I started Alive Juice Bar for many reasons. One was to diversify — and not necessarily critique — SnoKing neighborhood food offerings and experiences, to provide an alternative to the usual. We’ve worked to normalize, demystify marginalized produce such as kale and beets by making them taste satisfying to those wary of or unfamiliar with such ingredients. We’ve introduced more nutritious alternatives, such as our raw carrot cake w/almond frosting. We’ve deliberately played what many consider an “unusual” mix of music. Put simply, we’ve been working toward making customers become comfortable with being uncomfortable, to experience Alive Juice Bar as a liminal space where the sacred becomes profane, and the profane sacred. That will continue to be our purpose. We’ll continue to push the limits of what’s acceptable not only in our diets (which I find extraordinarily limited), but also in our minds. The hope is to create the conditions to attract culturally significant restaurants typically found in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill.
I also wanted to challenge troubling narratives about health and nutrition. Too many assume that the economically “poor” in the US can’t afford to eat and live well. Or that one has to be committed to to all sorts of outrageous and sometimes dangerous diets to maintain a “healthy” weight. Or purchase expensive supplements of controversial value to be healthy. These assumptions aren’t just wrong, they’re dangerous. They lead to wasted productivity and subtle class warfare that can destroy a nation. We’re still in the business of putting an end to hysteria regarding food and health. We can’t let eating well become a function of socio-economic class. We can’t give the economically “poor” another reason to quit life.
Two purposes have emerged since we started. We now sell our brand of cultural values and standards and challenge those I find intolerable. The growing problem of health in America isn’t about resources, it’s about cultural values and standards. Cure the disease, not its symptoms.
We’re also going to do more to work to help clarify confusing nutrition concepts (eg. glycemic index), debunk outrageous claims (eg. wheatgrass, ionized water), and to help more people become comfortable with the scientific method and critical reasoning practices. We’re not promoting scientism — the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach — we have respect for many time honored practices that haven’t been rigorously tested in peer reviewed clinical trials. We just want to build a public that’s more skeptical and less suspicious.
There are other purposes, but I think these are the four main ones about which customers should know. Customers should know what they’re supporting, how we’re working to change the cultural landscape of the neighborhood.