Juicing is nothing new. As far back as the 1960s and ‘70s, small numbers of devotees believed in the healing and nutritional powers of juice fasts, typically running carrots, apples and supplements such as spirulina through large, unwieldy juicers. In the 1990s, Jack LaLanne, “the Godfather of Fitness,” widened the appeal of juicing through his Power Juicer infomercials.
Nowadays, and particularly over the last five years, the fresh juice concept has resurfaced in a big way and exploded into a multimillion-dollar industry in the U.S., with many options conveniently bottled for retail sale.
The wave hit the Big Island several years ago and continues to swell in North Hawaii.
Almost three years ago, Waimea resident Brian J. Otting founded Kohana Wai, a local 100 percent raw and organic cold-pressed juice company, and began selling his bottled drinks at the Midweek Farmers Market at Pukalani Stables.
Several years prior, he traveled through Asia learning the importance of live organic foods and herbs from local shamans, Chinese medicine practitioners and energy healers. With additional research and training from doctors and health care professionals, he developed his cold-pressing juice business to provide nutraceutical-grade nutrition to the local community.
“Cold-pressing is the process of extracting nutrient-rich juice on a cellular level from organic local vegetables, fruits, herbs and nuts using hydraulic press technology,” Otting said. “This process unleashes all the hidden nutrients for the body to assimilate, while nourishing the immune system. With our machine you receive 75 to 100 percent more principal elements, enzymes, vitamins and phytonutrients than juicers or blenders. Our juice is pressed-to-order and never pasteurized.
“All insoluble fiber is removed so the body’s energy can be used for healing and strengthening rather than digesting,” he said. “Our bodies require vital nutrients to function at their optimal level and we believe the best health, the best nutrition, should be available to everyone.”
Kohana Wai sources their ingredients from local, organic, sustainable farmers to produce more than 20 juice varieties. Each 16-ounce bottle is made from a minimum of three pounds of produce, with prices ranging from $6.25 to $9.25. Creative juice names include Mega Green, Restore, Immune, Earth, Balance, Purify, Endurance, Belly Bliss, Popeye’s Blend and The Skinny, as well as almond and cashew “mylks.” A complimentary sample pack of six flavors are available with a $6 deposit that’s refunded when the bottles are returned for recycling. They also offer cleanse packages and monthly services online.
On Aug. 1, Otting opened his first retail outlet in Honoka‘a, Kohana Wai Cold-Pressed Juice Bar and Lounge.
“My main goal is connecting lifestyle and community through nutrition in Honoka‘a and surrounding areas. The Honoka‘a store is a place of sanctuary for full body nutrition, relaxing and talking story,” Otting said.
He has big plans for the future. In September, he will launch Kohana Wai Farms, growing their own produce and providing jobs for the local community. In January he plans to start a mobile juice bar traveling islandwide.
Otting inspired two loyal customers to open their own cold-pressed juice company, Squeeze, in North Hawaii in April 2013. Restaurant owner Lisa Vann and her business partner, naturopathic physician Dr. Heather Manley, run the operation.
“I fell in love with the flavors, feeling nourished and wanted to make it myself,” sais Vann. “It’s such a pleasure to share it with others.”
Available at Homestead Farmers Market on Saturdays, Midweek Farmers Market at Pukalani Stables on Wednesdays, and through weekly subscriptions online, flavors include their most popular flavor, Green, Greener, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Yellow and Holiday Blend, in addition to almond and cashew milks and flavored waters. Prices range from $8.50 to $9 individually with discounts on subscriptions.
For many, doing a “cleanse,” also known as a “liquid fasting,” is a natural next step. “The overall goal is to relax and detoxify the body while allowing the digestive system time to heal and regenerate. Solid foods, alcohol, energy drinks and caffeine are replaced with nutrient-rich, cold pressed drinks only for one-, three- or five-day cleanses,” Dr. Manley says. “Benefits can include increased energy and stamina; better mental clarity; better sleep; and improved digestion.”
As an added service at Squeeze, Dr. Heather Manley answers nutritional questions and assists with quality supplements for clients using their juices for cleanses.
So whether locals want a daily nutrient boost or a deep cleanse, North Hawaii has more healthy options than ever before.
Squeezed Juices is available at Homestead Farmers Market on Saturdays 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., Midweek Farmers Market at Pukalani Stables on Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or online at www.squeezedhawaii.com.
Kohana Wai is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Weekly orders and discounted monthly programs can also be placed online at www.kohanawai.com with delivery between Hualalai and Honoka’a. The address is 45-3565 Mamane St., Honoka’a, (808) 365-3884.