By Jenny Wagner
Beaver County Times, Pa.
It might be hard for some people to think of red beets as a treat, but by combining them with organic cacao, sweet strawberries and other ingredients in a cold-pressed juice, Meg Grimes is hoping she can change their minds.
That particular juice, a deep reddish pink one, is known as “Bloody Valentine,” and is one of Grimes’ favorite recipes.
“I think it tastes like a chocolate-covered strawberry,” she said.
The 26-year-old owner and operator of Herban Touch Juice Lab has been making and selling juices at a few local businesses since May. But on Tuesday, she will open the doors to the new home of Herban Touch at 439 Third St. in Beaver, located on the second floor of the rear entrance.
Grimes, a Beaver County native, started juicing fruits and vegetables for herself at home about five years ago to get more nutrient density in her diet. About three years ago, she got a better cold-press juicer as a Christmas gift and immediately noticed benefits such as clearer skin and more energy, she said.
“I feel like a lot of our farming techniques in the U.S. now just suck all of the nutrients out of our food,” Grimes said. “I truly believe that we can get everything we need from our food if we know how to process it, which is why I think juicing is such a great thing because you can get all of the nutrients that you should be able to get from lesser produce, from say, another country, or without pesticides.”
While juicing has become increasingly popular in recent years, Grimes said it’s much easier to have someone do it for you.
“It’s kind of my whole business model. I started it because I was juicing for myself and I was like, it’s kind of a pain in the butt to do it for one person, and it’s not much more of a pain in the butt to do it for 300,” she said. “It takes more time but it’s pretty much the same amount of mess.”
Still, one of Grimes’ biggest challenges in business so far — aside from getting people to take her seriously as a young entrepreneur — is getting people to try juices.
“People definitely have an aversion to it,” she said.
Grimes tries to balance the juices that contain vegetables with fruits and natural sweeteners such as honey and agave.
“You can do something good for your body and still feel like you’re getting a treat. It doesn’t have to be a brownie, but you don’t have to feel like you’re drinking a salad either.”
Another juice staple for Herban Touch, “Chlorophyll,” contains about a quarter pound of spinach in each bottle. But four to five apples and lemongrass essential oil mask the spinach taste, Grimes explained.
Coming up with recipes is always a trial-and-error process, but Grimes said she plans to change up the menu every few months to keep up with seasonal produce. All the greens used in the juices are organic, Grimes said, and they buy local as much as possible.
“A lot of the time it’s the (recipes) that I think are going to be amazing that are disgusting,” she said of some recipe ideas.
Herban Touch will offer more than just juice, though, including a variety of fresh salads and homemade dressings, smoothies, immunity shots and hummus made by employee and “hummus master” Jade Cageao.
“She makes the best hummus in the world,” Grimes said.
Grimes also works at Free Spirit Acupuncture and Wellness Center, which is located next door to Herban Touch. She wasn’t planning to open a brick-and-mortar business just yet, she said, but when the space came available she couldn’t pass it up. About half of the space will be shared with a new studio for Alyssa Florentine Photography.
The building, together with Sangha Center for Yoga and Wellness on the third floor, has become a wellness center in town, Grimes said.
Grimes said her goal is to bring health to the community in a fun and creative way.
“I want people to know that healthy food doesn’t have to be disgusting, it can actually taste good, too,” she said.
It’s also fast, she noted.
“The thing that we’re kind of trying to establish is that health doesn’t have to be inconvenient,” Grimes said. “Fast food can be raw food.”