If you haven’t heard, cold-pressed juice is the next biggest trend for this year. With everyone from health fanatics to trendy food snobs hopping on the juice train for its apparent benefits, some people are scratching their heads and wondering, “what exactly is cold-pressed juice?”
Here’s how it works: a hydraulic press crushes and then presses the fruit and vegetables. Then the juice is bottled, sealed and put in a large chamber, which fills with water and applies a crushing amount of pressure to inactivate pathogens. Just as the name suggests, the pressed fruits and vegetables extract the maximum amount of nectar from the pulp and fiber, leaving the rawest form of juice available.
While it makes sense that a cold-pressed juice would be healthier than conventional juice bought at convenience or grocery stores, it still seems like not everyone knows the cold, hard facts about cold-pressed juice. I did some exploring at three different cold-press juice bars, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to ask them to set apart fact from fiction.
”A lot, actually. Most conventional store-bought juices take six to 12 months from ‘juicing’ to pasteurization, then storage,” Aly Shoom, Chief Nutritionist of Smash Juice Bar shares with me. “Pasteurization is a process whereby something destined for human consumption (like juice, for example) is brought to a very high temperature for a short period of time, and then immediately cooled down. During this process, chemicals are applied to all produce being used in a juice to ensure bacteria does not form during packaging. This heat is used to eliminate harmful bacteria but also removes several good bacterias in the process.”
Shoom continues, “Cold-pressed [juice] is much more expensive to make because it doesn’t use heat and has significantly more vitamins and enzymes. As a result of zero-heat extraction, ‘cold-pressed’ juice preserves valuable enzymes and vitamins for up to three days, which explains why cold-pressed juices have such a short shelf-life.” Typically speaking, a cold-pressed juice can take anywhere from 12-24 hours from sourcing to juicing to bottle.
When you’re picking up a juice (cold-pressed or otherwise), the label may be difficult to understand, or just downright deceptive. Just because a label might contain certain words like “all-natural” or “100% juice” doesn’t necessarily mean its just that. Brooke Lundmark, Head of Nutrition at Greenhouse Juice Co., says, “All-natural is a term that I think people need to lose just because everything in the world is all natural.” Since there have been some disputes in the US recently regarding the terms all-natural and 100% natural juice, I asked Lundmark what she would recommend to customers walking into a juice bar for the first time. “The two most important things to look for on the label is something that mentions that it is 100% organic,” she says. “Also, be sure to find a listing of the ingredients in the bottle and make sure those are the only ingredients in the bottle. Sometimes juice bars will not list ingredients that have been added in smaller quantities.” Other handy things to look out for? A best-before date, as most cold-press juice has a shelf-life of 72 hours, and ensure you check with the staff how the juice should be stored at home (if it’s not on the label already), as most juices must be refrigerated almost immediately after purchase.
Ilich Mejia, courtesy of Greenhouse Juice Co.
While cold-pressed juice is super tasty, most people don’t know that one eight-ounce cup of cold-pressed juice can contain twice as many calories as a cup of raw veggies. Yep, it’s true. All three juice bars I spoke to did not refute this claim, but suggested how people grabbing a juice should make an informed decision on what they are putting into their body. Karen Parucha, Marketing Manager and Cara, on-site nutritionist for Village Juicery, talked me through why that was. “It takes more fresh produce to make an eight-ounce cup of juice than it does to eat a big salad. While it depends on the juice that you’re drinking, generally speaking, that is the reason.” For many, though, who are walking in without being informed, they are using a cold-pressed juice as a meal replacement or a way to cut back on calories.
Aly Shoom from Smash Juice Bar shares, “We recommend (to all our customers) maintaining a balanced diet between eating fruits and vegetables, and drinking them. This way, customers can retain valuable nutrients without replacing one for the other.”
So really, what’s the deal? I have seen so many of my friends going through juice cleanses recently and all I can think is, “Is that safe? Aren’t they hungry?” And I sense like I’m not alone in these feels. Brooke Lundmark of Greenhouse Juice Co., tells me, “There are so many different ways to cleanse, but juice cleanses are really for allowing your digestive system to take a break.” She explained to me that through a cleanse, juices provide the body with high-quality nutrients it needs, and therefore, people undergoing a cleanse will gain energy from that.
Scott Norsworthy, courtesy of Greenhouse Juice Co.
However, Cara, the on-site nutritionist from Village Juicery (she goes by simply Cara, by the way), says they rather than offering a cleanse, they offer what they describe as a reset program. “What we’re trying to do is give everyone the opportunity to meet with one of our nutritionists and talk about what your intentions are for a reset program and then, we’ll take into consideration if you’ve done a cleanse before and plan something for you.” With a reset program, customers are still able to eat plant-based foods on specific days, giving them more freedom. So if you’re cleansing or resetting your body, it seems like this process can be safe, if handled under the proper supervision of a professional.
Well, it does have a lot of health benefits. With the promises of glowing skin, clearer mindset, greater energy and more, it’s no wonder the juice trend (according to the LA Times) is a $100 million a year business. Drinking juice is the most natural and quickest way to increase your consumption of raw fruit and vegetables. Aly Shoom of Smash Juice Bar adds, “For many people, eating the right amount of greens is a struggle: cold-pressed green juice provides a powerful nutrient blast to the bloodstream in one bottle.” With so many people on the go nowadays, picking up a cold-pressed juice is a quick and easy way to add more fruits and vegetables into your life while reaping the benefits and rewards
If you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks (cold-pressed juice ain’t cheap, be aware) and you want to pack the most nutrients into your body as possible, then it might just be time to head on over to your local juice bar and do some more research into what is good for you and your body. Remember: ask questions, speak to their in-house nutritionist and read the label. No two juices are the same!
Amanda (Ama) Scriver is a full-time community builder and official ‘head bee in charge’ of the food, fat and feminism blog, Fat Girl Food Squad. When she isn’t busy kickin’ ass and takin’ names, she is having serious feels for all things coffee, hip-hop, the art of drag, Kardashians, pizza and Doritos. You can find more bylines from her at Eater, BizBash and Toronto is Awesome. Follow her on Twitter: @amapod.