There are many nutritional benefits to juicing, especially when it’s cold-pressed and you’re using fresh, organic produce. In this interview with Hana James, co-founder of Greenhouse Juice, we discover lots of juicing recommendations from a Toronto-based company that is on a mission to bring widespread and sustainable access to plant-based juices.

We were able to chat with Hana about what we should be looking for when we purchase juice, how to properly prepare for a juice cleanse and some juicing tips for at home. 

WEHL: Tell us a little about yourself, and what wellness means to you.

HJ: I have always been personally interested in health and wellness. I was exposed to what might be considered “alternative” practices and foods at an early age by my parents—my dad is a trained accountant who left the corporate world to start his own tai chi and meditation centre, and my mum worked in the natural food sector. For me, wellness incorporates so much, including the mind and body, and balance is a vital factor of overall wellness.

WEHL: What inspired you and your team to start Greenhouse?

HJ: It’s our mission to offer widespread, sustainable access to plant-based nutrition of the highest quality.

WEHL: You use organic ingredients to make your juice. Tell us about the farms and how you source your ingredients.  

HJ: We source our ingredients from organic farms—and local ones whenever possible. Elements such as the Ontario growing season, as well as the produce in question, have to be factored in (alas, pineapples tend not to grow so well in this great country, eh?), but in dealing directly with growers, we get to know them and their practices and can be sure we are getting only organic produce of the very highest quality.

WEHL: What should we look for when we’re purchasing juice?

HJ: Organic is extremely important. When it comes to cold-pressed juice, there is no insoluble fibre—when you drink it, your body will quickly and easily absorb the vast array of living nutrients in that juice. You absorb everything in that bottle, so making sure the produce is organic (free from chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and so on) is key.

Additionally, some juicers like to make sure they’re drinking a well-balanced juice that’s perhaps a little heavier on the veg front than the fruit. Being mindful of sugar content is always important, even when those sugars are naturally occurring ones.

WEHL: What does ‘cold-pressed’ mean and how important is it that we choose juice that is cold-pressed?  

HJ: Cold-pressing involves using a hydraulic press, in an environment kept below 4 degrees Celsius, to extract juice from fresh produce. The process minimizes exposure to heat and oxygen, both of which can denature or damage enzymes and nutrients in juice. Cold-pressing results in a product with three to five times more nutrients than something you might make using a typical at-home juicer. Lastly, the process separates the juice from the insoluble fibre, making the nutrients much more readily absorbable.

WEHL: Your juices don’t have any preservatives. How long will they stay fresh for? Do you lose any nutrients with your bottling process?  

HJ: We are incredibly proud of our recent innovation that extends the shelf life of our product—without compromising its nutritional integrity! Light Filtration involves using cold UV-light rays to gently remove naturally-occurring microorganisms present in the juice. It’s been used in water filtration for decades. Our innovative technology allows us to do the same for juice, and without introducing heat—leaving the juice’s healthful enzymes and nutrients intact.

Our very mission is to offer widespread and sustainable access. Although we will never forget our beloved Toronto roots, it is our dream to bring our products to families all across Canada, allowing us to be more geographically and financially accessible. Light Filtration also means we can continue to package in glass bottles. Bonus: the process also uses far less energy than standard pasteurization techniques currently used in the industry.

WEHL: You bottle in glass bottles; why do you do this?  

HJ: Sustainability is an essential aspect of our mission. For us, in order to minimize our environmental impact, and look out for the future both of the planet and our customers, packaging in glass was the only option.

WEHL: What do you mean when you say your juices are ‘raw’ and what does that mean for the nutrient values?

HJ: Our juices are raw because they never come into contact with any heat. Preservation processes such as pasteurization use heat to stop bacteria growth, which in turn extends shelf-life, but this heat is indiscriminate—it also damages nutrients and living enzymes present in the juice, essentially creating a ‘juice zombie.’

Raw juices are much more abundant in nutrients than their pasteurized counterparts, which is why it was so crucial for us to develop a technology that could extend our juices’ shelf-lives without such compromises.

WEHL: What should someone know about doing a juice cleanse for the first time? 

HJ: The first thing to remember is that juice cleansing is not for everyone. I always suggest talking to a health-care practitioner first, especially if you have specific health goals in mind.

If you do decide you wish to try a cleanse, we suggest doing a 3-5 day “pre-cleanse” in the run-up to your start-date. Essentially, this would entail cutting out any dairy, gluten, meat, or caffeinated beverages from your diet, switching instead to more of a plant-based diet. Not only will this help ease your body into the cleanse, but as you transition out of it again, the slow re-introduction of these foods may reveal any sensitivities you weren’t previously aware of.

I like to think of cleansing as hitting a big red reset button for my body. It certainly shouldn’t be considered a “quick-fix” but instead can help one to take stock of current routines and create new habits.

WEHL: What are the differences between juices and smoothies?  

HJ: Smoothies are blended beverages that still contain the insoluble fibre from the original ingredients. As such, they are typically much thicker in consistency than juices.

WEHL: Do you have a favourite way to incorporate juice into other foods? 

HJ: I love using cold-pressed juice for cocktail-making! It’s an easy and delicious way to add a little dash of wellness into an otherwise indulgent night, and may also go some way to preemptively alleviating any pesky morning-after-the-party symptoms. I also use our juices a lot in home recipes for anything from salad dressings to sauces and even in hummus to add a unique citrusy twang! Greenhouse operates a blog on our website called “The House” where you can find an incredible number of recipes that use our products!

WEHL: Juicing feels like a lot of work. If we’re feeling ambitious, do you have any tips for juicing at home?

HJ:Preparation is key! Thoroughly washing and then chopping your produce to the appropriate size will help ease the juicing process itself. It’s also worth noting that while you can leave the skin on for the vast majority of fruits and vegetables when it comes to citruses, you should remove the rind, as this may add a rather bitter edge to your beverage.

I also encourage people to try and mix up their ingredients, so their juice has greens, citrus, and something a little sweet. If using a masticating or centrifuge juicer, running fruit or citrus in between greens can help draw out all the juice from them. We very proudly débuted The Greenhouse Cookbook published by Penguin Random House in April 2017—all my favourite at-home juice recipes can be found in this collection.

WEHL: Were you expecting Greenhouse to grow from the small shop on Macpherson to the company is it today?

HJ: I don’t think any of us could have expected it, but we are proud beyond words that we get to work with such a stellar team to get closer every day to our mission!

WEHL: Do you have any advice for an entrepreneur who’s interested in building a socially and environmentally conscious business?  

HJ: Be persistent. Starting a business is not always easy, but you have to power through and keep on going, even when it feels hard.

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Have you tried Greenhouse Juice? Which flavour have you tried? Let us know below!

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