IN THE KITCHEN: Meghan Attwater & Lindsay Haley
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Despite blustery conditions outside, RIPE Juicery in downtown Barrie busily serves up a steady stream of customers on a cold and snowy January day. “We thought it would be a bit slow today,” observes Meghan Attwater, 29, who runs the local business with Lindsay Haley, 27, as she welcomes a visiting GoodLife reporter into the shop. “But we have been hopping today. People will trek out in any weather for juice.”
After a brief tour and menu rundown, I sit down with Attwater over energy balls and Yoga Warrior smoothies to hear the story of the raw, organic, cold pressed juicery, which opened in May 2015. “We believe in getting a day's worth of fruits and vegetables in one glass,” says the young entrepreneur with
a smile.   
What led you and Lindsay (who was busy at the counter serving customers during the interview) to open RIPE?
Meghan Attwater: We opened RIPE to make healthy eating really accessible. Before we opened, it was really difficult to get raw, organic, cold pressed juice in this area. Lindsay and I have been good friends for years, and have been raw juicing for a long time. We felt it was time to open the business because the market was ready. The fresh juice and smoothie market is very hot right now, so the timing was perfect.
Why Barrie?
MA: We love Barrie. We have worked in this area for years and both grew up nearby in Collingwood. We also have friends and family in this area.
What's on offer?     
MA: Along with raw, organic, and unpasteurized cold pressed juices, we serve smoothies, salad bowls, fresh soups, energy balls, parfaits, acai bowls, flavoured nut milks and elixirs. We also specialize in juice cleanses. We make everything on-site from scratch, and all items are gluten-free. We are a fresh, raw, healthy, grab and go alternative to fast food.
The interior has a great vibe. I love the exposed brick wall, the white tin ceiling, the living wall, the chalkboards, the reclaimed barn wood accents, and the fridges filled with colourful glass bottles of juice. Can you tell me about the design process?
MA: It's a really cool space. My fiancé owns a construction company and helped us do everything from scratch. With respect to the design, we were going for a rustic, cottage country vibe. Lindsay and I both grew up in the country and both love Muskoka, so we wanted that to be reflected in the interior.
What's your culinary background?
MA: Along with having a love for raw food, we have both worked within the restaurant industry for years. I'm also currently a part-time addictions councillor at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. Prior to RIPE, Lindsay owned a yoga company, specializing in private yoga classes and standup paddleboard yoga.
Why is your juice different from what's available at the grocery store?  
MA: Most juices at grocery stores are flash-pasteurized to reduce pathogens. This method heats the juice to high temperatures, which sterilizes the juice, destroying live enzymes and nutrients, and minimizing flavour. At RIPE, we use a hydraulic cold press juicer which leaves all the vital nutrients and enzymes intact, allowing your body to absorb them efficiently. Our juice remains stable with all nutrients and enzymes alive for 72 hours when kept properly refrigerated. The shelf life is four to five days, but it is best to drink RIPE juice within 72 hours for the full effect.
Why are cold pressed juices and smoothies so popular these days?
MA: I think people are starting to understand the negatives of the chemicals and preservatives that are in so many foods and drinks. For example, it's a little unsettling when you read a label with 17 ingredients and only know what two of the ingredients actually are. When you read our labels, it will say something like carrot, orange, turmeric and ginger, and that's it! And people like that. There's also the nutritional component, as well. In a 16-oz bottle of our juice, there is between three to five pounds of produce per bottle. That's a ton of nutritional value in one beverage!  
What are your most popular juices?
MA: Friendship and Fuel are two of our best-selling juices. Friendship is very green and is made from kale, cucumber, apple, parsley, celery, spinach, lemon and ginger, but it's very easy to drink because it has apple in it. It's called Friendship because it's the very first juice that Lindsay and I made together. Fuel is made from carrot, orange, turmeric and ginger. We sell a lot of Fuel because it tastes amazing and because turmeric is very anti-inflammatory. Our customers who are fighting colds, flus or muscle aches love how anti-inflammatory Fuel is. While those are two of our most popular juices, the reality is that all of our juices are popular because we sell out of everything we make on a daily basis.
Your ingredient list ranges from fresh apples and charcoal to wheatgrass, with various fruits, greens and veggies in between. How many ingredients are on offer?
MA: Hundreds! We base our menu around ingredients that are easy to grow organically year-round. So you will see lots of kale, apples, citrus, carrots and beets. Along with our mainstays, we change our menu seasonally to take advantage of fresh local fruits and veggies. Right now, cranberries are really big so we have a cranberry juice on offer. But in the summer you will see lots of berries, watermelon and so on. Our smoothie flavours also change with the seasons.  
You also serve salads?
MA: We just added a brand new salad bar and our salad bowls with grains are stunning! We also make all of our dressings from scratch. You can either eat them here, or get them as take-out. We introduced salads to the menu because our customers kept asking for them.
What about the kids' menu?
MA: We added a kids' line because we wanted to make RIPE accessible for families. Our kid-friendly smoothies and juices are very popular. Parents also like them because nothing in our shop contains sugar.  
Any recommendations for a first time visitor who doesn't know much about cold pressed juicing?
MA: For juices, I would recommend either Friendship or Fuel. For smoothies, I would recommend our Yoga Warrior (peanut butter, banana, oats, chocolate protein, maca and in-house made almond milk), or Matcha Ninja (matcha, coconut oil, banana, in-house made almond milk, almond butter and chia seeds). Matcha Ninja is my favourite! I love it because it tastes like a green tea cookie.
What about RIPE's cleansing juices?
MA: We offer four cleanses, and they are based on the ski hills. The green run (the easy cleanse), the blue run (the intermediate and signature cleanse), the black diamond (a straight green cleanse so it's a bit more hardcore) and the executive (a daytime cleanse, which allows you to eat a healthy dinner). We named them after ski hills because Lindsay is a big snowboarder, and we like to add snippets of our lives to the business. The purifying, nutrient-dense juice cleanses are usually six 500-mL bottles a day, plus an elixir. Our cleanses range from one to five days, or can be customized to the number of days our customers would like. We have created one-day reset cleanses, as well as 10 to 15-day cleanses. But we do offer an unlimited number of days in a cleanse. Customers can pick up three days at a time as this ensures the juice is as nutrient packed as possible!
Why do a juice cleanse?
MA: First and foremost, it's a huge immunity boost. Juice cleansing is an ideal way to give your body the nutrients it needs from pure organic produce, while giving your system a break to detoxify.
What's your food philosophy?
MA: We strive to improve the everyday health of our community by providing convenient access to raw, organic, delicious plant-based nutrition. We are also big on education and happily answer any questions customers may have.
What about specials?
MA: We offer a loyalty subscription program. We offer 10 juices for $100, which is about a $20 savings, and 20 juices for $195.00, which is over $40 in savings.  
Beyond juices and smoothies, what's your favourite meal to make at home?
MA: We do lots of raw food, but also strongly believe in balance. We make plenty of salads, quinoa pastas and stir-fries – really anything from eggplant Parmesan to portobello mushrooms stuffed with squash and arugula.
Beyond RIPE, what's your favourite local food destination?
MA: We absolutely love J'adore Fine Cheese and Chocolate (jadorefinecheese.com.) It's a great place and I think we have sampled every cheese there [laughs]. For local dining, we really like Groovy Tuesdays (groovytuesdaysbistro.com.) Beyond great food, we both really admire these local establishments because they are small, offer great food, and treat their customers like friends and family.
What about the future?
MA: We've got lots of great plans in the works. In coming months, we will be offering a delivery service. We're also going to make our summer Muskoka location (in Minet) bigger and offer more products. Lastly, we should have a second location open in either south Barrie or Collingwood by next year. Speaking of Collingwood, our juice is currently available at two ski clubs, Alpine and Georgian Peaks.
You've got the ear of thousands of local diners, anything else you like to add?
MA: When we first opened, lots of people told us that Barrie wasn't ready for RIPE. But we have been doing really well and have proved the naysayers wrong. Turns out, Barrie was ready for healthier grab-and-go options. Instead of a hamburger, you can get a beautiful salad and a
delicious fresh juice.



CLASSIC ACAI BOWL   
  • 1 cube Acai
  •     
  • 2 to 3 frozen strawberries
  •      
  • 2 oz blueberries
  •      
  • 1 frozen banana
  •    
  • 2 oz fresh pressed orange juice
  •      
  • 4 oz alkaline water
  •  
        TOPPING:                      
  • 4 oz granola of your choice
  •          
  • 1/2 fresh banana, thinly sliced
  •          
  • 2 fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
  •        
       PREPARATION:
      
  1. Blend all ingredients (except for topping) in blender for 10 to 20 seconds until it reaches a smooth ice-cream texture. Top with granola, fresh banana and strawberries.

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