For a town to truly be a hippie town, it needs a juicery. For Athens, that place is Journey Juice. Located right off Prince Avenue, the shop and its owner welcome customers with fresh veggies and the best of greeters, Bougie, the dog.
After trying several of their juices, from the newcomer-friendly Minion Juice to the punch-you-in-the-face Flu Shot, I knew I wanted more of my fellow Athenians to experience this place and all it has to offer. So I sat down with owner Amy Lawrence to chat about her job — or as she prefers to call it, her passion.
Spoon: What drew you to juicing?
Amy Lawrence: I had some health issues, so I started getting really into juicing, and then this girl I was teaching with ended up doing a holistic cancer treat by doing The Gerson Therapy using juicing. And so I just kind of got deeper into it and saw the medicinal benefits of just juicing in general, just eating real foods and how food is medicine. It can kill you or it can heal you. It was the power of real foods that got me.
Spoon: Where does your produce come from?
AL: This is also a way for me to support our local farmers, because most of our produce comes from our farms here locally — everyone who's at the Athens Farmers Market. And we don't have any waste, because it goes to goat farmers. Foster-Brady Farms picks it up and feeds it to his goats. We just had a benefit not too long ago where we raise money for Wholesome Wave. Basically, if a family with EBT [basically the electronic version of food stamps] comes in with $20, they get double the amount to spend at the farmers market. That's my way of being able to provide juice for them.
Spoon: How do you address people's fears of drinking something that hasn't been pasteurized?
AL: People are still really afraid of anything raw and not pasteurized. But that's only going to get better as we keep it in small batches and don't do such big things on such big scales. That's where the dirtiness happens. I have three people that work with me so we're consistent, and we know what we're doing. The more you know your juicers' practices or your farmers' practices, then the more confidence you can have.
It's just like everything else. Know where your food comes from. Don't trust big government to tell you it's okay. Do your own research, read your own things.
Spoon: What's the best juice for an immunity booster?
AL: The Flu Shot — it works! It's the raw garlic, turmeric and jalapeno. Since we are 70% water, most of us are dehydrated. Plants have the structured water in them that our cells require to properly hydrate the body. So when you feel sick like that — yes, your immune system's down — but you're also probably really more dehydrated than usual. And so hydration is the key bigger than anything.
The Flu Shot is good because it has the antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, but even Watermelon Fresca. Watermelon has more potassium than a banana, but it has the structured water the way a green vegetable does.
Spoon: Best energy booster?
AL: Anything with peppers. I tell people, in the afternoons when you think about reaching for that cup of coffee, before you do it, drink something with peppers. Anything, whether it's cayenne or jalapeño, is going to kick start the metabolism. You know how sometimes you get that caffeine high and then you dip again or it just makes you stomach hurt? It won't do that.
Spoon: Best refresher?
AL: Beet Zinger. It's misleading, because the beets turn people off immediately, so when people are new to juicing, I always let them taste it and then I tell them what's in it. Because the beets are just coloring it. It's really apples and lemon and ginger.
Another one that's a really good refresher is Carrot Kicker. It's carrots and ginger, and it tastes like a carrot cake.
Spoon: Biggest sellers?
Spoon: Personal favorite?
AL: Just Greens. Oh my god, I feel like someone puts an IV in my arm every time I drink it. I do Just Greens every day.
Spoon: Which juices do you give to a new juicer?
AL: Greens + Apple, Beet Zinger, Yodalicious. Then they'll graduate to Green Zinger, a little Synergy with some peppers and maybe an almond milk. And then the next tier is all veggie—no fruit with your veggie.[For] some people, especially diabetics or people that are battling cancer, even though my juices are all-natural, it's still too much sugar in their body. So, those are the ones that really do that kind of juicing. Everybody else I don't do that to! It's like fingerprints. Everybody's bellies are completely different.
Spoon: Do you encourage juice cleanses?
AL: I feel like it's more of a guideline than a rule. To me, I encourage people to just implement juice in your day. People that walk in here that have never juiced before and are like, "I want to cleanse," I work really hard to talk them out of it. I encourage them to just buy two juices: drink one today, and drink one tomorrow. Come back and let me know how it goes. Let's just start there.
And I do believe that it's quality of life. 80/20: 80% of the time do what you do, but 20% of the time, if you want to go to Ike & Jane - do it! It's quality of life.
Spoon: What does it mean that all of your juices are cold-pressed?
AL: All it really means is [that] it doesn't have heat applied to it. The vegetables are cold, they touch a blade, and then they go into this textile bag that presses them with 18 thousand pounds of pressure ... It's literally being squeezed to death. So that's why it takes an ungodly amount to get it like that.
One of my 16oz bottles has three pounds of produce. You should get 8-12 servings of veggies, and it's really hard to eat 8-12 servings of veggies a day, but it's easy to drink it. You don't have to drink all of those daily servings, but you can drink some and then eat some.
Spoon: What's been your goal with Journey Juice?
AL: I want people to keep drinking juice. That's my goal: that they keep putting the juice in their daily regimen, their weekly regimen, and they just feel better in their skin. That's my goal. Every day I unlock that door and the lights come on and the coolers are cold, it's going to be a good day. That's all I care about!
I'm not in it to buy a beach house. I want to love what I do, I want to bring my dog to work, I want to support our farmers, and I want to stay healthy. I want to stay okay in my skin. I'm going to be juicing a lot at home anyway, so I might as well juice for the community.