Juice; raw, fresh, cold pressed. A glass bottle full to the brim with leafy greens, bright berries and spicy ginger. What more could you ask for when trying to incorporate the necessary vegetables, fruits, minerals and vitamins in to your healthy diet. Well there is one obvious thing missing from this conversation, the word ORGANIC. 

There are numerous juice companies who are extremely successful in the Los Angeles based area, who are not using organic produce. They discuss the importance of nutrition, cleansing and how using the technique of a cold-pressed juicer creates a healthier juice. This is all valid and some what educational on the importance of incorporating juice into your diet. However, I am perplexed because if you are not using organic produce then are you not just filling your system with pesticides? 

I recently got into a conversation with Elizabeth Halpern from The Juice on exactly this subject. I asked her to shine a light on this topic because it doesn't make any sense to me, why would anyone open a juice bar and serve non-organic produce. As we got deeper on the subject I felt a post coming on. It suddenly dawned on me when Elizabeth mentioned their cleanse program; that juice cleansing is a mega trend which lead me to the understanding that so many people are actually undergoing some what of a pesticide cleanse!! What a terrifying thought!

I think it is an important reminder we all need to hear. Juice bars are popping up everywhere and for many it is just about convince and others it's about image. Let's set the record straight with an interview with Elizabeth who is co-owner of The Juice; which is a raw' organic' cold-pressed juice company based in Los Angeles.

Let's get right to the point, why is it important that we consume organic juices?

Aiming to to eat mostly organic foods is challenging yet a worth while venture, but finding organic cold-pressed juice is actually very feasible, and, in my opinion, it’s even more important that the juice you consume is organic. Basically cold pressed juice is made by pressing produce between two metal plates which are controlled with hydraulic technology that yields the power of seven tons of pressure. This technique extracts juice without creating much heat and therefore keeps all the  enzymes (which make the juice so good for you), alive. The powerful pressure also extracts more juice, literally down to the cellular level. The thought of pressing pesticides and insecticides along with all the good stuff, is not a palatable one. 

Juice is generally delicious and refreshing, but these days, mosts folks consume so much of it for the nutritional benefits, like I mentioned before, for all the live cancer-fighting enzymes, and also all the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients present in fresh fruits and vegetables. Poisoning all of that with actual poison in the form of pesticides etc. which are used in conventional farm practices, is totally counterintuitive, and, in my opinion, even dangerous.

What are these pesticides doing to our bodies? 

The true affects of pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and the like, on humans is not distinctively evident, Some studies report simple obvious reactions like rashes or headaches, but other studies are linking the build up of these elements in our bodies to cancer and other autoimmune diseases. 

Juice cleansing is vital for optimal health. For some, this is the only time they consume fresh juice and for others, it is part of their weekly, monthly or annual health regime. Isn't this the most important time to be drinking organic juice? Otherwise the words pesticide cleanse come to mind!

I meet so many people who are so excited and proud about the juice cleanse they just finished, but when I hear they were drinking juice that wasn’t organic and/or was also pasteurized, my heart sinks and I cringe to think of what they actually fed their body during that cleanse.

I also have three sons and a husband who was born in Ohio, so suffice it to say, we are not just a salad eating, organic juice drinking crew, we love meat and dairy and sugar and even indulge in the occasionally Shake Shack burger. I cook most nights though, and try and buy only organic, free-range, grass-fed etc. But to balance out my indulgences, I make sure to do a good clean cleanse a couple times a year. During this time its absolutely necessary to make sure everything I consume is pure and clean, otherwise, what’s the point right? I wouldn’t want to be adding to what i’m trying to cleanse away. When you’re detoxing it’s equally important that everything you consume is dense with vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients and live enzymes so your body is getting what it needs to sustain and your cleansing organs are not just getting a break, but also being fed nutrients to boost their performance.                                           

You mentioned briefly above about the process of cold-pressed juicing, would you be so kind to elaborate on this topic. Is this just a trend or is there an actual nutritional benefit to drink cold-pressed juice?

Traditional juice shops where you go in and request exactly what fruits and vegetables you want in your juice, use centrifugal juicers. These juicers have a fast spinning centrifuge blade which spins so fast it extracts the juice from the pulp, but that speed also creates heat which is in turn essentially killing the live enzymes present in the produce. Cold-pressed technology is slow and deliberate, it yields juice that has been less exposed to heat and oxygen and is denser with nutrients as the power of the hydraulic technology presses produce ’til the pulp is dry and everything it had to offer has been extracted. Plus it last longer, without depreciating in nutritional value. When I say longer, though, I’m talking three to five days, not three weeks! if you buy a juice that’s dated for more then five days from the time you bought it, that juice was pasteurized in some way, (to kill any possible bacteria present), but that process also kills those ever so desirable enzymes I keep mentioning!  So don’t drink anything but organic and raw even if it’s made from your juicer at home a centrifuge, auger or slow juicer. that’s better then pressed juice that’s been pasteurized.

For those of us juicing at home and do not have an entire room to store a cold pressed machine, are we ok to use a regular old fashioned juicer?

Unless you have a Norwalk at home, the juice you’re making is most likely inferior to cold-pressed, organic, raw, juice you can buy in our shop or a shop with similar practices. That doesn’t mean your juice is not good for you though, it’s just likely it’s not as full of nutrients and that it was exposed to more enzyme killing heat, so you should drink it promptly.

I am baffled by the concept that so many juice bars promote the idea of healing juicing when they are not using organic produce. So many people are also completely unaware that these brands are not organic, they just assume it is because its fresh and fancy juice. How are the companies getting away with this false sense of advertising due to big branding and how are so many people just assuming when it clearly does not state organic anywhere on the bottle?

I think the public is generally very trusting, especially with brands that seem to be ubiquitous and legitimate just by how familiar they are or how clever and appealing their packaging might be. It’s hard not to simply judge a book by it’s cover, but to take the time to read it, so to speak. I really think the majority of juice enthusiast either assume the products they’re purchasing are indeed organic and raw, or they don’t know that those elements make a considerable difference in the quality of what they’re consuming. The huge rise in the popularity of “cold-pressed” juice has also laid on a kind of a guise as people assume that means more then it does, it only refers to how it was initially processed, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t further processed to pasteurize it in some way, and it doesn't mean the produce that was “pressed” was good to start with. after all, what you yield from a hydraulic press juicer is only as good as what you put in it.

I've had a few experiences walking into juice bars and signature drinks not being available due to off season produce. As frustrating as it was not getting the juice I was craving, it supported the idea that these juice brands were honest and I could count on their organic sourcing. Are there any tips you would suggest when trying out a new juice bar? 

The up-side of global warming is that many fruits and vegetables, like strawberries and turmeric, which used to be seasonal, are now available year round. Especially here in California where our climate is very conducive to growing many things. Don’t be wary of turmeric particularly, because turmeric in its powder form has different characteristics then it does in its raw form but is still quite nutritious. My belief is that You really wanna look for three basic qualities when your choosing where to purchase your juice, especially when the prices are upward of $10 for a 16oz bottle. I would venture to hit all three marks if possible (it is at The Juice) but if not then here’s my opinion on order of importance...

1. RAW

2.  ORGANIC (please don’t consume juices that have been pressed down to the cellular level and are most likely full of chemicals from conventional farming methods, especially not when you’re trying to detox your body).  

3. COLD-PRESSED (though, as I have already expressed, this juicing method absolutely yields superior quality juice, it’s the least important on my list because I feel you can still get a whole lot of benefits and nutrients from juice which has been made at home on you slow juicer or something like that, as long as it was made with fresh, organic produce and it remains unadulterated and is consumed immediately.

How do you think we can re-educate people on the use of organic veggies/fruits in Juicing? 

That’s a difficult question. I guess from blogs like yours, that take the time to try and explain it and similar publications. I find it especially tough to tell someone face to face that they just spent good money on a "juice cleanse” with juice that could very well have had an adverse affect on their body’s natural cleansing and detoxing organs. Most of the time they look at me with a blank face and then proceed to deny any chance of that possibility because, perhaps they feel pretty good and maybe lost a few pounds, and those are actually awesome “side-effects”, but I think we need to also consider the long term affects of the build up of unnatural ingredients in our bodies from continual consumption of un-pure foods. I’m certainly no zealot on the matter, I love a crisp Jack & Coke, a full fat, dairy and gluten filled slice of cake and most definitely a fat steak, but occasionally refraining from those indulgences, cutting out all meat, dairy, gluten, caffein and alcohol and replacing it with pure, organic, raw, live nutritious juice for just a few days a couple times a year, is, in my humble opinion, an excellent addition to living a balanced, heathy and happy life.

Thank you Elizabeth for taking the time to share your thoughts on organic juicing. Please visit their juice bars, Elizabeth has an incredible vision and palette for juicing, My favorites are a No.1, No.3 and No.8. I have to mention the smoothies made with their vegan ice cream is a hot summer day must have. Im also currently obsessed with their wraps and cauliflower taboule. Tell me your favorites?

The Juice is located in Highland Park, Atwater and Sherman Oaks. 

Photos by Lauren Moore