculiar and masochistic preferences, but it appears that some people prefer non-pasteurized beverages because they supposedly taste better or because they contain certain nutrients that would otherwise be destroyed in the process of pasteurization.

Perhaps my tastes are unsophisticated, but it seems that pursuing a marginally better tasting juice at the cost of unnecessarily exposing oneself to a wealth of pathogens is ill-advised. Similarly, a minor nutritional benefit that may be obtained by drinking non-pasteurized beverages would seem somewhat outweighed by the mass presence of said pathogens.

I can only conclude, therefore, that those who prefer non-pasteurized beverages either actively enjoy pathogens, or live their lives in pursuit of taste and vitamins above all else. Perhaps more charitably, I can conclude they doubt the existence of pathogens altogether, and therefore believe pasteurization can have no beneficial effect, a position that is consistent if nothing else.

For my own part, I’ll keep to pasteurized beverages, which I generally enjoy, on the naïve assumptions that pathogens exist, that vomiting is undesirable, and that things originating from soil or teats are not always ready for consumption.

This post is dedicated to Louis Pasteur in the hope that wherever he is, he does not regret having saved lives with his superfluous process.