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You see them all over the place these days. From hard-core vegans to women in matching Lululemon gear with yoga mats under their arms to men wearing business suits to parents with kids in strollers, those plastic bottles with brightly colored cold-pressed juices are becoming ubiquitous in Broward County.
That wasn't the case just over a year ago.
Juicing isn't exactly new, though its current ubiquitous status is. Cold-pressed juices have been used by raw foodists and Hollywood celebrity types who have touted the physical and health benefits of juice cleanses for decades. Enthusiasts claim the cleanses detoxify and purify the body. The cold-press method involves crushing and then pressing the produce to get the highest yield as well as the maximum amount of enzymes and nutrients, whereas other juicing methods can also heat the juice, supposedly destroying some of the precious particulates.
While many are skeptical about sustaining themselves on just liquids for days on end, somewhere along the line, the general solid-food-eating public caught on to the idea of incorporating high-quality juices into daily routines — and it's turning into a big business.
On November 30, Myapapaya Juicery and Kitchen celebrated its one-year anniversary; it was the first local brick-and-mortar cold-press juicery to set up shop in Broward County — after just a short time in business, the whole foods eatery had to quadruple its staff.
Adam Kanner, chef/owner of Myapapaya, has seen the growth firsthand.
"At first, people had an issue with paying $10 for a juice," he said. "Now I get so many people thanking me all the time for being here. It's become trendy and hip to walk around with one of these bottles."
To keep up with demand, the restaurant runs its juicers for seven hours during the night to get ready for the morning.
Since its inception, many others have followed suit, including Boca Raton's Swami Juice and, most recently, 17th Street vegan and gluten-free hot-spot Green Bar and Kitchen, which started pressing and bottling cold-pressed juices in-house about three months ago.
"We've been doing fresh juices all along," said Green Bar chef/owner Charles Grippo. "Demand was starving for something in the 17th Street area; a crew would come in and buy ten to 15 bottles of cold-pressed juices at a time. We tried to use local sourcing and had great relationships with everyone in the industry, but buying from others is not like cooking your own food; you want to cook your own food."
While the cold-pressed juice trend has exploded in South Florida within the past year or so, it's been exponentially growing in cities like New York and Los Angeles for about the past half-decade.
One of the most widely recognized cold-pressed brands, Blueprint, launched in 2007 with a selection of juice cleanses. Now, using a High-Pressure Processing (HPP) technique that subjects the product to extreme pressure to inactivate harmful bacteria (and that opponents claim kills beneficial probiotics and enzymes), the company serves national retail outlets like Whole Foods with individual bottles of juice for around ten bucks apiece.
Although it was recently hit with a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York claiming that due to the HPP method of preserving its juices, the "raw" and "unpasteurized" designations on the label constitute false advertising, the company is still bringing in gross profits of upward of $20 million per year, and the numbers are growing.
Obviously, the trend is on the rise. But is it worth the hype?
Local registered dietitian Adrienne Bolten sees the benefits in the growing availability of juices and juice cleanses; however, she does not see it as a one-size-fits-all remedy.
"For people looking to restart their systems, a three-day cleanse or detox is not necessarily a bad thing," said Bolten. "Refocusing or restarting your system with good stuff is great, but beyond three days, it can be very difficult for people to sustain; it has a lot to do with psychology and people's readiness to make lifelong changes."
While Bolten sees juicing as a useful tool, she warns about the lack of fiber in the products.
"By taking the element of fiber out of our diets, we're setting our digestive tract up for disaster," said Bolten. "For the most part, when a fruit or vegetable is juiced, it's missing out on fiber. Three days is actually a pretty quick time frame; after that, I would suggest maybe juicing in the morning or as a snack and focus on whole foods for lunch and dinner, and definitely still be mindful of fiber."
Even so, Bolten thinks the convenience of pressed juices can offer a beneficial source of nutrients for those on-the-go, but she emphasizes sourcing locally for the highest nutritional density.
"I have a similar stance to juices as I do with food," said Bolten. "I always encourage my clients to source locally when possible."
Both Myapapaya (1040 Bayview Drive, Fort Lauderdale; 954-338-5651; myapapaya.com) and Green Bar and Kitchen (1075 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-533-7507; greenbarkitchen.com) will offer cleansing and dietary programs — with solid food incorporated — for the new year.