Let’s start with a few ideas that you’re already super-familiar with: You depend on the fruits and vegetables you eat to help you stay energized, vibrant and strong, inside and out — that’s why you take care to get to know the people at the farmers' market and read grocery packaging carefully.
Where your produce comes from matters, so we’ve put the three things we think are the most important when it comes to picking produce to put through the juicer.
1. Was it ripened in the field?
Some farms have to pick their fruits and vegetables before they’re ripe because of the distance the produce travels. Harder produce can better withstand the bumps and jolts of their trip to the processing plant or grocery store. The problem: When you harvest before a plant is ripe, you don’t give it enough time to pick up all the nutrients it can before being squeezed into your juice bottle.
2. Did it have a short trip from farm to market / juicer / blender?
Fruits and vegetables start losing nutritional value just about as soon as you remove them from the tree or the soil (the source of all those useful nutrients). We read up on the latest and found some interesting conclusions from the Harvard School of Public Health:
- Even when the highest post-harvest handling standards are met, food grown far away that spends significant time on the road has more time to lose nutrients before reaching the marketplace.
- Farmers growing for a local (and especially a direct) market favor taste, nutrition and diversity over ship-ability when choosing varieties. Greater crop diversity from the farmer means greater nutritional diversity for the eater.
- In direct and local markets, produce is usually sold within 24 hours after harvest at its peak freshness and ripeness, making consuming them a more attractive prospect. During this time, produce is likely handled by fewer people, decreasing potential for damage. Minimizing transportation and processing can ensure maximum freshness and flavor, and nutrient retention.”
That means a win for farmers' markets and local grocery co-ops.
What about ingredients from far-off lands, should they be completely out of reach?
No, especially since there are some wonderfully tasty fruits and veggies that grow in very specific climates. In those cases, there are facilities on site that will take that produce, then juice (or puree) them at their peak and then flash freeze them to help protect their nutrition and flavor before shipping.
When you make your morning smoothie, use flash frozen fruit (no sugar added) and veggies that haven’t been sitting in your crisper drawer for more than four days.
At Evolution Fresh 82% of the whole, raw ingredients we bring into our juicery are within 400 miles (1 to 2 days) of our juicery to help us bring you as much of the good stuff as possible.
3. Are you getting the biggest nutritional bang?
There is no one food that is a nutritional silver bullet, although kale, chard and collard greens come close. (Note: drinking straight chard juice may not be for everyone.) Whether juicing that day or stocking up on cold-pressed juice, think about what each ingredient does in the juice and what flavor it brings.
Check out the Andi Guide from Whole Foods Market® when making decisions on which foods get on your weekly juicing list and become high value targets for bottled juice ingredients.
Nutrition is key but so is volume. (You'd be surprised how much spinach it takes to get 8 ounces of juice!) So if you want to pack in 16 to 24 ounces a day it can be a grind to get all of them from greens alone. Options like parsnip, celery, and cucumber are excellent for when you need more juice and still want it to be nutritionally packed and refreshingly drinkable.