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Just Juice

The Great Recession was more unpleasantness than we have seen in a long time, but we swallowed it like it was liquefied kale and learned a valuable lesson.

I’ve been a vegetarian for 14 years, which is not to say my diet is always healthy. Let’s not forget that Doritos, cheese pizza, and jelly beans are all technically vegetarian.

Despite this, stories of health success interest me in the sense that they're motivating, while still allowing me to sit idly on the couch, eating Corn Nuts (totally a vegetable!), and observing. So during the rainy part of the weekend, I used our cable service provider to order a documentary film called Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. It looked interesting enough… something about a guy going on some crazy diet.

The film kicks off with the subject of the documentary (Australian venture capitalist Joe Cross) assessing his physical well-being --primarily as to how he has packed on 100 pounds of excess body weight and developed a rare but debilitating autoimmune disease.

Cross determines that if his body can be healed, a plant-based diet should be at the root of his efforts. So he embarks on a journey to the U.S., vowing to nourish himself with only fresh fruit and vegetable juice throughout his 60 day journey. Armed with a juicer, Cross sets out and spends the next 60 days convincing the people he encounters that “juicing” might be a way to jump start their way back to a healthy life.

Everyone who tries this juicing deals with hunger pangs and low energy the first couple of days. One woman said it was like being in a fog. Yet by the end of the experiment, their bodies begin to change. Energy levels increase, and some folks find that persistent medical issues have either eased up or gone away altogether.

I promise you this month’s column isn’t an effort to convince you to abandon all solid foods. My point leans more towards how sometimes abrupt and awful (liquid spinach!) change makes us better.

I recently read an AP article on an Oppenheimer research note that argued the recession of 2008-2009 actually made businesses stronger. In fact, the analyst behind the report argued that, in contrast to 2008, companies now have lower inventories, improved cost structures, stronger balance sheets, and better access to cash.

“It is our opinion that a re-do of the most recent recession is unlikely,” analyst Christopher Wiggins went on to say. “We believe companies remain in better shape versus the prior downturn, which if anything, should support more resilient earnings versus the deep cuts to industrials in late 2008.”

I know it sounds clichéd in that whatever-doesn’t-kill-you kind of way, but it’s something that I’ve been hearing throughout the last year from both manufacturers and distributors. Some of them call it “the new normal,” which really means business-as-usual encompasses a more scrutinized look at behavior, expenditures, inventory, and expansion. We saw enough job loss to last us a lifetime, so many manufacturers today are looking at every nook and cranny to cut costs in order to prevent having to let go of valuable employees. But it was exactly this scrutiny that took some of the more sluggish areas of our businesses and turned them into lean fighting machines.

Speaking of which: I bet you’re wondering what happened to Joe Cross after 60 days of juicing. Believe it or not, he lost 80+ lbs and was able to stop taking the steroids he was prescribed for his autoimmune disease -- a chronic problem that has essentially ceased its attack on his body. I can’t explain the physiological effects of the juice and its micronutrients, but it’s a pretty compelling story if you ask me. It’s a good argument for the idea that maybe our bodies just need to be cleansed every once in a while, allowing us to re-boot from a more healthy place.

Don’t get me wrong: The Great Recession was more than just a “cleanse.” It wasn’t a quick fix for dropping excess baggage. It was more unpleasantness than this country has seen in a long time, but we swallowed it like it was liquefied kale and learned a valuable lesson: We can emerge from something like this and be better… even if it hurts a little going down.

Email me your thoughts and juice recipes at [email protected].