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Talking Juice with My Liquid Garden’s Anne Marie Portnoy

GC: Tell us about why you started My Liquid Garden and what your mission is.

AMP: I moved [to Park City] from San Francisco, where there are so many amazing juice shops, and when I moved here my husband and I had a five-year-old daughter. Initially, we were just coming here for a few months to ski, but we loved Park City so much, and we realized it’s a much easier place to raise a family than San Francisco, so we decided to stay. Around that time I got really into health documentaries and I started juicing for my family. Soon after, one of my daughter’s schoolmates got sick, and all of the families got together and started bringing food to the family. I’m not a great cook, so I asked if I could bring juices, and that sort of forced me to experiment at home with how to make the best juice possible. When you have to make [juice] for someone else, it’s more thoughtful and mindful, and then you have to bottle it.

There’s nothing more simple, or honest, or truthful than an organic fruit or vegetable. You don’t have to be a doctor or a nutritionist to know that. Your intuition tells you that.[addtoany]

I started putting the juice in mason jars and closing it with something secure, because I was leaving it on the on the front step, because I didn’t want to bother the family. This kind of forced me to figure out packaging, and I delivered juice to the family once a week for a year. I was used to getting juices in San Francisco whenever I wanted, but that’s what inspired me to make juices for other people.

GC: That’s a great story!

AMP: I’m not a nutritionist, I’m not a doctor, all I go based on is my intuition, and we have this saying that “juice is truth.” There’s nothing more simple, or honest, or truthful than an organic fruit or vegetable. You don’t have to be a doctor or a nutritionist to know that. Your intuition tells you that. I wasn’t very confident in my knowledge base, so it kind of took me a while to say, “no, everyone knows this.” Other people started asking me to juice for them, I was like “yeah, sure I can do that.” I started out in mason jars. It had cute little figures printed, so that I could label them. I did my content and my logos. Then I was juicing in my kitchen by myself and then I got my housekeeper to help me with marketing, but I quickly realized I couldn’t make juices in my kitchen anymore, because the health inspector doesn’t like that. I started renting a commercial kitchen, the shop came a year and a half later. I was just renting the commercial kitchen and it just kept growing, and growing, and growing– that’s how the shop was born.

GC: What were the types of juices that you were bringing to the family? Were they things you knew were extra potent or healing?

AMP: I was researching juice to cure cancer, and all of this information came up: The Gerson Miracle is an awesome documentary about Dr. Max Gerson and health therapies administered through juicing. When I first started juicing for this family I was doing all this research for that, but then I realized that kids don’t like to drink kale juice with a little bit of lemon in it, so I ended up just juicing for the parents. Thankfully, their son is okay now– I didn’t cure him with my juice, but the parents later told me that it really helped them get through.

GC: What’s interesting about Park City is that it’s rapidly expanding– it has always had the skiers and Sundance to bring people in, but I think increasingly the types of people that live in San Francisco and New York come out here and are really intrigued by how livable it is, and these are the kind of people who love juice. What has been your most popular juice in this community? What does Park City like to drink?

AMP: In San Francisco, a lot of people are very into the green juices. In Park City, people don’t really drink that. When I first started out, I thought, “it would be great to have kids drink juice”. Even if it’s a lot of fruit, it’s still pasteurized vs. unpasteurized, and there’s a big difference. I wanted to have a wide variety. Park City is a very fit town with a lot of athletes into the outdoors. It’s kind of a tough place to live, because you feel like if you’re not doing anything you’re not really a part of it! So I think people in Park City are very into nutrition, and they like a lot of green juices, but also the sweeter, fun ones. I think also, because people are so active, they think it’s okay to drink beet juice, carrot juice, or apple because they’re so active.

GC: Can you name a few fruits that are popular with children? Do kids really go for the tropical fruits?

AMP: I used to offer this package called “Taste The Rainbow”, which was seven 4-oz juices in every different color, and it had this laminated piece that would say what was in each juice and what it was good for– for example, one of them had spinach, which gives you strong bones. It was cute, because they were red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Because these were designed to appeal to kids, we definitely kept them on the sweeter side. My 5-year-old drinks all of my juices, but she’s not a fan of ginger. She says it looks like dirty water. I think that if you start your kids off drinking more of the sweeter juices, then eventually you can incorporate less fruit and more veggies, slowly weaning them to change palates.

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GC: How are you packaging your juices now?

AMP: Although a lot of people were sad to see the mason jars go, I really like our bottles now. They have our logo and we ask for a bottle deposit so that people can return them. It’s glass, so you can also reuse it.

GC: Where do you source your local produce?

AMP: Getting organic produce in the mountainous high desert has been a huge challenge. There’s one local, organic farm, which is actually where in the summertime we take our pulp and feed their chickens. It’s the coolest thing to see chickens eat little pieces of kale. I’m like, “I want to eat that chicken.” (I don’t eat much meat, but when I do that’s the chicken I want to eat.) In the summertime, we do try to use the local organic farm, which is called Copper Moose Farm. They’re carrots are amazing! When we make our juices with fresh, local carrots it’s a night-and-day difference– it’s so good!

GC: Do you plan your juices according to what the farm has available, or do you go to the market in search of something?

AMP: At Copper Moose, I just go there and she does a lot of greens, and greens hold a lot of juice, and I love using her carrots. She also said she would grow some celery for me, because the celery juice is very strong when she does that. They’re very open and willing, they’re a great little farm. I’ll take 50 pounds of carrots or something, and she’ll give it to me in a big bucket that I can take and return. In the summer they have a stand where they sell their fruits and vegetables, and then they allow us to sell our juices there, as well.

GC: What’s a good, kid-friendly recipe for juice?

AMP: Here’s one recipe that was a hit this Spring:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cucumber (depending on the size of the cucumber)
  • 1/2 green apple
  • 1 pear (we like Anjou right now, but you can use any pear varietal that strikes your fancy)

GC: What is your favorite My Liquid Garden juice?

AMP: My go-to is Mina’s Delight. It has kale, spinach, lemon, apple, celery. It’s a great combo and it’s named after my stepmom. My daughter calls her Mina.

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