While I have enjoyed connecting people through shared meals, the value of building a strong community delves much deeper, as communities have the power to provide a voice to those who need it most. The plight of Earth’s Healing Cafe serves as a great opportunity to support a local business who faces an unnecessarily difficult challenge. Please read about their story and future plans below and visit them at 1942 W. Montrose.
Juices & Future Plans
By EHC Staff on April 20, 2016
This is an update on what has been happening with us and our juices the past two months. We also will go into the future of Earth’s Healing Café so you know what you can expect from us.
In 2014, we purchased a commercial cold-pressed machine from Goodnature called the X-1. This juicer was being used globally already and demand was steadily increasing due to the benefits it boasted. Because of the cold-press technology, the juices last a little longer and more enzymes are kept intact, as there is no heat and oxidation affecting the quality of the juice in the process. The juicer allowed us to make large batches (many gallons) of juice in a short amount of time and be able to deliver high quality at a reasonable price. We invested $25,000 in this machine and went ahead to expand to a second location downtown Chicago to distribute the juice on a wider scale. We were one of the first juiceries in the City to use this juicer.
How The Juicer Works
Produce is put through a shoot, where it is then cut up into small pieces. The pieces drop into a bag between two metal plates that are then pushed together, using a hydraulic press. The juice pours from the tiny holes of the bag into a tray after which it is bottled and capped. The bag is so tightly woven that the juice has no pulp. In between use, the bags are cleaned per the manufacturer’s instructions.
This year, we had a regular inspection by the Chicago Health Department and the inspector asked us to provide a HAACP plan in order to continue bottling juices. The Chicago Health Department is enforcing laws based on health codes put in place in 1976. They do plan to update the code to a 2013 version in January 2017. Based on the current food regulations that were put in place in 1976, manual capping is not allowed. In order to get approval to manually cap, we need to have a variance. We applied for a variance and were denied because the Health Department does not approve of the bags used in the X-1 Juicer, due to the fact that it is porous. They are concerned with bacteria and people getting sick. Meanwhile, we have never had anyone report getting sick from any of our juices. The only way the City would approve us is if we agree to throw out the bags after 4 hours of use. Each bag costs $65 before tax and shipping so it is cost prohibitive for us to do this.
Other Big Players
The entire time we were trying to get this resolved, we were learning about changes in the juicing industry here in Illinois and throughout the country. The biggest natural health grocery store in America cannot use the X-1 juicer in Chicago (due to being forced to follow the same procedure of disposing of the bag every 4 hours). The State of Illinois is also mandating them to HPP their juices to be sold in each of their stores since the juice is made in a central facility. HPP stands for high pressure processing, which is basically pasteurizing the juice with pressure instead of heat. This process alters the natural biochemical composition of the juice which allows it to remain on a store shelf for weeks.
Our Plans Moving Forward
We were approved by the City to manually cap using a centrifugal juicer that we used when Earth’s Healing Café first opened its doors in January of 2011. Centrifugal juicers not only waste produce and increase customer wait time, but they also do not provide as high quality a juice as the X-1 juicer. Emotionally, we felt like we were going backwards but we are optimistic people always working on the next step of our growth and evolution. We had hopes that this would be a temporary solution until the City and a few of us juice bars could come to an agreement to get the X-1 bags approved. From what we are realizing, however, is that this process may take months and will most likely lead to the City of Chicago remaining as the only place in the United States (to our knowledge) that doesn’t allow the standard use of the X-1 juicer (without putting us through outrageous expense having to replace the juicing bags on a daily basis).
Based on that, we’ve made the decision to discontinue juicing until a more realistic resolution is found. We will slowly phase it out this month (April).
We are still committed to being a resource for you for delicious, healthy, organic, living/raw food/superfood smoothies; therapeutic, organic and wild-crafted herbal teas; and nutritional and lifestyle counseling.
We will also be expanding our smoothie menu to include more fun, delicious superfood options.
We offer health coaching and free consultations. Our herbalist/natural method healer and co-owenr Akin Olokun and health coach and co-owner, Samantha Salmon both offer consultations and support in achieving health and wellness goals. You can schedule an appointment for your initial session by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your health goal or health concern and get paired up with the person who can best help you.