Here are the things I know about juice.
1. Juice is delicious.
2. Juice makes me feel good.
3. The fact that I feel good after drinking juice is almost certainly psychosomatic.
4. Protein powder is disgusting.*
5. Cleaning the juicer sucks.
My boyfriend and I bought a Jack LaLanne juicer (this one) about a year ago, because we like juice but we don't like 9000 grams of sugar first thing in the morning. It's not a fancy juicer, but it suits our purposes. Produce goes in, juice comes out (then juice goes into us, and...other stuff comes out). We drink juice pretty much every day, except on days when we run out of beets or when we're sick of cleaning the goddamn juicer. I didn't realize we were part of a burgeoning craze or a turf war—and I really didn't realize we were dabbling in the supernatural. We just really like juice.
But according to the New York Times yesterday, juice is a Fucking Thing. And the juice wars are intense.
Spend a little time chatting with the rising juice lords of New York and Los Angeles, and you will hear terms like HPP, live enzymes and detoxing. You’ll also hear variations on these themes: no one else’s juice is as fresh as ours, or as organic, or soulful, or healthful.
Many of those claims are hard to back up with science. (Magically cleaning out your insides? Your body already knows how to do that.) Still, nutritionists do not deny that fresh juice can help deliver the vegetables and fruits — albeit without some useful and lovely fiber — that many Americans seem determined to avoid.
Yeah. Um. Unless you bought your juice from Severus Snape's Jûs Barre & Fungeon-Dungeon, grinding all the fiber out of your fruits and vegetables and then drinking their sweet nectar is pretty obviously—and I'm saying this as a juice fan—NOT a magic fucking potion for optimum health. There are some vitamins in there, sure, and you can throw in some protein powder if you like chewy silt milkshakes and also you hate me, but, you know, it's still just juice. So why would so many people be telling us that cold-pressed juice is the only way to effectively launder your toxin-laden back passage, when that's clearly false based on basic medical science? Well, I have a guess...
“We’re talking some serious dollar signs here,” said Danielle Charboneau, 29, who in 2010 started Juice Maids, a delivery service in Los Angeles that she merged early this year withJuice Served Here, a forthcoming chain of shops. “That’s why everyone is getting into the juice business, because in five years they want to sell the business for a hundred million bucks.”
The reason so many people want you to drink juice is that people pay lots of money for juice. People pay lots of money for anything, in fact, that promises quick, easy health fixes. Jack LaLanne's rakish grin on the front of my juicer box isn't without significance. LaLanne was hawking juicers decades ago, and plenty of people brought juicers home intending to become body-building super-grandpas overnight—only to abandon the messy, clunky things after four or five uses.
What sets our current juice obsession apart, I suppose, is that now you can stroll over to the juice shop and pay $6 for 12 ounces of vegetable water rather than misting every inch of your kitchen with stanky drops of broccoli effluvium. Which is fine and good, until you remember that $6 is SIX FUCKING DOLLARS. That's so many dollars! I mean, if you're rich enough to buy one juice-bar juice every day, and then you stopped drinking juice and saved that money for an entire year, you'd have enough money to open your own juice bar and rip people the fuck off!
I guess my take on the modern juice craze is this: IT'S JUICE. It's delicious! It's good for you! It's better for you than the juice you buy at the store, but it's not as good for you as just eating that whole pile of raw, soon-to-be-juiced vegetables would be. It's just juice, magic isn't real, and if you feel high afterwards it's because you want to feel high. As my boyfriend put it, "I know a lot about drinking juice and I know a lot about getting high, and the two are not related."
In conclusion, somebody please bring me some juice.
*Etymological Fact: Did you know that the term "protein powder" is actually derived from an Old English phrase meaning "juice ruiner"?
Image via Yeko Photo Studio/Shutterstock.