What was ripe for the picking this morning can easily become the green, purple or orange juice a resident or visitor will enjoy this afternoon.
Indeed, area juicing experts agree that if you want to juice the right way, you should juice what’s local.
“I have always sold a lot of veggies for juicing, but this year, especially, juicing really seems to have exploded,” said farmer KK Haspel of KK’s The Farm in Greenport.
Haspel uses organic practices to grow all her produce, from leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard and spinach, to beets, blueberries, carrots and garlic.
She supplies The Giving Room, an organic juice bar and yoga studio in Southold, with many of the vegetables and berries used in its juices.
“When you use local produce, you can taste the difference,” Paula DiDonato, co-owner of the juicery, said recently while holding a mason jar filled with a brilliant beet-red brew. “You can see a difference in the juice’s color, too.”
Color, she explained, is an indicator of high vitamin and mineral content.
DiDonato began incorporating the health tonics into her daily routine about a decade ago and became hooked when she started using KK’s fresh local veggies in her own recipes.
She and co-owner Judy Teeven opened The Giving Room’s juice bar in September 2013, reasoning that it would be a great offering for health-conscious yogis already attending classes there.
But what is it about juicing that makes it so healthy?
Dr. Cynthia Ickes, an internal medicine physician in Greenport, said its benefits stem from separating fiber from nutrients.
“If you break down a food before you digest it, you’re going to get more out of it. You have better access to nutrients,” she said.
Having increased access to nutrients helps speed up metabolism, she said. When you metabolize faster, the body is able to rid itself of toxins more quickly.
Another major advantage of juicing, she said, is that “people end up eating a wider variety of vegetables.”
“We can easily get into a habit of eating the same thing over and over,” Dr. Ickes said. “When juicing, you tend to buy different things. Variety in a diet is a very good thing.”
When preparing a juice, the doctor said, it’s best to use more vegetables than fruit, as the latter can be high in sugar and calories. She recommends using at least three parts veggies and one part fruit.
Incorporating local produce into juices is standard procedure at The Market in Greenport, where manager and mixologist Chelsea Scoggin said she has seen a marked increase in demand at the store’s juice bar.
In fact, the organic health food market is revamping its juice bar menu to offer a “make-your-own” option, enabling amateur juicers to pick their poison.
It can be intimidating for first-timers to find something they like, Scoggin explained. “But if you can balance out the flavors, it’s a little bit more enjoyable.”
The hope, she said, is that the new menu will encourage novices to become better acquainted with juice flavors.
“So that people are drinking it not just to be healthy, but because it is delicious as well,” she said.
Liana Werner-Gray, lifestyle coach and author of “The Earth Diet,” visited Southold Elementary School in June to speak with students about the benefits of juicing.
She explained that juicing introduces nutrients in a liquid form, allowing them to go straight to cells to be absorbed.
“Our body doesn’t have to use a lot of energy to break [the fruits and vegetables] down,” she said. “Our immune systems are boosted right away and we can start to heal.”
Plucking produce straight from its root or tree offers much more in the way of nutrition than fruits and vegetables trucked in from across the country or shipped from another [country], Werner-Gray said.
“Those are going to be depleted of all their benefits,” she said. “It makes a lot more sense to go local.”
Know your tastes
When starting out, most people gravitate toward green juices because they’re healthier and contain less sugar. But if you think they’re too bitter, it’s OK to add a a little green apple or lemon.
Once you become accustomed to juices, try to move toward more vegetables — the greener the better — and fewer sugar-packed fruits.
Add ginger, garlic, turmeric or cayenne to your juices. “These are some of the most powerful healing foods on earth,” DiDonato says. Some even say they can help keep your mind sharp, your energy high and your weight down.
Play with your food
Don’t be afraid to try different combinations and spend an afternoon mixing a variety of ingredients. If you know there are certain foods you really want to incorporate into your diet, play with combinations until you find one that tastes great and offers the best nutritional value.
Experiment with color
You’ll be more inclined to drink juices that look beautiful. Plus, color is an indication of high vitamin and mineral content. Keep in mind that hues tend to be more brilliant when made using local ingredients.