In recent years, juicing every last thing has taken off -- look at the evangelization in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and in tandem, the proliferation of juice bars and at-home juicer sales. An IBIS report suggests juicing is a $2 billion-per-year industry, and as Racked points out, "Starbucks owns Evolution Fresh, Coca-Cola has Odwalla, and Pepsi has Naked Juice." There's a healthy profit to be squeezed from your cold-pressed wallet, and that's likely to continue.
But a recent Daily Beast article explores the dirty secrets to juicing: it isn't as good for you as cooking fruits and vegetables or eating them raw. Even worse, it creates mounds of food waste that imperils the environment.
On the health side, juicing has two main detractions: you won't feel as full, and you lose out on numerous nutrients. Skins and fibrous parts of plants not only fill you up (or feed more people), but the skins come packed with the "cancer-fighting flavonoids" you hear so many studies about. Juicing also removes fat, which your body needs to absorb "vitamins like A, D, E, and K." In fact, cooking vegetables can help release many of the antioxidants, and frying them in olive oil can even increase the amount of phenols, which prevent cancer, diabetes, and macular degeneration.
Put simply, you're not going to feel as full, you're not going to get all the nutrients, and you won't be able to absorb other nutrients if you're subsisting on juice alone. Isn't the point of juicing to be healthier?
Furthermore, anyone who's juiced at home knows the big surprise: all that leftover pulp. Sure, you could compost it -- and if you're a veg-head, there's a good chance you do -- but, as the Daily Beast reports, only San Francisco and Seattle require residents to compost anything. Otherwise, most people toss the pulp (and there's loads of it) in the trash, where it ends up in a landfill.
While on the surface it seems like juice and juicing will lead you to a better life, it feels an awful lot like a fad. Juice cleanses are bullshit. Their believers don't want to hear that, but as with any health fad, it's all about making people believe in something. In the end, no Magic Bullet -- let alone juicer -- will solve your problems. You need to eat healthier and exercise regularly. Juice can be a part of that solution -- but it's not the solution alone.
Please put down the salad forks, angry juice mob. Nobody's claiming cheeseburgers are better for you than juice. But juice isn't the panacea it's marketed to be.
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Ryan Craggs is Thrillist's Senior News Editor. He's neither a doctor nor a nutritionist. And commenters will likely point this out. Follow him @ryanrcraggs.