In my last post, we took a look at how juice is made by the commercial juice industry. We cleared up that juice itself isn’t bad for you but its nutritional value and quality can greatly vary depending on how it’s made. Judging by the comments and messages I’ve received since then from readers, it was a rough week for juice lovers.
It can be a tad discouraging to discover something you thought was doing your body good might not have been so great after all. It’s also disappointing to see the dishonesty that is sometimes present within the food industry. But don’t despair, juice lovers. This week, I want to encourage you by sharing a company I’ve discovered who is striving to change the game by producing honest, high-quality juice and organic products.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I only recommend products or businesses I have tried or believe would be beneficial. All opinions expressed are my own honest thoughts.
I first discovered Clean Juice at a street fitness fair where they had a booth set up and samples of some of their juices. I was so intrigued by their mission and the products that I simply had to visit the store. That’s where I had the opportunity to sit down with owner Anna Yau to learn more.
Clean Juice is an organic juicing company founded out of Charlotte, North Carolina by creators Kat and Landon Eckles. Since its founding in 2015, the family-owned, faith-based business has expanded to a franchise operation with over 100 locations, creating new jobs in 16 states. And in 2017, Anna opened the doors of her very own shop right here in Lexington, South Carolina.
“The more [we] found out about Clean Juice, the more we liked it,” shared Anna, owner of Clean Juice Lexington Square. “My husband and I decided we were going to be crazy and open up a store.” During the process of deciding where to open their own location, they were drawn to Lexington from the passion the city exhibited for healthy living and organic nutrition. “People were wanting something like this, but it wasn’t here yet.” On December 24th, the Yau family began a brand new adventure and officially opened the doors of Clean Juice Lexington Square.
Breaking the Organic Mold
One of the things about this company that attracted me was their commitment to quality and transparency. Each location is designed with an open layout to allow customers to see exactly what goes into their order. You won’t find any additives, concentrates or mystery ingredients in their back room (I know because they let me snoop around). What you see is what you get and everything is made to order right in front of you with fresh ingredients.
Clean Juice is also a certified organic business. Like we learned in my last post, numerous companies in the food industry are throwing around terms like “natural” or “organic” quite deceptively. So what does it mean to be “certified organic”?
All Clean Juice locations are certified through the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). “They [CCOF] actually come in annually and audit each one of the stores and they check how we track all of our produce,” shared Anna. “We have to have documentation from all of our vendors that show how they have sourced organic products. Only vendors who can prove that they use organic products are ones that we use, and at the same time, we track every aspect of everything that comes into our store. You can look at the bananas that went into someone’s smoothie today and say that came from this invoice, that came from this vendor,” she continued. “We make sure there’s no question or doubt. We stand up to scrutiny when it comes to being organic.”
Catering to Different Diets
Allergies and food sensitivities are a growing struggle among many Americans (myself included). Eating out can become challenging when you’re worried about problematic ingredients. Because Clean Juice makes things fresh to order, nearly every item on their menu can be customized on the spot.
“If someone has a food allergy and needs something made without a certain product or just doesn’t like the taste of [an ingredient] then they can swap it out for anything.” Anna and her staff also regularly customize orders to accommodate vegan diets or programs like the Whole30. “We just try to make everything fresh, everything customizable,” she explained. The store also offers gluten-free toast and granola options.
“Someone came in the other day [and] she was so excited [and said] “I think I can eat here!”” Anna said, recalling a customer with a peanut allergy. “We’re a peanut-free store, so we don’t have any peanuts, or peanut oils or peanut products in there. Everything we do is almond butter and almond milk. She was ecstatic when I said we don’t use peanuts. Then I went in the back and pulled out the almond butter so she could read the ingredients and just took the time to go through that with her.”
What’s on the Menu
The first time I walked into Clean Juice Lexington Square, I was dazzled by the volume of options on their menu. Juices, smoothies, organic coffee, protein smoothies, acai bowls, oatmeal bowls and mouth-watering almond and avocado toasts. I probably stood there for 10 minutes just debating what to try first. (I went with “The Mangos ‘N Cream” protein smoothie, which was delicious.)
In addition to their regular menu, Clean Juice also offers a seasonal menu. “It’s all about produce,” said Anna. “So some things are not in season and we’re not going to ship it from halfway across the world for it not to be fresh at all and then serve it to you.” The seasonal menu currently featured was released in June and is full of all things fresh this summer, like the “Freedom” and “Watermelon” Acai bowls, a “Creamsicle” protein smoothie and their custom summer juice blend. My favorite item from the summer menu would easily have to be the watermelon acai bowl.
Cold Press Juice
The other main staple Clean Juice is known for is their selection of bottled cold press juices and wheatgrass and athlete juice shots. After our last discussion about juice, you might be turned off from the idea of any store-bought juice in general. But cold press juice is different and doesn’t utilize the same processing steps as commercial juices.
The big difference is that it is not pasteurized. Pasteurization is often upheld as the gold standard of food safety for anything with a shelf life. As a result, many people are concerned about consuming unpasteurized products.
But part of the problem some 21st-century nutrition advocates have begun pointing out is that while pasteurization does greatly extend the viable shelf-life of a product, it also strips it of many of the original nutrients. Is there some risk of consuming fresh, unpasteurized juice? Like anything else in our diet, certainly. But you also take the risk of contracting a foodborne illness any time you eat a fresh vegetable or piece of fruit. So there’s been a pushback against the demonization of unpasteurized products in recent years, with many people safely making the switch to unpasteurized juices and dairy products.
Clean Juice is an advocate for anyone with concerns or medical conditions to first check with their doctor, particularly pregnant women or individuals with diabetes. But they also stand by their dedication to provide safe, high-quality products for their customers. Anna herself can testify to the quality of Clean Juice products from her own life journey. “I juiced and worked at Clean Juice and opened a Clean Juice while I was pregnant and had no issues,” said the mother-of-four. “You’re not going to stop eating whole carrots because you’re pregnant, and that carrot wasn’t pasteurized.”
As the name implies, cold press juice is made without the application of heat used in pasteurization. “We use a machine called a cold press that uses just extreme amounts of pressure instead of any kind of heat to extract the juice,” explained Anna. “That way it doesn’t break down the [vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and enzymes]. It keeps it all intact.” Once bottled, the cold-pressed juice will then have a shelf life of five days. “When we press them, we go ahead and write the date that you need to drink them by on the bottle. We want to make sure we can actually ensure the nutritional value of it, so after that date, we don’t sell it.” Anna and her team cold press quite regularly to keep up with the demand of their bottled juices practically flying off the shelf.
In addition to their shelved juices, Clean Juice is well-known for their take-home juice cleanses. Customers can partake in one of the five juice cleanses, from their “Juice ‘Til Dinner” cleanse all the way up to their 5-day full juice cleanse. And like everything else in the store, their cleanses are fresh to order.
“When someone orders a cleanse, we go ahead and schedule it,” explained Anna. Customers decide what date they would like to do their cleanse, then call or drop by the shop to place their order in advance. “We know what day they’re gonna pick it up, what day they’re going to start their cleanse and then we press juice to make sure that it’s fresh for them.” Then it’s as easy as stopping by the shop and picking it up for the big day.
“Our cleanse I think is really set apart from other juice cleanses for two reasons. One, because it’s organic and the other because we actually include protein,” said Anna, which is relevant since many of her customers still want to exercise during their cleanse. “You wouldn’t necessarily want to go all out, but having protein in it [helps ensure] you’re not going to be breaking down muscle because you’re not getting any protein.”
I had the opportunity to do the Clean Juice 1-day cleanse. Stay tuned, because I’ll which will be writing more about in an upcoming post about my full cleanse experience. For now, I will just say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am even considering making it part of my monthly or bi-monthly nutrition routine. It was an entirely different experience than the juice cleanse catastrophy of my high school days that I mentioned in my last post (which I attempted most unfortunately with commercial store-bought juice.) While I’ll be going into all the full details in a future post, I can tell you that I would highly recommend it.
If you’re interested in checking out Clean Juice Lexington Square, be sure to check out their Facebook page or swing by their location. This month, through the end of July, they’re running a special discount deal on their cleanses with $10 off per day ($10 off the 1-day cleanse, $20 off the 2-day cleanse, and so on). They also offer a group discount of 10% off cleanses when ordered together in sets of 15 or more. So through the end of July, you could get together with a group of buddies at your gym, neighborhood or office and do a juice cleanse together as a team!
Their summer deal is going on at all locations nationwide, so even if you don’t live near Clean Juice Lexington Square, try checking out the Clean Juice main website and using their store locator to find the location nearest to you!
In a world of deceptive advertising and sometimes questionable practices within the food industry, Clean Juice is a breath of fresh air. I can’t wait to share more about my experience trying their juice cleanse. Until then, you can catch me in their shop, gorging myself on watermelon acai bowls and protein smoothies.
All writing copyright © 2018 Rachel Elise Weems Woods with photos contributed with permission by Clean Juice Lexington Square and Suzanne Myers.