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juice, juice, baby.

By 2:51 PM , , , , , , , ,

Finally, the long-awaited juicer arrives today. This thing that I've been trying to incorporate into my daily life for a good 10 months is now really happening.

What moved me into action was the little voice that kept whispering,
"Yo, do something about this thing you call your body."
Yo, it's true. I've taken a beating from allergies this past year. And when my body's drained from fighting one thing, it falls prey to a host of other pestilence. I took pride in the fact that I hadn't gotten sick in three years, but it all came to a screeching halt last week.

As a result of working a double-shift every day (on-site for 8 hours and coming home and working another 8 hours) for weeks and sleeping maybe 3+ hours, on a good night, I crapped out.

While I'm 1000 times happier and productive than I was a year ago, I have a history of diving into work and not coming back up for air. That's why after each film production I've needed three months to catch my breath. It's my own doing. And I had to undo it, pronto, without meds, without hospitals.  When you work for yourself, health insurance and maintenance is 100% your deal.

Why a juicer?
  1. We (99% of the US population) do not eat enough vegetables every day.
  2. If we did, we'd be chewing our jaws off without a moment's rest.
  3. Juicing knocks 1 & 2 off the list, plus, in liquid form, nutrients are more easily absorbed and digested by your compromised body, therefore allowing it to focus on actually repairing itself.
And why have I put it off?
  1. A good solid juicer's 'spensive.
  2. It takes up more space in my ever-shrinking kitchen.
  3. I love shopping for, cooking and eating food.
When you're sick, you will say or do anything to feel better. Which is why it was time to tackle this short list.

Point #1: Can I afford it?
As per usual, I did an exhaustive amount of research to pinpoint the best piece of equipment at its performance level; and it inevitably yielded the result on the other side of affordability.

I honed in on this model – the Breville Ikon Juice Extractor.
You can drop a whole apple in the feed tube, no cutting. It can juice soft fruit, hard veg, leafy greens and citrus. My previous model only took firm produce. No citrus, no herbs.
IKON – Just right.
But my little Suze Orman voice kept yelling at me, "You can't afford it!" Suze doesn't think you can afford a latte if your retirement isn't secure.
Stop yelling at me, Suze.
She says "People first, then money, then things." Well, my body is people too! I'd rather shell out good money for organic berries now than Zoloft later. (check)

Point #2: Where will it go?
Since H moved in, the counter-top real estate has gotten cozier. And I admit, it has less to do with H and mostly about me and my appliance fetish. It's definitely part of the Japanese DNA, so there's no use fighting that. Suck it up. Move things around, then move on (check).

Point #3: Will I still enjoy food?
I'm not going "all liquid diet", so I will still eat solid food (check). And I'll be shopping for more organic and in-season produce and doing so more frequently (check).

Truth, I love a good juice just as much as good food (check). I even owned a juicer over a decade ago. It stuck around for a while. But when juicers were not accessible to the masses and only sold through specialty health stores, I could only afford a low-end model. I gave it away a few years back, because of its limited capacity, capability (nothing leafy or soft) and performance (lots of waste). I couldn't juice all that I wanted to juice, so it was only partially useful. Most of all I hated cleaning it.
"Then just quit yer whining and get one," you say.
Well, I was about to, when something I didn't anticipate became my greatest challenge of all.
Bonus – Point #4: Where's my IKON?
Sold out.

10 months ago, I could walk into any B3 and buy an Ikon off the shelf. Or, price-compare on Amazon and ruminate about what juices I could make, and then enjoy a tall green beverage that week.

But when I was finally ready to move forward with this health movement, there was an even greater juice movement sweeping the entire nation. There were no Ikons anywhere. Nationwide, no kidding. When I found out about it, my friends and I remarked that the fever was Japanese-style. (scary!) And my only choice was to either enter the black market (void-warranty, 300% markup on Ebay), or sit tight until May. Anybody who knows me knows that by May, I'll be obsessing about something entirely different in my life.

The Juice Fountain, the Ikon's baby sister model, was the first to fly off the shelves. This isn't as sturdy or versatile; which means that I'll be jonesin' to upgrade or replace in a handful of years. Mostly plastic.
JUICE FOUNTAIN – Featured model in FS&ND.
And when those were sold out, the Ikon, next level up, started flying off the shelves.

Then, went the high-end Elite, the big brother model, with every gleaming part made with stainless steel and a commanding presence.
ELITE – Observe the Space Odyssey shot
"2010" is the future that is already in the past...
The Elite will rule over your daily nutritional intake. Overkill, yes. Big Brother, indeed. The Elite is the juicing equivalent of driving a Hummer to go to the corner store.

Customer service reps all sounded the same,
"Sorry, it's back-ordered. We've never seen it go this fast"
"Oh, it's because of that article..." what article?
"You saw that film..." what film?
"The manufacturer can't keep up the production..."
As I searched further on blogs and product reviews for any one of the Breville series and none was available, I began to see the common thread that ran through those who purchased this machine.

That thread lead me to a little unknown film called "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead". Well, apparently, it was unknown only to me. Everybody and their fat, sick and nearly dead uncle in America saw it and went out and bought the Juice Fountain, which was featured in practically every frame. An obscure indie documentary from down-under? How in the world did I miss it? I say this with zero sarcasm.

The frenzy at which consumers gobbled up this juicer can be credited to the story of Joe Cross, one Australian businessman with a weight problem and a rash.
Anyway, frenzied by that frenzy, I checked out the film that night. It happened to be on my Netflix queue – it probably made its way via their recommendation because I'm a doc junkie. It lurked somewhere deep in my cinematic landscape, but the crude poster and title must've pushed it off the horizon.

Joe is a real affable hero and his story sucked me in. Who doesn't love a good before and after tale. As it turns out, there's a good looking guy underneath the top layer of fat. Not only did he shed over 100 lbs, he looks 10, 15 years younger after 60 days of pure juicing. The film was like a tasteful infomercial, or a feel-good buddy film between Joe and Phil, a morbidly obese truck driver he met along the way. There are a lot of enticing bits tossed in to make an unwilling audience stop, put down its bacon double cheeseburger and listen. But there's more homework to do. You can't just drink high-sugar fruit smoothies and call it a healthy diet. You still have to balance nutrition, exercise and knowledge to find your sweet spot for success.

After the credits rolled, I started to suspect this was a marketing ploy by Breville, also an Australian brand. Was the film sponsored by Breville? Did Mr. Cross own stock in Breville. I don't like it when my frenzy turns into cynicism. So I quickly got back to my original mission.

I said to my self,
"Self, is this about health or is this another sneaky symptom of your consumerism? Do you just want to acquire a new shiny object only to have it gather dust after a few tasty beverages?"
"You mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down with?"
Only time will tell. But I want to believe it's about the former and not the latter. I'm not going to get into the pros and cons of juicing here. I need to do further research and gain a better understanding.

So that night, I ended the hunt for an Ikon. I researched some more and purchased an unknown Korean brand with the same capacity and features (it appears that Koreans are big on juicing as well!). It's not as slick and streamlined, but it's solid and capable. And most importantly, it's in stock and arriving today.

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