Juicing has gained a lot of popularity over the last five or so years. Cafes featuring freshly squeezed or pressed juice, however, this is not a new thing. So, why has juicing gained such a following NOW? I think a few things come into play: A) I believe people across the country are making more conscious choices when it comes to the food they are putting into their bodies, and B) juicing has been seen as a “quick fix” for those seeking weight loss. With celebrities speaking on behalf of their Brevilles and Hamilton Beach machines and how they’ve dropped the seven pounds before the red carpet in one week, no wonder this has been picked up by many.
But, what ARE the real benefits of juicing in the way of a detox? What are the real benefits of juicing regularly?
I wanted to get a closer look into the phenomenon of juicing from someone who has a very unique and personal perspective on the whole thing: A REAL, TRUE, entrepreneurial juicer. Someone who has not only participated in juicing regularly but sees it as a mission to spread to the public.
I decided to reach out in my community to see if anyone worth talking to would spare a few moments to talk about the health benefits of juicing to little ole me with my little Breville stories in tow. Surprisingly, one of my FAVORITE companies contacted me back almost immediately.
Fresh From the Farm Juice is an idea that hails from NYC and ultimately came to fruition in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. I met with juice entrepreneur, Ankit Goyal, to talk about his company’s story and mission and to also get the inside (and honest) scoop on why everyone should consider adding fresh-pressed juice to their lives.
Upon walking into Fresh From the Farm Juice located in Wexford, PA, you automatically feel at ease. The clean, sleek design lends itself to that “at home in my own kitchen” kind of feel. The space is bright and everyone is friendly. Their chalk boards boast of the varieties of juices plus a menu with foods inspired by raw elements.
Ankit himself is energetic and super-friendly. He offered me a juice to sip on during our chat which was appropriately called “The Healer” as I was trying to kick a cold. So eager was he to share his mission and ideas throughout our talk that at times I kind of forgot I was “interviewing” someone. It felt like a friendly chat with someone who is passionate about all they do. There is an ease in talking with someone who is very direct, passionate and happy with what they do.
I explained that I am an amateur and by no means had any idea what I was doing when it came to the interview. We both got a laugh out of that. The following conversation was fun, informative, and insightful. Ankit is truly an expert when it comes to not only juicing but small business practices and networking with his community. I hope you have as much fun reading this as I did putting it all together!
Fresh From the Farm Juice Visit Monday, March 9th, 2015
The Paisley Kitchen: I had already read a little bit about how juicing was somewhat ingrained in your childhood. Fresh juices were something you had on a regular basis as a kid, right? How were you first introduced to juicing in terms of large scale production?
Ankit Goyal: I’m originally from New York, and I graduated from law school in 2001. I started practicing law shortly after, and after about five years of practicing I kind of got tired of the life. It was kind of like an early mid-life crisis. My family is very entrepreneurial, and I had that itch as well. When I started to think about what it was I wanted to really do, I was like, “I think juicing is one of the greatest things.” What I had started experiencing when I started practicing law was that my diet just went down the tubes. I started eating really poorly. When you go out to these dinners, you get lured into it. You think, I guess I should be drinking, or I should be eating these fatty foods. You just do it. It got to this point where I just felt gross and felt like I couldn’t keep doing this. I started to change the way I was eating. So one of the first things I did was buy a Norwalk cold-press juicer. I had it in my house and I started making juices for myself, and I started to feel 100% better. Long story short, I wrote a business plan in 2008, and I started to circulate it around. Not even six months after doing that about six organic, raw, cold pressed juice places opened up. They beat me to the punch. Right around that time I met my wife. We starting sharing a lot of our own interests with each other and I shared juicing with her. What ended up happening was a few years later we got married and were still living in New York. I still wanted to do this, but it was costing too much money and costing too much time, and the truth of it was I wanted to be out of New York. I was sick and tired of the life. My wife approached me in summer of 2011 and said, “Why don’t we try this somewhere else?” I said, “Well, where?” and she said maybe in Latrobe (Ligonier) where most of her family still lives. We took a few trips in 2011 and 2012, and in mid-February of 2012 I was diagnosed with diverticulitis which is a severe ulcer. The doctors were confused because I was overall a very healthy person. I would talk about my eating habits and they would say, “We don’t know what this could be other than your job. Your job is causing you to suffer.” That was basically my wake up call. I decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I told my wife I was ready to make the move and she was excited. We picked up and uprooted our life in New York and made the move to Ligonier. We picked a spot on The Diamond in Ligonier and it was really, really small but a cool place. We actually still have that place. I was finally doing what I wanted to do, and what I noticed was that a lot of the people that were coming to purchase the juices were from Pittsburgh. Some of these people owned coffee shops or yoga studios and would say, “Hey, we want to buy these and sell them at our place.” So I decided to look into how I could make that happen. And what I discovered was that for the type of product that I had it would be a little bit difficult to get a wholesale license because of pasteurization. That is when I discovered the process of high-pressure-processing. HPP is when you take the bottles that have already been labeled and packaged and you place them in this large vessel. What it does is apply cold pressure that kills any bacteria that could have potentially grown (in 180 seconds) and because it’s not heated, our products remain raw. I applied for my license and was then approved. Places like Breathe Yoga Studio, Expresso A Mano, and Yoga Flow all started to carry our products. That’s when I decided we needed to find a place in Pittsburgh, and I opened up something in the Southside. It was amazing because it was everything I wanted to do in New York and it was happening here. In December 2013, we decided to move our location to Wexford after a client of ours showed us the perfect space here. We opened in July of 2014 at this current location. We’ve got plans to grow into the South Hills next!
TPK: You had mentioned living that lifestyle in New York City becomes so fast paced and it’s almost like you make unconscious choices of what you are eating and putting into your body and it really catches up with you. Sometimes it’s not even a thought anymore and you’re just ingesting.
AG: Exactly. You’re just eating.
TPK: So, keeping those things in mind, why the name Fresh From the Farm? Do you support local businesses or partner with local growers?
AG: When I first proposed the plan in New York, my only supplier was a distributor because there are no farms in NYC. When I came out here, it quite honestly changed my life. What I discovered was a bunch of farmers doing things I couldn’t have imagined. Growing up in New York you don’t get to see that, you just don’t know. When I started to venture out and see what was available I was blown away. They had everything I wanted! I wasn’t going to be charged mark-up because they weren’t distributed and it’s fresher because it’s not sitting in some warehouse. So I started thinking of the name, and my original company name was Lifestyle Juices. I started thinking about how I didn’t need a distributor anymore and I could get everything locally sourced. It was organic and it was there for me. So I starting thinking, “What am I actually selling?” Well, I’m selling “farm” juices, fresh from these farms. I decided I would call it Fresh From the Farm Juice and I stuck with that.
TPK: Well, I love it and it’s very representative of what you have here. I think, too, being able to source from what’s around you is taking a step in making those conscious decisions with what you’re eating. You see exactly where it’s coming from, you see the people who are working with it, and it makes you that much more connected to the community and what you’re doing for yourself.
AG: Yeah, and something you just said made me think of talking with some of the people from Clarion River Organics who I have been buying from since 2012. I had mentioned to them, “Hey, I want to introduce this to kids.” Basically I want kids to understand this: where their food comes from, how it’s transported, what the manufacturer is doing with it once they get it, and then how it’s distributed. I started calling different schools, and then I came across Kelsey Weisgerber who is the Food Director at the Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh. We met up and I talked about what I wanted to do and Kelsey said, “Yeah, let’s do this.” What we ended up doing was we took 70 6th and 7th grade students from the Environmental Charter School in three buses to Clarion River Organics. They picked their own beets, carrots, and other produce. They packed it up, and we brought it back in our refrigerated delivery van to show there is no contamination between meat and produce. We brought it back to our facility in the South Side and showed them what we did in terms of making the juice.
TPK: That is amazing! They got to see the whole process. That is basically a farm to table experience.
AG: Exactly! Well, I called it The Farm to Juice Tour.
TPK: That is so cool. I want you to come to my school now! So, you mentioned earlier that you are making “cold pressed” juice and you mentioned HPP. Is there a difference between the two?
AG: Cold pressed is the type of juicing. Essentially it’s a two step process. The first step is you put everything into a grinder and it goes into a press pack. Once it’s in the press pack, it’s squeezed together by two plates and all the juice comes out. The advantage of using a cold press opposed to a regular centrifugal juicer is there’s no heating going on. So with those types of juicers there’s a spinning feature that happens and it happens so fast that it causes heat. That heat can cause some of those live enzymes and nutrients to be lost. With cold pressed there is no heating going on at all. You save all of those essential nutrients. The other cool thing about cold pressed compared to centrifugal is that if you were to put an apple through the cold press juicer, you are getting 90-95% juice out of that apple. Put the same apple through a centrifugal juicer and you’re getting about 45% juice. I am by no way discouraging people to use centrifugal because home juicers definitely serve their purpose, but I’m just sharing what I know.
TPK: That’s a huge difference. I never would have known. So, I have a Breville at home and what I notice is that I get a lot of pulp. Would the cold press juicer reduce the amount of pulp I’m getting?
AG: Exactly, you basically get less pulp and ALL of the moisture and juice is removed from the fruit or vegetable. A lot less pulp and the pulp that does come out is just dry. The HPP I was talking about is just a form of removing bacteria from the product so we can safely sell it wholesale. There is an advantage to non-HPP products and it’s just that you’re getting more vitamins and nutrients because it’s fresher. It’s the freshest you can get. We juice six times a day.
TPK: Okay, so with cold pressed juicing, you’re getting more nutrients and vitamins. If someone were to first start out on a journey of juicing, what would you say are the benefits they’re going to get. Why do it? Why should people juice?
AG: Okay, so the first reason to juice is for dietary change. The immediate effect is your body is going to capture all of those nutrients and it’s going to improve your blood circulation. Improved blood circulation is literally going to make you eat better. The first thing that happens is live enzymes act as a wake up to your body. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. What I’ve noticed with cold pressed juicing is that it’s easy. It’s a liquid, and it’s not like you have to sit down and ingest the two and half pounds of produce that are in that particular bottle you’re drinking from right now. You’re going to enjoy it. That’s my whole thing: getting people to enjoy food in a really simple way. Simplicity. Ease, and you’re enjoying it. Hopefully it will jog you and get you to make those changes you have been wanting to make. It’s like a safety mechanism. I know if I falter (we’re human), I have that juice waiting there for me.
TPK: It is a really quick way to get the nutrients we need. A lot of people see juicing as a detox or cleanse. What are your thoughts on that? I know your company provides a cleanse program. Where would you say someone should start if they were interested in a juice fast or detox? I’ve done them myself and there are times where it goes really well for a few days but I then may hit a wall. Some of the side effects that some people feel are tiredness or fatigue. Are these things common or are they just not juicing correctly?
AG: Juice cleanse is a form of a detox. Now, everything that you said is very true. A lot of people when they embark on a cleanse experience similar things. It’s a new experience for your body, and it says, “Hey, this is something I’m not used to.” And when we go through that sometimes we have withdraw. Withdraw from coffee. Withdraw from sugar. Withdraw from nicotine..if you’re going to do it honestly. And it’s not easy. Sometimes it’s not. At the end of the day, what you get out of it is huge. The way we set up our program is we give you six juices a day. Our cleanses are focused on different vitamins, so each one of the juices that you get is giving you a different vitamin that is going to benefit you. Some juices focus on Vitamin B, some on Vitamin K, and so on. So the purpose of a juice cleanse is to get maximum vitamins. The question everyone should ask before they start their cleanse is, “What vitamins am I going to get out of this?” If you’re not getting an assortment of vitamins, it’s honestly not worth your time. Some of the good things that happen is you’re going to feel a lot more energetic after your cleanse. Some people feel it during the cleanse. The biggest thing that happens, I think, is that you regulate your body on a very comfortable pattern. Since you’re doing six juices, one every two hours, you’re regulating your eating habits. I usually recommend people start with a three day program since it may be something new for them. If you follow through with that pattern for those three days, ideally, your body is going to want to mimic that same pattern with food after your cleanse. Smaller meals, consistently throughout the day, keeping your body fluid and flushed. We’re taught to think those three meals throughout the day are what we need. However, grazing throughout the day is the way to go. That’s the number one thing the juice fast is going to do for you.
TPK: So it kind of resets you.
TPK: Great. Let’s say you complete the cleanse and you buy up some juice to keep around for after, how long does the juice last?
AG: Our juices [non HPP] are good for about seven days. Our longest cleanse is a six day program and they last the entire time. That’s actually a really great question because a lot of time people will complete a juice cleanse and I may not see them again. But, what I always say to them is, “That’s great, but what you should do after the cleanse is have at least one to two fresh juices a day.” Whether you’re buying them from me or making them at home, that’s the key. You do a cleanse, then go back to regular eating routines, then do a cleanse, then go back to eating whatever, it’s a constant up and down. You don’t get the most out of it. It’s like what you said, you’re resetting. And once you’re reset and feeling good you want to continue that. We have cooking seminars, some of which are free, for those who have completed cleanses and for those who haven’t to show the benefits of juicing and eating well. We want them to see how they can incorporate this into their diet and how it can lead them to their long term goals with their bodies. I want people to see that a cleanse can ultimately help them reinvent their diet and get them where they want to be.
TPK: Right. So it’s like a car: If you don’t perform the routine maintenance and just do big fixes every once in a while, you’re not necessarily taking the best care of your car. So the big question: Why not smoothies? I know there are some juicers out there who are totally against smoothies and then smoothie people who are totally against juicing. So what’s the difference?
AG: I do smoothies! I do both, and I think both are great. I am more of a juicing advocate I must say. But, I have one smoothie a day. Morning is the best time, actually. You’re getting all the fiber in the smoothie, and your body needs vegetable fiber. Now, if you’re going to have a smoothies with dates, bananas, strawberries you’re probably not getting a lot out of it. You need to get some greens in there. Natural fiber is a great thing for the body, but is it as beneficial as juices, no. Here’s a couple reasons. One, with a smoothie it takes anywhere from 10 to 14 hours for those nutrients to go into your bloodstream. They stay dormant. Let’s say you have a lot of fatty foods, cholesterol, and protein afterwards, those nutrients that would have gone into your body in 10 hours won’t go in at all. You’re impeding that nutrition from going into your body with that cholesterol. Now a juice, by comparison, those nutrients enter your blood stream within 10-15 minutes after drinking it. You could eat a cheeseburger and it will still go into your body. With juice, those nutrients are live and active. With a smoothie, they’re not. Do I still think it’s an important part of a diet? Absolutely. Everyone should have a smoothie as part of a healthy diet. If you’re going to do a smoothie, do one juice per day as well.
TPK: I wouldn’t have ever known about the delay! Thanks for sharing that. Wow. My last question kind of takes us back to the beginning. You had experienced the juices as a kid with your mom being the juicer there. Would you say that experience as a child has really influenced what you’re doing now?
AG: Oh, absolutely.
TPK: And, I actually read over on the wall in an article that you’ll ask your mom about certain mixes before they’re sold.
AG: (laughing) Yeah! I do!
TPK: Were there any mixes you had as a kid that are bottled here??
AG: Oh yeah. Quite honestly, the Restless Red (beets) is what I’ve been drinking since I was a kid. I think I may have altered the ratio of beets to apples a bit. That is almost to the core her recipe. I would then say The Works and Limey Green are really influenced by what she was doing. Even now when I come up with a new recipe, I still talk with her about it. She just knows.
TPK: That’s great. Before we end, are there any of your current products you would recommend to anyone or to those who are first starting out with juicing?
AG: I would say the Black and Yellow is a great place to start. It’s good and sweet. I really like that one. I use fresh lavender petals in that one when it’s available. The Healer is a great new one with kale, pear, wheatgrass but also a bit sweet.
TPK: I love The Healer (chugging it down) and I think this may be my new favorite. Those sound like great ones for newbies to start with. Wow, I’ve learned a lot here today and thanks once again for meeting with me.
AG: Thanks for stopping in!
I can honestly say I’m now hooked. I scuttled over to the large fridge and picked out my favorites. I drank three juices the following day and felt fantastic by the end of the day. My sniffles had dissipated. I shared my Green Delight with my 1st graders who were brave enough to drink a GREEN juice. We just started growing plants in my room from seed and I wanted them to see how the produce they grow could be used differently. Now, I just need the people from Fresh From the Farm Juice to come to the school…..
Meeting with Ankit was a great learning experience and really opened my eyes to the TRUE benefits of juicing. It’s all about treating your body well from the inside out and resetting your lifestyle. Although juicing has gained popularity for weight loss, it can be used for much more than that. It truly is a way to connect people to their local growers. It is a way for children and adults to feel connected to their food. It is a way for people to truly think about what they are putting into their bodies and how it ultimately affects them. If you ever have the opportunity to stop in Fresh From the Farm Juice please do. Get connected to your food and treat your body right.