As people have become more informed about healthy food preparation and farming processes, organic eating options have surged in popularity at grocery stores. But transitioning to organic eating is still a big time commitment, as few restaurants offer organic dishes for the busy professional on the run. The owners of True Food & Juice Company in Woodbury are trying to change that.
The organic eatery makes clean eating easy for patrons throughout the day. Open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday the menu includes breakfast items like acai bowls, wraps and sandwiches for lunch, and even a whole spiced organic chicken as a dinner option. Customers can sit and eat or take their food to go.
“Really, healthy eating is a balance of all the things that we’re doing,” said Michelle Walrath, who co-owns the business with partners Fran Paniccia and James Tchinnis, owner of Swallow Restaurant in Huntington Village. “The combination of [organic] food and juicing has to do with bringing yourself to a higher level of health.”
For Walrath, True Food & Juice is a dream 15 years in the making. Living in California after college, the organic juice options there inspired her to bring cleaner eating options home to Long Island. A year ago, she and Paniccia focused on finding the space and worked with Tchinnis to plan and balance the menu. True Food & Juice opened this past May.
All of the juice on the menu is cold pressed, whether it’s part of a juice blend or included in a smoothie.
“It’s an intense labor of love,” Walrath said of the process.
It starts with carefully weighing out and prepping the produce according to eight unique juice recipes designed by the owners. The ingredients are then slowly grinded in a machine to create a pulp. Once the pulp is created, the grinder is shut off and a juicer is turned on to squeeze juice out of the pulp. There is no heat introduced in the process so each ingredient retains the maximum amount of nutrients. Each recipe calls for 25 pounds of fruits and vegetables, which make about 20 bottles. There is about a pound and a half of produce in one bottle.
It’s a lot of work for a company whose goal is to make organic options easy.
“It doesn’t have to be intimidating,” Walrath said. “It’s about little choices each week that add up to a whole lifestyle.”
At True Food & Juice Company, the owners are passionate about educating the community on clean eating. For people who are just beginning to buy organic, she recommends starting with the food you eat most, and then slowly transitioning everything else, including dairy and meat products. One of the ultimate goals of the company is to get so many people eating at an organic level that the prices of the products drop. Though the eatery has not yet been open six months, Walrath is already thinking about opening more locations across the Island and contracting with local school districts to provide organic options on lunch menus. A speaker series is beginning in the fall. Local professionals will come to the restaurant to talk to customers about different aspects of healthy living.
But no matter what the future holds, Walrath is happy to be making a difference in Woodbury.
“We’re so honored that people say ‘you’re changing our life that we can be on the run, be on the go all day and have a [healthy] place to eat.’”