The Consumption of Style: Owen + Alchemy
Name: Jared Van Camp
Title: Chef, Co-owner of Owen + Alchemy
Hometown: Danville, IL
Juice Featured: 06: kale, parsley, romaine, ginger, coconut water
How it’s made/prepared/composition:
We took a straightforward savory green juice and we added coconut meat and water to it. It has kale, parsley and spinach and then – to tie in the coconut flavor – we add ginger. It’s all put into the cold press juicer and juiced.
How was Owen + Alchemy Started?
My co-owner, Anne Owen, was looking for a way to combine her business background with her passion for holistic wellness and conscious living, and I wanted to create a new concept that would provide convenient access to delicious, healthy, responsibly-sourced food. I believe strongly in the value of a diet rich in whole and plant-based foods, and – unlike in coastal cities – really delicious plant-based food has been difficult to find in Chicago until pretty recently. However, over the past few years, we’ve been seeing an increased curiosity about plant-based food, dairy alternatives and overall lighter, fresher, healthier fare, so we felt Chicago was ready for a completely plant-based option.
What are some health benefits that could be fueled if everyone started their day with juice?
One of the things we as a country tend to do for breakfast is consume a lot of sugar through things like cereal or baked goods, but actually nothing could be worse for you in the morning than overloading on unnecessary carbs. A real benefit of juicing is the overwhelming energy you get. If you start off with raw fruits or vegetables instead of unneeded carbs, you have tons of energy throughout the day.
What kind of impact does juicing have on your body?
Hunger is your biological response to needing nutrition. A lot of the food we eat through our modern diets are not dense in nutrition, so we end up eating more of it because we’re hungry again due to the lack of real nutrition. When you incorporate juicing, you’re not hungry as frequently because your body is getting tons of nutrition.
What negative comprehension of juicing do you wish you could clear up?
That it’s a diet fad. It’s not supposed to be a trendy diet that makes you drop a bunch of weight really quickly, it’s meant to be a healthy lifestyle choice.
Why are big juice brands in grocery stores not the best choice for health benefits?
To be wholesale and carried in a grocery store in America, the way it works is that the juice has to undergo HPP (high pressure processing), so that means that in the process of making them able to be kept on store shelves, they’re actually destroying some of those beautiful vitamins and minerals in the raw juice. You’ve got to think that if you’re making a juice to be shelf-stable at a certain temperature, you’ll end up destroying a lot of the nutrients. Our juices are completely raw and are made for consumption within a couple of days, so they retain all the benefits of a truly raw juice — they’re alive, essentially.
How has juicing positively influenced your lifestyle?
I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes about 20 years ago, and I’ve become passionate about wellness because of that. One effect of the diabetes is that I’ve had a lot of problems with my eyes, and juicing has really helped turn that around. It’s also given me way more energy.
What is a modern juice apothecary?
I think that phrase reflects that we’re bringing a holistic approach to the industry. Our motto is “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” so we approached everything on our menu as an opportunity to enhance a healthy way of living. We’ve worked with Giselle Wasfie, who has a Masters in traditional Chinese Medicine, to develop 5 custom herbal blends tackling issues like helping you detox, boosting your immunity, and aiding in digestion. We’ve also teamed up with experts in other fields of health, including working with the Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern to develop our juice cleanse.
What kind of vibe can juicers expect when walking into Owen + Alchemy?
Our design is a bit different than your typical juice shop, so walking into Owen + Alchemy should feel more like entering a modern, stylish environment than going into a “granola” health food spot. Also, we chose to open in Logan Square, specifically, because of the creative mindset that blossoms in this neighborhood, so we definitely want it to be a place that’s steeped in the community. A lot of our pieces are made by local artists – we have a live-edge cut walnut communal table created Brandon Hards of B Line Design and Taylor Wallace of Metal Magic and we also worked with local botanical artist Heather Shouse of Bottle & Branch, who designed our living green cross.
How do you choose which local farms will provide the ingredients you use for your juice?
We choose to work personally with farmers that don’t just adhere to USDA organic certification standards, but also go beyond them. We engage with farmers who incorporate techniques that ensure safe practices for both the workers and the produce they provide. Often independently owned farms are too small to afford the expensive process that comes with organic certification, but this doesn’t diminish their commitment to the practices needed to safely grow and distribute produce. If we forge a partnership with a farm, it’s because we have personally witnessed their dedication to achieving the highest standards in responsible and socially conscious farming, regardless of their size.
What is your relationship with The Raby Institute of Integrative Nutrition at Northwestern?
When deciding to include cleanse options on our menu, we thought it was important to have a health professional weigh in, since a lot of juice “cleanses” out there are not necessarily healthy or good for you. We wanted an alkaline balance of vegetable and fruit juices as well as nut milks that would provide as complete a nutritional package as possible while also remaining really satisfying.
We teamed up with Dr. Chavez, ND, of the Raby Institute, who created the cleanses (both the Purist and the Universal) for us using our existing menu. She also created a guide answering a list of FAQs to help clarify the benefits of incorporating more whole and plant-based foods into your diet. We are currently discussing a more in-depth partnership with the Institute which may involve having O+A juices and custom cleanses available for their clients.
How do you find a proper flavor balance between the sweet fruit and robust vegetables?
As a chef, I approach it the same way I would approach any plate in a restaurant — it’s important to find a nice balance of acids, sweet, salt, bitter, etc, so I use all the same components of the process that I would for a dish in a restaurant.
Why is cold pressing the produce optimal for quality juice?
Cold-pressing extracts the highest yield of juice and nutrients possible from each raw fruit or vegetable by avoiding heat and instead using steel plates to press ingredients with thousands of pounds of pressure. We pack about five pounds of locally-sourced produce into each of our bottles. Cold-pressing also eliminates oxidation and makes the juice richer in nutrients and taste.