Folks in the Madison area who are looking for ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diets can turn to one of several establishments offering juices, smoothies, and other healthy alternatives. Three such places are Forage Kitchen on State Street, SuperCharge! Foods on East Washington Avenue, and Saints Madison Juice Company on Williamson Street. Each has a slightly different approach to health and wellness, but all carry juices.
Forage Kitchen was started in October 2015 by Doug Hamaker and Henry Aschauer, from New Jersey and Maine respectively. Both were students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who had seen the campus as teenagers when older siblings were attending in the early 2000s. “We’re proud and happy we came here,” says Doug.
Doug and Henry liked the simplicity of the name Forage Kitchen, and are passionate about supporting local farmers and purveyors. In fact, Forage Kitchen purchases sunflower sprouts from SuperCharge! Foods.
Salads, grain bowls, and acai bowls (a thick smoothie that’s been topped with granola, fruit, or nut butter and eaten with a spoon) along with kombucha (a fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened tea drink), smoothies, and cold-pressed juices are on the Forage Kitchen menu. “We try to have juices available every day. Producing juice is labor intensive, so we don’t make that much of it. But it is a good way to get people into the store who only want to juice. Maybe they will see something else on the menu they want to try and then will return,” says Doug.
Doug and Henry have invested in equipment to produce kombucha on a larger scale than just what is sold at Forage Kitchen. The brand Forage Kombucha will be available in local groceries, coffee shops, and restaurants this spring. In addition, the two have invested in a greenhouse with John Correa of Holistic Harvest. “John was a cook at the restaurant in the winter, is passionate about farming, and grows incredible stuff. By next fall, Forage Kitchen will be reaping the benefits of his produce,” Doug says proudly.
SuperCharge! Foods is not only a juice and smoothie bar, but a one-of-a-kind urban farm and community space. TJ DiCiaula and P.T. Bjerke began their business in 2009 by growing microgreens they sold at the Dane County Farmers’ Market. They opened the storefront in 2015. The two met in the mid-1990s in LaCrosse. Both had been athletes and found that good nutrition could impact their performance. TJ was also an advocate of nutritional supplements.
Both men believed it would be possible to grow food to feed people’s physical needs as well as satisfy them on an emotional and spiritual level. TJ had worked with Kevin Keune, a biodynamic farmer in Shiocton, Wisconsin, who uses vortex water (essentially a whirlpool) in his process of growing microgreens.
“Our microgreens, used in our smoothies and salads, are different because of how we are growing them, infusing them with minerals through the water. Also, chefs tell us that other micros last just a few days and sometimes arrive already going bad, especially those from California. Our precut micros will last between one to two weeks depending on the storage method. Actually, our PeaShoots will stay fresh for weeks. That shelf life is something our customers are surprised by,” says P.T. “The most popular are the sunflower microgreens—two leaves and a stem. A well-balanced food, these microgreens are delicious on anything.”
SuperCharge! Foods’ wheatgrass shots are also popular with customers. “It’s one of the best things you can put in your body,” says TJ. “People who know wheatgrass, especially those from California, tell us ours is the best.”
P.T. believes that the SuperCharge! Foods model, with its community space available to rent, can be duplicated in other communities and can reflect the needs of that area. In the meantime his challenge is to get people to understand the value and benefits of adding nutrient-dense foods to their diets. “They don’t have to change their diets completely, just evolve into making healthier choices.”
Joanna Um and Joyce Cullen founded Saints Madison Juice Company mid-2017. “We felt there was an underserved market in Madison, and we were looking for a product category for customers leading busy lifestyles,” says Jo. “We were consumers of cold-pressed juices and saw a need in Madison. We started our business for ourselves as well as to be a service to the health-conscious community,” Joyce adds.
Saints Madison is different from the other two companies profiled because it’s also a juice retailer. Jo and Joyce use a hydraulic press to extract juice from fruits and vegetables without using heat, which reduces nutrients, or adding oxygen, which reduces shelf life, to the product. Customers can order products, including a variety of cold-pressed juices, nut mylks, and juice cleanses, online. Orders will be delivered within a 10-mile radius of the store or can be picked up in person during store hours.
While Jo and Joyce’s goal is to offer a premium, crafted product that tastes consistent from batch to batch, some variation is inevitable due to the origin of the raw product. “Customers are good about understanding this is a natural product. No two carrots or apples are the same. Not every juice is going to taste exactly the same every time,” Joyce says.
Saints Madison is not necessarily advocating for people to be saints, but rather to have balance in their lives. “Neither end of the spectrum—saint or sinner—is that great all the time. We want people to find a place in the middle that leads to a healthy lifestyle,” Jo says. She is delighted that people are connecting the dots and realizing what they eat is what their bodies run on, the fuel that keeps them running during the day.
Educating their customers is important to all of the owners of these three businesses. “People should know what’s in their food,” TJ says.
“It can be challenging when customers push back on price, so we need to help them understand that good, quality, locally sourced ingredients may be more costly for us than purchasing commodity food,” Doug says.
“People are becoming increasingly mindful of what they are putting in their bodies, and that’s going to continue creating more space for products like ours, all natural and unprocessed,” says Joyce.
According to experts, the cold-press juice industry will continue to evolve over the next five years based on consumer preferences. While most juice and smoothie bars are located in sunny states, like Texas, California, and Florida (nearly 50 percent of the industry), Madison has certainly established itself as well.
Jeanne Engle is a freelance writer.
665 State Street
Madison, WI 53703
1902 E. Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53704
Saints Madison Juice Co.
821 Williamson Street
Madison, WI 53703