After a few doctor visits and constant problems with prescription medicines, my friend, Dave, has decided to pay attention to what he eats, hoping to cut down on some of the more unpleasant side effects and, perhaps, become healthy enough to stop taking some meds altogether. Years of airplane peanuts and convenience store lunches have taken their toll on him, and he was feeling old before his time. So he did what many people in his condition have done: He bought a juicer.
He loves it and now he can't wait to spread the message of juicing to everyone who comes in his house. I suspect in the next few weeks he may start showing up at a complete stranger's back door, wearing a white shirt and a skinny black tie, and ask them if they've heard the good news about juices.
Me? I like juice, but I have never had a juicer. I'm a blender person. But mine is 30 years old, maybe older. I think it was made by Atwater Kent. I used to make smoothies in it. A little ice, a little milk, some fruit, yummy. But I hadn't used it for a few years. Last week, I found a recipe for a smoothie that called for frozen banana chunks. This blender couldn't handle them, and frozen banana chunks are marshmallows compared to ice. So I was in the market for something new. Maybe a juicer is just the thing to replace my failing blender.
"See, you can put anything in it and it all tastes good," Dave says, throwing in some apple slices, a few chunks of pear and a handful of seedless grapes. Whrrr, whrrr, whrrr. Juice comes out one side; apple-pear-grape pulp comes out the other.
"Try it, see how great it tastes."
"It does taste good. But so does an apple. How do you know you're not throwing away the best part?"
Dave gives me that look you'd give to someone who just told you that you had an ugly baby. Could I not tell the difference between plain old fruit and fruit juice? Seriously? I guess he was expecting my "come to juices" moment and it didn't happen. Obviously, I would take more work.
"It's not just fruit; it works with everything," he says, throwing in pieces of raw broccoli, cauliflower and celery and adding it to the apple, pear and grape cocktail.
Another swig and it did taste surprisingly good.
"Let's add a little tomato and green pepper." Whrrr, whrrr, whrrr. Less good, but still a healthy-tasting drink. I could almost feel lost strength coming back to my legs, increased vigor, deeper breaths. If I did this every day, if I stopped eating bacon cooked in sugar, cheese-covered everything, junk food snacks and late night cookie dough ice cream, I could see myself living to 150.
Maybe Dave is onto something here.
"See what I'm saying? Watch this." Dave throws in a cucumber. I take another sip. My sciatica disappears. My lower back pain goes away. My skin is starting to look young and healthy. My hair is turning brown again. I've probably grown 2 or 3 inches. I'm getting into it now. What else can we throw in there? The pulp side is almost full now; there's not much room. Dave gets a gleam in his eye. He can see I'm a convert. He reaches into the fridge and pulls out a bag of dark green lettuce.
"Wait till you try this. Kale! It's a miracle food. You barely have to eat anything else." Whrrr. Whrrr. Whrrr.
I take a sip -- of the most disgusting stuff known to man. This is not a food; it's a chemical weapon. The miracle is that anyone is able to choke it down. It sucked all the flavor out of all the other fruit and vegetables and added its own peculiar stink.
Within seconds my skin re-wrinkled, the sciatica returned, my hair turned white, and I shrunk several inches.
I'm going to try blending my bananas again.
Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.