Saturday, July 29, 2006

Healthy fast food?

Jamba Juice is California's answer to healthy fast food. It's a colorful fruit bar where you can get fresh juice, juice blends and fruit smoothies that have no artificial colors or preservatives. In typical California style, everything they offer can be made dairy free, gluten free (except for a couple of boosts and blends), vegetarian or vegan.

On the positive side, you have really delicious, filling fruit smoothies. On the negative, the smoothies are very high in calories and sugar. (To be honest, I don't know if sugar is added or if it's naturally occurring. I looked everywhere on their site and couldn't find the answer. My guess is sugar is added, specially when the blend includes sorbets, yogurt or soy milk.)

If I owned Jamba Juice, here is what I would change:
  • Products would contain no added sugar.
  • There would be smaller portion options.
  • I'm extremely skeptical about two of the boosts: energy and burner boost. Increase stamina? fight fatigue? burn fat? c'mon.
  • I'd love it if they offered organic options.
Why is organic better? Because there are less chemicals (both in your body and in the soil), more nutrients and a guarantee that you are not getting genetically modified food. If the products contain dairy, you are using less antibiotics and other medicines too. Finally, people argue that organic tastes better (I emphatically agree).
  • Jamba Juices takes pride in "searching the world to find fruits and vegetables of the highest quality". I'd like for Jamba juice to try to use more local produce.
Why is local better? Because local is fresher. It hasn't been traveling or cold stored for days or weeks. The less time from tree to mouth the better the taste and the higher the nutritional value. Because it gives fruits and vegetables time to become ripe. Because it's better for air quality and pollution. It keeps us in touch with the seasons, when we eat food when it's at the peak of its taste, at its most abundant and at its least expensive.
  • Whenever I go into Jamba Juice I wonder why they don't change their menu more often (to reflect seasonal changes). I understand there is evidence that frozen fruit and vegetables are as healthy as when they are fresh, but isn't it hard to consistently offer (for example) mangoes or pineapple in December? Wouldn't it be easier and healthier to make seasonal adjustments to the menu?
I'm delighted to report that I went into Jamba Juice today to get a blueberry smoothie and found a letter from Paul Clayton, the CEO, that explained that the menu would have to change. "When it comes to passion-fruit - a key ingredient in many of our smoothies - we buy only the best and that means at this time of year we look to Ecuador. Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not always cooperate with our plans. Due to prolonged drought conditions in the region, this year's passion-fruit crop was extremely small, leaving us with a shortage. In order to continue providing you the best possible freshly made smoothies, we have made slight adjustments to two or our recipes".

I applaud Jamba Juice for doing this! I wish they would do it more often. I would be happier to buy whatever is in season over a fruit that was bought months ago from the other side of the world, then frozen and dragged all the way over here.

The bottom line: I thank Jamba Juice for making it easier to get our five servings a day of fruits and vegetables and for giving us a quick, convenient option to getting our food.

No comments: