Juicing at home: our family’s story

June 13, 2011

A few months ago, our family was hit with sickness.  Everyone except Trent had a runny nose, which then led to ear infections.  And although Trent was spared ear pain, he had his own share of problems because he was fighting pneumonia.  We were a pretty sad bunch.  While vegetating on the couch one afternoon during this time of sickness, we saw an infomercial for a juicer.

We didn’t have to be convinced that the benefits to juicing are extensive, but I will highlight some of the major benefits here:

-You know exactly what is in the juice.

-You know it is fresh and the vitamin/nutrient content is at its peak (nutrients are lost as soon as the juice begins to age).

-Because it is lacking fiber, your body does not need to spend energy on digestion and is instead able to allow the tissues to receive the beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals more quickly through the blood stream.

In the past, I allowed my kids to drink a lot of store-bought juice.  Because I was careful to buy 100% juice while steering clear of the vibrent rainbow colored juice cocktails, punches and juice drinks, I really didn’t see any problem.

However, I have since changed my thoughts and believe that fruit juice purchased in the store is not nearly as healthy as I had once thought.  Here are some of the reasons why:

-Store bought juice is often not organic therefore I believe that the pesticides used on the fruit are passed on in a more concentrated form though the juice.

-The juice has been pasteurized meaning it has been heated up to a temperature of 185-201.2 degrees.  This heating process greatly diminishes the natural nutrient content found in the fruit.

-The juice is old: meaning it was made, then bottled and then has been sitting on the shelf waiting to be bought, which once again, reduces the nutrient content.

-In addition, it is my understanding that at least in the beginning many juice companies used their lower quality fruit for juicing since the visual blemishes are not seen.  I don’t know to what degree this has changed over time but I like being able to see the fruit I am going to drink.

Alissa Hamilton, author of Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, states: “In the process of pasteurizing, juice is heated and stripped of oxygen, a process called deaeration, so it doesn’t oxidize. Then it’s put in huge storage tanks where it can be kept for upwards of a year. It gets stripped of flavor-providing chemicals, which are volatile. When it’s ready for packaging, companies such as Tropicana hire flavor companies such as Firmenich to engineer flavor packs to make it taste fresh. People think not-from-concentrate is a fresher product, but it also sits in storage for quite a long time…

Nutritionist and blogger Lauren from Diary of  Nutritionist says in her blog post “How Healthy is that Juice?” that, “After the pasteurization process, the brightly packaged juices, the ones that can sit for an eternity on the shelves of every market, are about as rich in nutrients as a pack of “natural” gummy worms. And that ain’t saying much.  In other words– we are left with sugar.  Lots and lots of sugar.  Fructose, the kind of sugar that is found naturally in fruit and vegetables, is fine in moderation when consumed R-A-W. This is because the live enzymes and nutrients that chaperon the sugar, offer the body much needed nourishment, and help the body to break down and assimilate itself, all the while, nourishing the body.  Fruit and vegetables juices, that are freshly pressed, are quite possibly one of the most hydrating, nourishing and healing drinks you can consume.”

For these reasons, I now offer water or raw milk to my kids when they are thirsty as default options. They do still drink bottled juice on occasion, but it is no longer a standard option.

We already own (and LOVE) a Vita-Mix and although we eat (and drink) a lot of fresh fruit, we don’t consume enough vegetables on a regular basis.  The idea of drinking our veggies seemed doable however with the help of a juicer so we started an investigative search to determine the juicer that would best suit our needs.  We were pleased to discover some helpful YouTube videos that compared and contrasted several popular juicer brands and finally decided on an Omega VRT 350 (although if you are looking for a less expensive alternative I would suggest going in with a friend or family member and taking advantage of the current buy one get one free special offered on the Jack LaLanne website (one juicer costs about $99.99 plus shipping)).  Since our juicer arrived, we have transitioned into a new routine.  In the morning our kids take turns feeding the fruit and veggies (currently we have been doing a combination of apples, oranges, strawberries and carrots) into the juicer.  Having been a part of the process, they are excited to enjoy the fruits (and veggies :) ) of their labor.  As the growing season progresses, we will enjoy experimenting with more juicing combinations and I will transition into offering easy and delicious homemade popsicles made straight from the juicer or Vita-Mix.

Where I get my produce:
-Carrots (I buy the large 10 lb bags of organic carrots at Costco): $5.49
-Apples (when possible I buy organic apples from Azure as that seems to be the best price but when I run out I also buy from Costco): $1.00/lb-$1.25/lb
-Oranges (non organic from Costco): $8.49-8.99 for a box
-Strawberries (frozen from Costco): not sure on the price, sorry (however, I realize that berries are a food that if at all possible should be eaten organically so we are extending our garden this year to include some strawberry plants).

A bonus is that our new chickens love to eat the fruit pulp produced when we juice each day!

Want a reminder about which foods are best to buy organic, read here.

What about you?  Do any of you own a juicer?  What brand did you buy?  What do you like about juicing?  What are your thoughts on store-bought juice (feel free to disagree with me)?

Believe it or not I had intended to write about a homeopathic ear oil when I started this post but I ended up going in a different direction!  You can look for the ear oil recipe next Monday :) .

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