Juice recently became a metaphor for me. That may sound funny, but a little spot in Old Oakland that popped onto my radar a few months ago ticked off a long list of things that have been top of mind for me these days. Whole and healthy lifestyle. Female empowerment. Immigrant success stories. Small businesses run by women. Opportunity for local youth. All of these things converge with the whirl of a blender behind the greenhouse glass door of Superjuiced. The organic juice and smoothie bar tucked inside the courtyard of the historic Swan’s Marketplace in Old Oakland brings these components together. It is proof that our city, our country, is unique and full of opportunity…with a rainbow of color to boot.
Owners Emanne Desouky and Rana Halpern started Superjuiced back in 2012 as a series of pop-ups. Continued success with their colorful concoctions led to the opening of their storefront location in fall of 2015. An immigrant from Egypt who came to the Bay Area in her teen years, Emanne shared with me that Superjuiced is the confluence of two passions; homeland tradition and food justice.
In American culture, juice seems to bounce between reputations as either a health fad or poor beverage choice. Parents are told to limit intake with their kids; to be wary of the caloric and sugar levels often associated with it. However, in Egypt it is an important element of home life and street food culture. Emanne told me little shacks are often found on every corner, doling out juiced sugar cane and all of the added health benefits that come with it. Exotic blends of carob, hibiscus, mango, pomegranate, guava, lemon, and tamarind are also common. In Emanne’s childhood home, her mother made fresh juice daily.
After years spent working for non-profits in San Francisco in support of the Arab and North African community, Emanne decided to turn to her homeland comfort food as a potential business. Fueled by her own health consciousness and use of fresh food and herbs to heal struggles with an auto immune disease, Emanne found an underserved niche in Oakland’s food culture; 100% organic and healthy grab-and-go options.
Upon opening, the pair quickly put their experience in social justice to good use, partnering with Beyond Emancipation. The local non-profit helps young people transition out of foster care and probation into adult life and all its hurdles. Sundara Englin was behind the counter during my visit. After coming on at Superjuiced as a intern through the ELEVATE program at Beyond Emancipation, she is now the shop’s assistant manager.
I visited Superjuiced on a VERY rainy morning last Thursday. Eager to sample something from both the juice and smoothie offerings, Sundara helped me decide on two choices from opposite sides of the rainbow. Rose Glow is a deep pink juice made with celery, apple, beet, ginger, and rose water; sweet and earthy. The Emerald Moon smoothie is a sweet and textured blend of housemade coconut milk, kale, spinach, medjool dates, pineapple, coconut chips, and cinnamon.
Emanne and Rana take pride in working directly with farmers to source all of their produce. Greens come from Feral Heart Farms in Sunol. Beets come from a sweet little family that sells at the Old Oakland Farmer’s Market. Raw organic almonds come from Kashiwase Farms south of Modesto. Medjool dates are sourced from Joshua Tree through a friend. Furthermore, on the horizon is a partnership with Dig Deep Farms. The San Leandro-based non-profit employs people who have formerly been incarcerated.
In addition to its standard menu offerings, Superjuiced also offers detox juice cleanses year-round. Customers are supplied with six juices per day for either 1-day, 3-day, or 5-day stints. Individual goals often vary from nutritional reset to illness. Folks who decide to partake are given an option between two carefully thought out daily juice menus that will flood their system with super nutrients and live enzymes, giving their digestive tract a break from foods that are more difficult to digest.
So as I continue to delve into what a healthy lifestyle looks like for me as I step further into 2017, I am pleased to know that I have another spot to pop into to grab something healthy, quick, and delicious. We need a lot of energy these days, in body and in mind. As Emanne shared her passion with me she said, “That’s where my heart is. Helping folks get healthy so we can slay the forces of evil.” So as an Oakland woman seeking empowerment I look forward to grabbing my daily fuel from another who’s dishing it out, one colorful drop at a time.
Superjuiced is located at:
540 9th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
(they are in the courtyard of Swan’s Marketplace)
Winter Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-3:00pm
More information, including their full menu and details on cleanses, can be found at www.oaklandisjuiced.com
All photos by Adrienne Schell. Do not use without permission.