Sweet, sweet nectar
Sisters bring cold-pressed juice to Saturday farmers’ market
Two weeks ago at the Saturday morning farmers’ market in downtown Chico, a return customer was telling the owners of Live Life Juice Co. how much she liked one of the previous week’s specialty offerings, a light-green, cucumber- and celery-based concoction.
“I was so thirsty after yoga, I put most of it back right then, and it just was so refreshing,” she exclaimed.
“That’s why we call it So Fresh and So Clean,” responded co-owner Abigail Rasmussen, referring to the name of the juice blend.
So the conversations went as an unrelenting flow of customers stopped by the Live Life booth, a clear sign that, since debuting at the market a few months ago, the juice has been a hit. The owners—sisters Abigail, Angelina and Autumn Rasmussen—have been scrambling in a shared kitchen space in south Chico to keep up with demand. Each week they’ve sold out of increasingly large volumes of juice; most recently, they sold 60 gallons in about five hours.
Live Life offers three regular flavors and two weekly specials in 16- and 32-ounce glass bottles for $6 and $12 (you get a 50 cent refund for each rinsed bottle you return). Most of the juices are characterized by a balance of fruits and vegetables that doesn’t taste overly sweet, such as standby Turn the Beet Around, which contains beets, apples, lemons, ginger, beet greens and purple kale. Another, called Liquid Gold, is made up of carrots, oranges, pineapples and turmeric. But they’ll occasionally offer a sweeter treat like the Sweet Sip, which is mostly citrus fruit with a hint of ginger.
The sisters Rasmussen have worked together in a variety of restaurant settings and have always known they’d start a business together in the food and beverage industry. What exactly they’d sell wasn’t clear until about a year ago, when Angelina set her sites on cold-pressed juice. She’d tried some at a juice bar in Hawaii and then researched more about the process.
“Cold-pressed juice is what’s happening now,” she explained. “Just the convenience of it—people walk up and they don’t have to wait for us to juice it, we just pour it. And it’s not dead, it’s not pasteurized, it’s still raw and vibrant, and you don’t have to drink it that day.”
Indeed, how to deliver raw juice to the masses was a bit of a problem before juice bars started cold-pressing on a commercial scale. Unpasteurized juices have a shorter shelf life and are more susceptible to contamination from harmful microorganisms, while the pasteurization process—heating the liquid until it kills the bacteria that cause it to spoil—may also decrease the presence of beneficial minerals, vitamins and enzymes.
And so juice bars in metropolitan areas across the country (even at chains like Jamba Juice) are now using the cold-pressing process, which applies great pressure, rather than heat, to the fruit and vegetable pulp. The result is a product with a longer shelf life that doesn’t sacrifice the good stuff. Abigail says Live Life juice will keep for about a week if it’s sealed and refrigerated.
Live Life opened last June at the seasonal farmers’ market at North Valley Plaza, and the sisters quickly built a customer base, even though they were still in the early stages of experimentation.
“We’ve learned so much even since opening at the Saturday market,” Angelina said. “It’s mostly been trial-and-error, and we’re still refining the process, still refining how much we can make in a certain time.”
Their ultimate goal is to move into a brick-and-mortar space, preferably somewhere near downtown Chico. As soon as the right place is available, the sisters will quit their jobs and pursue the juicing business full time.
In the meantime, they’ll cherish the social aspect of working at the market and interacting with their repeat customers each week.
“For me, that was one of the biggest driving forces for starting this business,” Angelina said. “I love Chico and I want to be a part of it, contributing something that enriches this community.”