A while back Lisa of 100 Days of Real Food did a brave thing and posted about juicing. Specifically, why she doesn’t juice. Or rather how her family borrowed a friend’s juicer for a week and gave juicing a trial run. Only to conclude that juicing is too expensive, takes too much time and has too little benefit for her family. You can read about it here:
What’s probably more valuable than the post itself are the 294 comments from people on every side of the issue. Some felt completely validated, agreeing word-for-word–too much time, too much work, etc. A friend of mine even posted Lisa’s link to facebook with an “AMEN” attached.
Juicing had obviously struck a nerve.
But there were also testimonies of some who did not disagree with cost and clean-up, but wanted to make sure others heard that juicing had turned their health around. They felt more alive. Had more energy. Were sick less often.
For what it’s worth…here’s our juicing story. Why we juice.
Twelve years ago, we bought our first Vitamix at the Puyallup Fair. Vitamix. Not juicer. Seven years to the month of its warranty, the bearings on the pitcher started to whine like an ambulance siren and after two weeks of grabbing our ears, we said, “enough” and bought another. Another pitcher. At the time, our Vitamix wasn’t just the most expensive appliance on our counter; it was a commitment to eating better. Or at least to slurping a lot more smoothies.
Twelve years ago had the juicing craze been as publicly popular as the Vitamix advertisements, I think we’d have been confused. Which do we buy? A juicer? Or a Vitamix?
And I think the answer’s simple. You buy a Vitamix or a Blendtec or another really quality blender. And you start introducing yourself to fruits and vegetables.
Because juicing isn’t for everyone.
Or rather, juicing IS for everyone. But not everyone is ready for juicing. Or the commitment of juicing.
You see. In our garage for umpteen years had been a juicer that was used by my sister-in-law–possibly twice–in some other decade and then given to my husband. A few years back, having never even opened the thing, we tried to get rid of it in a yard sale, but like us, no one wanted it. We clearly weren’t ready for it. And we certainly didn’t recognize its value.
In July of last year, I started fumbling with the juicer’s manual and wondering how we were going to watch the VHS when we didn’t have a VCR.
What had changed was our readiness. Without having “juicing” in mind, we’d done things to prepare ourselves to juice. Like joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), where we pay up front to pick up a share (as it’s called) of vegetables and fruit from a local farmer every week in the summer and part of the fall. And we’d begun our own garden. So our problem wasn’t finding produce. Our problem was what to do with all the produce falling off our counter.
And so I committed to juicing.
Committed. As in, did not dabble with juicing for a week and conclude it did not work. Rather, it became my labor of love. Emphasis on labor. And we’re still at it a whole year later.
Here’s what I’ve noticed.
1. Juicing Takes Time–as much as I look forward to bringing home our farm produce on Tuesday afternoon, a part of me shudders at the half hour I spend standing at the sink and washing it all. Thirty minutes. Washing produce picked that day. Pathetic. I know.
Then from set-up to clean-up, juicing takes 15 to 20 minutes. Every. Time. And it’s all by hand—the juicing and the cleaning. Some parts (like the little screen on ours) have to be scrubbed with a toothbrush. And after a week of this, I can see how most would bail on the account of clean-up alone.
2. The Cost. Yep. There’s always a cost. But every one of us gets to pick the form in which we’ll pay. Our food. Or our health. And for our family, we’ve chosen our food. It is dollars upon dollars cheaper (now) to buy Doritos and Twizzlers, white bread and milk, than it is to buy organic vegetables. And it’s hours more convenient to zip by the McDonald’s drive thru at the first pang of hunger than it is to prepare a meal at home. But eventually, the cost is irrelevant. We can pay cheaper now. And wonder wide-eyed why we’ve got things like Diabetes and weird gut pain later. Or we can pay now. And give our health a fair shake. Food is either our medication. Or the reason we’ll need medication.
3. Juicing isn’t a stand-alone meal. For the most part, we juice in the morning. And we juice in addition to breakfast. Those who say they are still hungry after juicing–only– aren’t lying.
4. I’m just not thirsty anymore. We were three weeks into juicing when I noticed. Noticed I was no longer thirsty. Noticed I wasn’t gulping large quantities of water at meal times or really any time. It’s as if my cells were finally quenched. The same still holds true.
5. Our tastes have changed. Prior to juicing, I must have flapped open the doors to the pantry every time I passed ’em, looking for something to eat–something that sounded good. What I’ve noticed in the last year is that I’m not trying to curb the munchies. They hardly exist. Same with cravings. But weirdly, when we miss a juice day or a whole juice week while we’re camping, my body misses that. It craves the juice.
Now, I couldn’t tell you a thing about the new juicers or how anybody else’s works, but here’s what it looks like when we juice.
In succession each of these pieces attaches to the other.
This first plastic piece is the feed spout and it fastens right into the motor.
Next is the auger, which presses into the motor as well. When the juicer is running, this piece spins slowly, grabbing the food coming down the spout. The food is then pressed into the screen piece and then further squeezed before being forced out the small hole at the end.
This is what it looks like all set up. The box-like container will catch the juice; the red bowl will catch the pulp, and the green pusher will help us cram it all down the spout.
Here’s what we’re juicing today. Carrots, parsley, kale, chard, beet greens, a beet, an orange (peeled), celery and rhubarb.
Juicing got a whole lot less complicated when I decided to store all the produce together.
All right. Here’s a piece of the orange winding its way out.
And more carrot.
And here’s my helper.
Because of the way the food is pressed and spun and wrung out, the fiber comes out in dry spirals. When you pick it up, it merely crumbles.
Sometimes juicing takes a few muscles.
But when the last leaf’s been shoved down the chute, we’re left with this.
And the juice…
This purplely stuff.
Which always tastes better than it looks.
And goes down smoothly with a straw.