Spring is near. As the days draw longer and the sun glows warmer, the folks of Birmingham will no doubt seek the green spaces of city parks and trails — to take a rest, to break a sweat. Amanda Blake Turner hopes to tap into that health conscious community with her new business, Sprout & Pour. While serving raw fruit and vegetable juices, Turner recently said she hopes to educate the community on the benefits of consuming whole foods.
Sprout & Pour will be the city’s first juice-exclusive business — a drinking hole for those who want the glowing buzz of beet juice, instead of, say, a latte, Red Bull or gin and tonic.
While advocates for holistic diets of raw food are on the rise, Turner said incorporating juicing into her diet, and launching a small juice business, was more than entering into trendy consumption.
This past fall, Turner fell ill. “In September, I miscarried, and we don’t know why. In October, I was fine. November came, and I got sick. It was like the flu, worse. It was taking me down. I went to the doctor and was misdiagnosed with walking pneumonia. I was put on strong antibiotics. I went to an internist because the medicine wasn’t working, and he said, ‘Your body looks great. There’s nothing wrong with you.’But I can’t get out of bed, I thought. I’m sick,” Turner said.
Over the following weeks, Turner recalled being given a number of tests, all the while her flu-like symptoms were worsening, and she was bedridden. When a doctor finally prescribed her with medications for anxiety, Turner said her sister stepped in with a suggestion — juicing.
“Genetically, I think we can be predisposed to anxiety and panic attacks. My sister had been through it, and she said, ‘I think we can do this through nutrition,’” Turner said.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, okay. Whatever. It’s just juice. It’s not going to help me build my system back up.’ … When a doctor’s telling you your body is fine, but you can’t get out of bed, you think the worst.”
Bothered by the prospect of long-term anti-anxiety medication, Turner’s family began — with the guidance of online nutrition resources — to juice at home in between meals by extracting the juice from fruits and vegetables that were missing from their diets. Within two weeks, she said, she was feeling better. By the end of December, she was herself again, returning to her normal life.
Prior to the illness, that normal life, Turner said, was good. She was, by most accounts, a happy and healthy 36-year-old — an avid trail runner, staying at home, raising her 2-year-old daughter. Before becoming a mother, Turner was a volunteer art instructor at Space One Eleven and a teacher for local public school systems for nearly a decade.
After what she calls a miraculous recovery, Turner began reaching out to doctors for answers. “I started talking to people about what we were doing,” Turner said, “and I found out there’s a community of juicers, the raw and whole food community who embraces cellular nutrition. Some were people I ran with. Some were people in my church community group. I have a friend who completely healed from Crohn’s disease from eating raw and whole foods.”
That friend is Jordan Van Horn, owner of a Florida-based Iron Tribe franchise and consultant with the local Shindigs Catering. Now 31 and working toward creating a pasture-based meat farm in the greater Birmingham-area, Van Horn was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder Crohn’s Disease at 17 and spent 10 years on an immunosuppressant to control his symptoms. After a routine colonoscopy in 2010, Van Horn said a doctor expressed concerns about the amount of inflammation in his digestive track — as well as the possibility of birth defects caused by the medications, were Van Horn and his wife to conceive.
So, with the support of his wife, the Van Horns began to follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (as outlined in the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle). Within six months, 85 percent of his colon was restored to health. A year later, Van Horn said his doctor approved him to go off of medication and eventually deemed him in remission after three years of strictly adhering to the diet.
An active member of Iron Tribe, Van Horn says he’s in the best shape of his life. “My experience,” he said, “has been an amazing example of the body’s ability to restore itself by adhering to a whole-foods based diet of fruit, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats, and we’re big advocates for businesses like Sprout & Pour who are committed to educating consumers of those benefits and making a difference in the health of our community.”
It’s stories like Van Horn’s that inspire Turner, who said she envisions Sprout & Pour as educational source — or at least a conversation starter — for those interested in the raw and whole foods movement.
“A huge part of what we want to do is educate the community. We would definitely try to be a venue at UAB, health fairs, the Lakeshore Foundation and inner city programs that are starting their own farms like Cornerstone or Jones Valley,” she said.
In order to ensure Sprout & Pour consumers are privy to what they’re drinking, Turner will publish all the ingredients and nutritional information of drinks — reviewed by a registered dietitian.
The menu itself will consist of cold-pressed juice extracted from the fruits and vegetables from local farms Owl’s Hollow and Snow’s Bend. The leftover pulp from the extraction will either return to farms as compost or be used in baked goods. One drink, Turner said, contains a mix of apples, celery, cucumber, ginger, lemon, lime, parsley and spinach, and is dubbed “It’s All Good.”
The nutritional merit of consuming raw, fresh fruits and vegetables is, indeed, all good. Some argue, however, that juicing is no better than simply eating those foods. According to a study done by the Mayo Clinic, “There’s no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself. On the other hand, if you don’t enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables, juicing may be a fun way to add them to your diet or to try fruits and vegetables you normally wouldn’t eat.”
“I’m all about the healthy balance,” Turner said. “I know there’s a lot of information out there about different juice detoxes and cleanses. … For us, and what I’m trying to promote, [it’s] that if you’re not getting it in your diet, then maybe you should consider juice.”
“It’s a product we’re producing for the community — to enjoy, to share, to educate, to talk about and to keep the movement going with raw and local foods, with farming.”