Let’s face it, who ISN’T juicing these days?? Whether it is to lose weight, detox, promote digestion, or simply to fit all those fruits and veggies into your diet, almost everyone has jumped on the juicing bandwagon over the past couple of years, including myself…
I started juicing in 2012 when I was back home in NYC for the fall and winter. I was experiencing an increase in my sensitivity to foods, which I was able to attribute to my lifestyle and the demand my two businesses were having on my sensitive digestion. I rarely had the opportunity to sit and chew my food and the couple of seconds I had in-between clients or meetings to eat was taking a toll on my health, my mood and my energy. I was tired, bloated and cramped every single day:( It was unbearable, especially when it trickled down, creating an even worse situation for my back. Basically, I was in pain for the entire seven months I was in New York, which by the way was supposed to be for Elique Organics. I planned on having a constant presence at ABC Home to rep the line while also doing business with Jakob at the Crosby Street Hotel and my uncle Upstate NY on the farm… I left my salon, Get Waxed, in Venice Beach to hustle my brand and instead I get to NYC, my home sweet home, to find myself basically immobile. I became afraid of food (Me? I LOVE FOOD) because nothing made me feel good. My body was in chronic and acute pain (which is another blog post… My physical therapist here in LA saved my life and I have been pain-free for over a year!) and because I could barely move, I began gaining weight. I didn’t know what to do and with The Juice Press down the street from my flat, I decided to try juicing. And what an enlightening journey it has been…
To this day, the Juice Press has the most complete and delicious tasting juices I have ever had! Their “Tomato Gazpacho”, “Spanish Fly” and “Perfect Pear” are my absolute favorites. I was buying six juices every other day, drinking three per day, and was shocked at how full, happy and energetic I felt. My conscience though was unsettled. I was buying and discarding at least 18 plastic bottles every single week, fully participating in polluting the environment. For something so healthy, it was clearly not so healthy for my beloved Mother Earth. Why wouldn’t The Juice Press put their Organic juice in glass? I asked them… It came down to cost.
When I came back to Venice Beach, I was so happy that Local 1205 on Abbot Kinney Blvd., which had opened for business while I was in NYC, was selling cold pressed juice in glass! What a treat. But there was yet another quandary… they were not using organic ingredients. Oy Vey! I knew though that until I found my ideal source, I would much rather have non-organic juice in glass than organic juice in plastic. No question about it. Then I found out that Erewhon in West Hollywood had organic and cold-pressed juices in glass and twice a week I would drive at 10 p.m. to avoid Los Angeles traffic, just to have a juice that met my standards. The incentive to trade in the used glass bottles was also appreciated but not enough to keep me doing it. The drive became exhausting! EXHAUSTING!! I had to find another way.
Then, one day while en route to Trader Joe’s in Santa Monica, I discovered ReJuice. I was so excited about them because they packaged their product in glass and their prices were amazing with or without the bottle return discount! Ron, the owner of ReJuice, opened his store using glass and his business is a success not because he is focused solely on the profit margin but because his product and packaging from the get -go have been thoughtful and true to who he is and his vision for a business that leaves little footprint.
Their gorgeous formulas used all organic ingredients but I was looking for a bit more diversity and still something closer to home so I arrived full circle back to Local 1205, and to my surprise they were using more organic ingredients.
New juice spots began popping up everywhere but they were all using plastic to bottle their products. One Venice Beach spot even gives the customer a plastic shooter cup to drink the shot they are intending to drink right then and there. REALLY!? URGH Hipsters!
Every time I asked the merchants why they would not use glass, I would hear the same excuse; “Glass is too expensive.” I don’t buy it! If your juice is $12, you can afford glass. If you can afford prime real estate, you can afford glass. If the health of the planet is your top priority, you can definitely afford glass. There is no price tag on ones core values, right?
Some shop owners would try to justify their use of plastic by saying that it was either corn-based/compostable or recyclable, but I’m here to debate that too. PLA, (Polylactic Acid) the plastic made from corn, cannot be recycled, only composted and for it to decompose it must be under the right conditions. Environment, temperature and oxygen all play a role in if or not something will compost. Most consumers do not understand this key factor, so many PLA products end up in our landfills, taking hundreds, even thousands of years to decompose. Finally, Nature Works, who is the world’s largest producer of PLA, is a subsidiary of Cargill, which is the world’s largest provider of genetically modified corn seed. So now our juiceries are directly supporting Big-Ag and I bet if you asked the individual owners if they supported a GMO free world, they would all agree that they did. Their actions however say something else because if they truly wanted something better for the world, a healthy environment and a crystal blue ocean to swim in, then they would do what was in their power to make that happen in their own community.
So, this is what I don’t understand. All of these pressed juiceries promote health, well-being and weight management, but they are polluting our environment just as much as bottled water companies are. Like any other corporate big business, they too have a bottom line that will not be crossed, no matter the consequence to the environment. This industry cares about “detoxing” but they could care less about detoxing our diseased environment. How can they pose as something more desirable than what you could buy in a major grocer? What makes them better than Tropicana? Truly? I am asking this question because all these companies are compromised. And organic juice? What better way to degrade your beautiful, organic product than by putting in a plastic? James Beard recognized raw food chef, Matthew Kenney, was the ONLY person to mention plastic in the recent New York Times piece, The Juice-Bar Brawl. Really folks, no one else has thought about this? Matthew Kenney is “not a fan of something sitting in plastic for days or weeks”. As a juicer himself, he knows that plastic completely compromises the integrity of the gorgeous ingredients.
It is outrageous too that no one has started the conversation about this epidemic, especially since the business of juice has grown exponentially. How interesting my observation that none of the heavy hitters (Blue Print, Kreation, Pressed Juicery, The Juice Press) has taken the bull by the horns and decided to swim in the Blue Ocean, participating in a competitive market by creating a niche and doing something that sets you apart from the rest. Having a competitive edge via innovation, leadership and stepping outside of the industry comfort zone by hustling your values alongside your business strategy. They could create an entire marketing strategy on the integrity and sustainability of their business. Ummm, the timing couldn’t be better, right? Why instead is there so much fear attached to such a natural and pure product? Perhaps these business owners need to cleanse themselves and receive some intuitive healing sessions to release their anxiety and truly be in sync with their brand.
The top juice bars in New York are: Blue Print, The Juice Press, Organic Avenue and Liquiteria, ALL of them use plastic. The top juice bars in Chicago are: Peeled, Mana Food Bar, Protein Bar and Green Corner, ALL of them use plastic. The top juice bars in Los Angeles are ReJuice, Ewerwhon, Local 1205, Kreation, Pressed Juicery, and Clover. Pressed and Clover use plastic, ReJuice and Local 1205 bottle everything in glass and Kreation too is going in that direction, bottling their Premium Detox juices in glass. I would hope that sooner, rather than later, all of their juices will be.
Also, with so many of these juiceries delivering their customized cleanses to their clients, why not at least package the delivered products in glass? Seems like a win-win situation, no? Give and get. And again, whatever reason the business has for not doing this, I pose this; Impossible is Nothing. Whatever health department requirements, etc… that are imposed, if your mission is to be a truly sustainable and healthy product then you will do what it takes. Period!
Companies nowadays are swimming in the Red Ocean and it is upsetting because they have created a gorgeous and well-intended product that is attached to fear. I ask this: What do we desire for the future, outside of ourselves? Do we want flourishing ecosystems and a lush and fertile earth that can supply us with beautiful food to nourish and sustain us? How about we request that our juicery use glass to package its product because believe it or not, the more the staff and upper management hear these requests, the more they will take notice, especially if we choose not to buy their product. Why is this so difficult to conceptualize? What happened to buying only a product that we believe in? This is what Conscious Consumerism is all about. Something deeper than what is on the surface. Why is it so difficult for people to initiate communication with the business owners in our community? We are the consumer and We should expect that the merchants want to know who We are because We are their direct market and We decide if a local business will succeed or fail. Do not relinquish yourself just yet. Also, as human beings, we have a shared responsibility and should remind our peers because maybe they never gave it much thought until it was brought to their attention. Why not help enlighten someone else? We are ALL in this together, right?
By no means is any business perfect and we all make compromises, however, I was raised on Tough-Love and when a business for-profit is BLATANTLY harming our already fragile and very sick planet, then that business needs to be called out. Pressed-Juiceries, You are being Called-Out so either step-up and do what is right or go hang with Monsanto, Bayer, Cargill, BP Oil, Factory Farms…all of them and accept that your healthy fruit does not fall far from their genetically diced and spliced tree.
We share a universe that is abundant with energy from all sources of life, millions of species you cannot even see with the naked eye but as relevant as you and I. We belong to the same eco-system so why is it so hard to respect this life as much as we do our own? You too may be on a juice kick, but ask what your mission is. Do you want to be skinny or do you want to be healthy? If it’s the latter, know you never will be as long as you choose to ingest foods that are compromised and that then compromise the wellnes of our planet.
Will you stand up for what you believe in?
Until next time…
P.S. Because of my demanding work schedule, it was challenging making my own juices. Between the amount of product needed and the time to prep and clean up during the week, there was just no way. Currently though, I began making Smoothies at home which I love (I have a vitamix not a juicer). I am experimenting with a base of brown rice, hemp seeds, lemon (juice, zest and sweet pith) fresh raw almond milk and my amazing honeys. From this, I can go either sweet (berries and cinnamon and yummmy stone fruits soon in season) or savory (greens, cayenne, beet, fresh herbs…) YUMMM!
P.S.S. I am beginning to believe that many of these companies are not using certified organic ingredients in their juices. How can they when, from what I hear, it takes up to six pounds of produce to fill one jar of cold-pressed extracted juice and when that juice retails at $9-12? I just cannot see how they can break even. Things that make me go hmmm…
P.S.S.S. And shame on you Danny Meyer. I used to work at Eleven Madison Park and admired your philosophy and values. If anyone would package a gorgeous food based product in glass, I would think it would be a you, a fine restaurateur; someone unlike most that truly respects the integrity of a gorgeous and organic fresh ingredient. Would you serve your food at Gramercy Tavern on a plastic plate? And then, if it couldn’t be worse, the plastic jars you chose for your Creative Juice look cut-rate. The worst I have ever seen. I would never want that bottle near my lips because from here it looks like it is soaked in petroleum, along with the phthalate coated shrink wrap. Blue Ocean? Not by a long-shot.