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Juicing Q & As

A year ago July, our family started juicing. Started because it was the next “right fit” for us. We’d been at the Vitamix thing for over a decade. We’d been a part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for four years where we were picking up farm produce once a week. We’d completely purged our pantry of condensed soups, packaged crackers, chips and, to a few (“wha??? you can’t do that”s) stopped buying store-bought cereal. We ditched fast food before the kids were born, and haven’t had a coffee or a soft drink between us for ten or so years.

But.

We didn’t get this boring all at once. Heh. We took our time.

Which is why we’ve eased into this juicing thing and allowed it to become more of a lifestyle for us and less of a just a cool idea.

Since writing about why we juice, (which is here, if you’re interested. http://www.ihadadreamaboutsleep.com/2013/08/07/why-we-juice/) people have asked some great questions. So what follows is just that. Questions…and clarity. Hopefully.

1. I’ve always heard that the fiber in fruits and vegetables is good for us. So why would we want to get rid of the fiber and just drink the juice? Doesn’t our body need that fiber?

A. Our bodies do need fiber. And the fiber IS a good thing. If we’re eating raw fruits and vegetables daily, then we’re likely getting enough fiber. What juicing does, though, is provide a much greater nutrient density. Most people’s digestion is so poor from years of eating food that is devoid of nutrients, that their bodies can no longer break down vegetables and extract the full extent of their nutrients. Which is where juicing can help. Because juicing isn’t asking a lot from the gut, the body has a better chance of absorbing the nutrients it needs.

What happens in our Standard American Diet is that our food is stripped of nutrients by processing. At one time brown rice and brown bread were associated with the poor, the stuff only farmers and peasants ate. And so we started processing our food and stripping it of its nutrients so that it looked white instead of brown.

Since the food companies are aware that all the nutrients have been taken out of our food, they do what they call “enriching” the food. The deception is that many people think that they’re getting great quantities of nutrients when they buy something that says it’s “enriched” (i.e. Vitamin fortified; Vitamin A and D added, etc.) But what it’s really like is having a ten dollar bill, (your reserve nutrient density in your body) getting beat up by an attacker (eating processed food–white bread, white rice, etc.) who then runs off with your ten dollars, (whatever nutrients your body had) but in leaving turns around and tosses five pennies your way (nutrients added back into your food). This begs the question. Do you feel enriched?

2. If I’m already eating a bunch of fruits and vegetables, why would I need to juice?

A. I used to wonder the same. But what I realize now is that so little of our food has any nutrients at all–even our fruits and vegetables. And why that is is because our soils are so depleted.  We might be buying organic groceries, but an organic stalk of celery can only pull from the soil what’s already in the soil. And if that soil’s got nothing, well…neither does my celery. So when I juice, I’m gleaning from my produce as many nutrients as I can.

3. Does the type of juicer matter?

A. It might. But I don’t know. I just know that ours is an older model. One with an auger that spins and compresses the food slowly, such that when the pulp is extracted, we don’t have much other than damp crumbs. There’s nothing left to squeeze. We’ve got a friend whose juicer looks completely different from ours and she runs her food through twice to extract as much as possible. That sounds like work to me. I guess what I’d take into consideration when shopping for a juicer is how easy or involved it is to set up and clean up. If the process is miserable, you probably won’t use it long. Take the time to read the reviews others have written about the product you may be considering. Because there is lots to consider–cost, function, ease of use, time to set-up/clean up, warranty, etc.

4. Do you really have to juice every day to see any benefit?

A. Well. That depends on what you’re after. Let’s say I want to get stronger by lifting weights. But I only want to lift weights once a week. Will I still get stronger? Sure.  But what I’ll need to understand is that my progress or my results will come much more slowly than if I lifted three times a week or even daily. It’s similar with juicing. There is benefit every time I juice. But if I’m sporadic with my juicing, I may notice nothing. Ever.

We were three weeks into juicing when I realized a change had occurred. And it was subtle. I didn’t suddenly feel healthier. But I did suddenly realize that somehow at some time I’d lost interest in hanging out in our pantry for something to eat. I also wasn’t thirsty. It was as if my body was becoming satiated and was finally getting what it needed.

5. Does juicing help you lose weight?

A. Maybe. Any time we make a positive change in our diets–limit fast food, cut back on bread, drink water, eat a vegetable or two, our body responds. Which is why most diets work for a period of time; people are consciously making better decisions about what they eat. Juicing may lead to weight loss. But I would not begin juicing for that sole purpose. We juice because it’s a practical way to get nutrients into our body. And because it is our next “right thing.”

6. Where is the best place to get organic fruits and vegetables?

A. If you can grow your own vegetables, grow your own. If you’ve got access to a local farmer and can become a part of their CSA, try it out for a season. If you know of farmer’s markets in your area, buy there. You can also order online at places like Azure Standard that carry organic produce and just about anything you can imagine. But if your best bet is a grocery store that carries organic produce, begin there.  For our family, we rely on all these options. We dream of the day we can just grow all of our own.

7. What do you do with the leftover pulp?

A. We toss our pulp directly into our compost pile. We don’t use it for anything else. We look forward to one day tossing it out to a few happy chickens.

I have heard that some add the pulp back to their baked goods–into things like zucchini or banana bread. But I’ve not tried this.

8.Do your kids actually drink the juice?

A. Yep. And they usually like it. Some juices taste better than others. When we use a lot of carrots and celery, the juice is noticeably sweeter. When we add more greens like kale and chard, it definitely helps to have those carrots or oranges in there. I made one doozer of a drink last summer, and neither child has let me forget it. In fact, they’ll drink anything–anything, so long as they know I haven’t thrown a bunch of cabbage in it. And they were right…it was bad.

9. Is juicing better than making smoothies?

A. I suppose that’s like asking which is healthier–running or swimming? There are benefits in both. We still make smoothies often. However, I put in far fewer vegetables, if any, in our smoothies. Most of our smoothies are loaded with fruit and chia seeds, and end up tasting like dessert. So for us, smoothies aren’t a substitute for juicing. They’re more like an alternative to ice cream.

10. Do you juice on vacation?

A. No. When we leave town, we leave our juicer at home. We try to pick up the slack by finding farmer’s markets or local produce as best we can. And sometimes that works. Sometimes not. We just climb back into our juicing routine when we get home. And usually with more enthusiasm.

So. What now?

Well…

If juicing sounds like a fit for you now, go for it! And if doesn’t, be okay knowing that this may not be your “next right thing.”  Juicing or not juicing isn’t about guilt. It’s about getting nutrients back into our tired bodies. And some of us are readier to do that now. That’s all.

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One Response to “Juicing Q & As”

  1. Nikki C. says:

    Thanks for this. I also recently started juicing, so this answered some questions. 🙂

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