Your guide to healthier Madison-made drinks
Kombucha, juice, smoothies, oh my!
Juice seems like it’s suffering an identity crisis. It’s a lunchbox companion with a punch straw; it fills an entire cooler at the grocery store in a dizzying array of options; it’s fresh-pressed (and the same price as a cocktail) at your favorite breakfast spot; it’s the sole form of sustenance in the latest cleanse one of the Kardashians swears by — juice’s brand is all over the place.
But no matter the vehicle or the marketing tactic, juice feels like a “healthy” beverage choice at the outset. Filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, hydrating, bright — what could be wrong with that? It turns out a lot could be, depending on the juice.
We spoke with the folks at SuperCharge! Foods to help us better understand this seemingly simple beverage.
TJ DiCiaula and P.T. Bjerke opened SuperCharge! Foods in 2008 to offer the Madison community holistic, sustainable nourishment through homegrown microgreens and juices. Influenced by the 1973 book “The Secret Life of Plants” by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, the co-owners of SuperCharge! have long preached the importance of eating “live food,” referencing the ideology that there’s a window of time in which food stays alive long enough to provide raw, mineral-dense energy that’s good for your body, DiCiaula says.
“When you’re eating processed food, it’s literally killed to meet code, which is why they have to add sugar to juice, because all juice that is pasteurized is literally dead,” DiCiaula says. “They kill it through pasteurization. And then it tastes dead.”
Which is why you’ll only get SuperCharge!’s juices straight from the storefront at 902 E. Washington Ave., and why they have a drink-by expiration. The juice bar’s drinks are packed with the team’s homegrown microgreens, namely wheatgrass and sunflowers. When you’re putting real, live food into juice, it becomes as simple and healthy as it seems. “With juice, you’re getting concentrated nutrients that your body can’t process the same way that it does by eating a whole apple,” says Will Byrd, SuperCharge!’s juice bar manager.
Other Drinks We Dig
Jo Um founded Saints Madison Juice Co. because she knew there had to be others who wanted a healthy morning beverage option for Willy Street commuters. Her cold-pressed juice operation — which has become a favorite of many food-industry folk — offers several fun flavors. Saints also can help create a cleanse or plan to fit individual needs. 821 Williamson St.
Juices and smoothies, both of which have been around for a long time, had to make way for the more modern açaí bowl as another vehicle for blended fruits and vegetables. A locally owned shop in Hilldale, aptly named Blended, offers all three. They also sell energy bites. 717 Hilldale Way
With every new addition to its menu, Forage Kitchen keeps upping its game as one of the most high-quality and healthy fast-casual eateries in town. We’re particularly impressed by Forage’s canned kombucha and fresh bottled juices. Both pair nicely with one of Forage’s green or grain bowls. 715 Hilldale Way, 665 State St., 800 W. Broadway, Monona
For the indecisive drinker, Willy Street Co-op is the place to go. The co-op’s shelves are stocked with local and national brands of kombucha, tea, coffee and other canned and bottled beverages. The juice bar is temporarily closed, but it’s still bottling up fresh juices. 1221 Williamson St., 2817 N. Sherman Ave., 6825 University Ave., Middleton
The Unofficial Specialty Beverage of Madison
If you’re accustomed to downing wheatgrass shots at Supercharge! Foods, you’ve likely ventured into the world of kombucha. This fermented tea is popular around town, with quite a few local operations slinging bottles of fizzy, probiotic kombucha that contain little sugar and are associated with many health benefit claims.
Rude Brew Kombucha has been stirring SCOBYs (aka symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and infusing kombucha with Wisconsin-grown fruits and herbs since 2017. Owner Lacy Rude created a new line of ’booches infused with locally grown hemp flowers.
“Hemp can have so many benefits for the body, especially through interactions with the serotonin receptors in our brains, as some studies are showing,” Rude says. “I have seen it perform as a healing herb on many occasions for myself and my family, as well as many others.
It has been shown to alleviate inflammation and chronic pain in some, and like kombucha, it can be used to treat pain related to nausea and other stomach-related concerns (IBS, ulcerative colitis, etc.), which is why I thought it would be a fantastic addition to my newest line of flavors.” It’s important to note that the hemp Rude uses to infuse her kombucha contains less than 0.3% THC, which is within Wisconsin’s legal limits.
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