Evangelical Juicing: An Interview With The Founder Of Juice Press

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01_IMG_9286Beets_ErinPhranerPhotographed By Erin Phraner.
Suddenly it seems there’s a Juice Press on every block. The organization is well on its way to becoming an empire, if it isn’t one already. After opening 14 Manhattan locations in the past three years (plus a new outpost in SoHo Strength Lab), and with four more expected in the next few months alone, it’s reasonable to say Juice Press could become the next Starbucks. For all this, we can thank Marcus Antebi.

As JP’s fearless founder and leader, Antebi borrowed the idea of juicing from his hippie counterparts and — with a combination of guerilla marketing (we’ve all seen the “Assertive Women Who Drink Juice Are F*cking Sexy” postcards) and cool aesthetics — he put his version of juice on the NYC map (as well as many a backstage dressing room). While there’s no question that juices are one of the most competitive new food products to hit the market (even Starbucks is getting involved), the topic of juice is rife with controversy. Juicing and juice fasts are a polarizing conversation in the medical and nutritional fields, with doctors and nutritionists either espousing the cleansing properties of juice or knocking it as yet another wacky fad.

Even among those who believe in juicing, there’s still disagreement, but Marcus Antebi doesn’t care. On his very own website, he targets celebrity nutritionist Kimberley Snyder: “She clearly doesn’t understand juicing…I [sic] would gladly challenge her to a public duel on nutrition and juicing knowledge anytime, anywhere.” Marcus is a self-proclaimed fanatic — he’s happy to go head-to-head with any doctor or nutritionist who refutes his claims about juicing — mostly taking issue with his discussion of the process called “autolysis.”
02_jp6_compPhoto: Courtesy Of Juice Press.
Autolysis is the fancy, biological term describing self-digestion of a cell by its enzymes. We enter a state of autolysis when we have no food to digest, and the body starts to eat itself. Kinda gross, right? But, according to Marcus, this is actually very illustrative of his philosophy, because “the body has infinite wisdom not to eat vital organs, the nervous system, the brain…the body’s going to go through morbid tissue, abscesses, tumors, dead cells, dying cells.” He believes the body will essentially enter what he calls a healing process or “healing crisis.”

This “healing crisis” is one of the reasons why juicing has become such a heated topic. As the body starts to enter autolysis, it essentially goes into starvation mode. This is the reason even healthy, diet-conscious people report feeling sick (faint, weak, dizzy) after the first day or two of a cleanse. However, Marcus views these feelings as symptoms of withdrawal from a high-sugar, processed food diet, medical doctors are quick to disagree. The quickest way to enter a state of autolysis (which Marcus does not advise) is through a water fast, but the next best thing is a juice fast, since “you’re adding back in trace amount of protein, trace amount of fiber…all the minerals and nutrients.”

So, what, then, about the lack of fiber in juice? For decades, we’ve been trained by doctors and nutritionists to equate fiber with “healthy,” and food brands have responded by adding extra fiber to nearly every consumable product. According to Marcus, you don’t need fiber on a juice cleanse, because you won’t be eating any of the bulky materials (like animal flesh and concentrated proteins) that require the aid of fiber to get pushed through the digestive system. And, while the fiber of fruit and vegetables is removed during the juice-pressing process, the nutrients and sugars responsible for cleansing the body and alkalizing the blood stream remain. However, not everyone is equipped to handle the sugars in juice. People who do not produce insulin (diabetics), for instance, should not consume a lot of sugary juices. (We're referring here to the naturally occurring sugars in juices, not added sugars.) Much the same way people with peanut allergies avoid peanut products, people who cannot balance the rise in their sugar levels should avoid high-sugar juices, like pineapple juice.
03_DSC3758Courtesy Of Juice Press.
Since we are all biochemically different, it’s important to note that there is no “one size fits all” approach to juicing. This concept is fiction promoted by large companies eager to mass market a prepackaged juice cleanse. It’s all about choosing the juices that work best for you. And, with over 50 different ones to choose from, Marcus has anticipated nearly every allergy and taste. As he sees it, the juices being added to your diet are less important than the bad-for-you foods you remove. Avoiding processed foods is one argument that nearly anyone can get behind — no practicing doctor will recommend increasing your consumption of prepackaged, processed foods to improve your health.

It’s safe to say that juicing isn't for everyone, but due to the growing demand for juice products, it's safe to say that the cold-pressed juice is here to stay (until the next big thing). For Marcus, this is a pivotal moment in the food industry, and he believes “we’re at a time in history where this is a whole new category, and anybody that has the retail experience, the product experience, and the hard work ethic, they’re going to prosper because the consumer in mass wants this product.” But, in the not-so-distant future, he predicts, “you’ll remember a time when there was a fad with juice bars, but it won’t actually be like that in a decade. It’ll be juice bars everywhere.” With so many different juice options sprouting up, Juice Press continues to set itself apart from the competition thanks to Marcus’s zeal for tailoring his product to his own specifications. He notes, “I don’t want HPP [high-pressure processed] juice; I want organic produce; I want a wide selection; I want a lot of service; and I want all the conveniences that a big brand would bring to the table.” That’s a tall order, but it isn’t stopping Marcus from chasing that juiced-up dream.