Care for a family member with breast cancer compelled Kim Neto-Phillips to prepare raw, organic fruit and vegetable juices in weekly batches for more than a year.
"She was having trouble eating and getting enough nutrition out of her food," says Neto-Phillips.
The myriad vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, not to mention cleansing capabilities, of juice was an obvious dietary solution. But the time required to juice enough vegetables — and clean the equipment — taxed Neto-Phillips, mother to a 1-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. If only there was a delivery service for raw juice, ventured Neto-Phillips' relative.
So Neto-Phillips, a 38-year-old Ashland resident and longtime "juicer," started researching the business possibilities, finding similar services in larger cities, such as San Francisco. Neto-Phillips thought her juice could appeal to health-conscious customers who want the best product without the hassle of juicing or investment in high-end equipment.
"They realize how difficult it is ... and then the cleanup is the big thing afterward," she says.
With husband, Steve Phillips, former manager of Larks restaurant in Ashland, Neto-Phillips started testing recipes, first the "green" juice that became a staple for her cancer-stricken relative, then variations on carrot, apple, citrus and other fruit juices. In May, the couple launched Social Juice-Tis with a menu of 16 raw, organic juices.
"We spent months tasting each one," says Neto-Phillips.
Among the first taste-testers was 39-year-old Codi Spodnik, who asked Neto-Phillips if she could devise a three-day juice cleanse. While she didn't reap major results from the regimen, Spodnik says she gained body awareness and consumes less caffeine.
"What I felt shocked by is I was never hungry," she says. "When you do carrot in the morning, it gives you energy."
One day of a Social Juice-Tis cleanse, notes Neto-Phillips, represents about 15 to 20 pounds of fresh produce, or the amount consumed annually by the average American. She's quick to point out that she has no nutritional expertise but rather hopes to work with customers' care providers. Neto-Phillips started juicing in college when she worked as a nanny for chiropractors in Santa Cruz, Calif.
"I grew up in a family that, like, was fast food, meat and a potatoes ... and I grew up being very ill and sick," she says, explaining that she noticed significant health improvements when she started juicing.
Her juice, itself, was vastly improved with the purchase of a top-of-the-line Norwalk juicer, which squeezes more liquid from the pulp than cheaper models and also doesn't heat the juice. With a Vitamix blender, Neto-Phillips also make raw almond and cashew milks.
"It's different than a highly processed almond milk you'd buy in a store," says Neto-Phillips. "We've sold almost as much nut milk as we have juice."
Nuts milks and raw juices are common components of vegan diets, popularized in recent years by celebrities and other proponents boasting dramatic weight loss.
Like many alternative health care practitioners, Medford chiropractor and physical therapist Miven Donato often prescribes raw foods and juicing. Benefits include overcoming addiction, reducing inflammation and flushing toxins from the body, in addition to better nutrition, he says.
"I would rate it as the No. 1 fuel," he says of raw juice. "It is the best way to give the cells the food."
Donato tells patients to purchase a juicer, the more sophisticated the better at preserving vital enzymes. Acknowledging that juicing is very time-consuming (he spends an hour on it every morning), Donato says he can see the draw of a juice delivery service, provided quality was as good or better than customers could produce themselves.
Focus on a superior product while keeping overhead low steered Social Juice-Tis toward delivery rather than opening as a juice bar, says Neto-Phillips. The majority of ingredients come from an organic distributor, with small supplements from Ashland Food Co-op and farmers markets. Produce first soaks in a solution of grapefruit-seed extract, and all blemishes are removed before juicing to preserve optimum flavor and color.
Prices for single juices range from $6 for 16 ounces of plain carrot to $9.50 for pinepapple-pear-turmeric root. Quart sizes also are available, as well as custom juice blends or cleanse programs with a minimum order.
A $20 purchase is required for juice delivery in Ashland and Talent, with a $10 fee elsewhere in the Rogue Valley. However, Social Juice-Tis is working on establishing a drop-off site in Medford.
See www.socialjuicetis.com for menus and purchasing details or call 541-840-7029.