Below are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
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Are your juices certified organic?
Why plastic instead of glass?
Why not one big container instead of 7 x 40ml bottles?
Why hydroponic (grow in water) instead of in soil?
Why ship all the way from Ireland?
Why HPP / ultra high pressure?
Why add organic, vegan lactic acid?
What does the Best Before date mean?
To be certified organic you must meet all the requirements of a government approved organic certifying body – such as the Soil Association. However, each country has its own certifying bodies and they have different requirements. This means that it is just about impossible for a product to satisfy the requirements for all the countries in which it sells its products. Our total sales are still small but we do sell in several countries.
Currently, the Soil Association in Ireland and in the UK have refused to grant us organic status because our plants are grown hydroponically – in water not in soil.
Weird thing is that they do grant organic status to some big growers who grow sprouts unnaturally in big rotating drums – with no soil – so unnatural! The drum tumbles the seeds from time to time so that they don’t overheated and rot. Poor little sprouts get all confused about which way is up so instead of growing up straight towards the light they get curled up and puts lots of stress on the plants. Meanwhile at Vegus Foods we do the best we can. We start with good non-GMO seeds. All our products are grown and packed absolutely with:
NO genetically modified material
NO unnatural chemical fertilisers
NO hidden additives
ONLY certified organic fertiliser
ONLY safe gentle natural cleaning agents for the equipment
LOTS of love and care
We chose this material because a well respected German Research Institute made a study of packaging like this and concluded that these materials were equivalent environmentally to cardboard or glass bottles. They investigated not just the end of life disposal and recycling but also the origin of the materials used, the overall carbon footprint including transportation, etc. They then passed their study to the German Federal Government who agreed with the conclusions of the study. One of the horror stories uncovered was this: biodegradable plastics sound great. When they get wet they disappear! Problem for the recycling people is that one of the biggest uses of recycled plastic is in making builders plastic that is used as a vapour barrier in walls. Just one little bit of that biodegradable plastic in the vapour barrier and the vapour barrier disappears!!
We love the enzymes in our juices, but they would not love to be stored in one big container, because it would degrade their activity level and your juice would suffer. Every time you drank one serving you would be closing up the container with a fresh supply of air and as the bottle gradually empties there would be more and more air, with more and more oxidation too. That would mean that as you drank the contents the quality of the juice would get worse and worse. So we use a small bottle.
If we were growing lettuce or tomatoes we might give in to an emotional pull to grow them in soil. But we are really processing seeds to the sprout stage and that’s a different world.
To get the full nutrient value from the plants we have to be sure that in their very short life span they get the optimum nutrition all day every day. Not too much, not too little, but the Goldilocks “just right”. In soil, that would be very difficult to manage but with the help of our special 100% organic, natural fertiliser and a hydroponic system we can be sure that every single seed gets what it needs when it needs it. By the way, to produce a perfect crop every time and do it on a reliable schedule in soil we would have to find a location that offers:
- a perfect climate – not too hot, not too cold, not too humid, not too dry, etc
- unpolluted water
- perfect soil that does not need amendment – and that never wears out or depletes
- regular hours of sunlight
- no animals to feast on the plants
- a completely clean environment so that no mould or toxins can grow
If anyone can show us that place we will probably want to go there. Meanwhile, our enclosed environment chambers do all of that for us with a hydroponic system.
Because people in many countries want these juices and it is not practical to have farms scattered around the world and we must be close to a HPP processing unit which are still few and far between. If we had a farm in Australia we would have to visit at least once a month to check on quality standards and all kinds of things. That would mean shipping one of us all the way to Australia at least once a month. The carbon footprint for shipping juice is less than that for sending a human! If we get to the point where that equation changes – lots and lots more Aussies ordering juices – then we will recalculate and maybe set up a farm in Australia. (or India, or South Africa, or Timbucktu or wherever).
After we put the juices in the little bottles we put them into the pressure system and pump it up to ultra high pressure: Think of ten elephants standing on one strawberry. This high pressure kills all the bad guys such as salmonella and e:coli but leaves the enzymes happy and smiling – and live! But you don’t have to take our word for that. The survival of the enzyme is well documented and reported in peer reviewed scientific articles – such as this study
: And as regards harmful bacteria we have an independent laboratory test batches to confirm freedom from pathogens.
Lactic acid is naturally present in fermented plant foods and this is the type that we use. Fermented foods last a long time without being refrigerated because of the lactic acid and we believe that this naturally formed preservative is the best solution to ensure that your juices are safe to drink. We also use a teeny amount: about 50 ml of organic, vegan lactic acid in every 20,0000 ml of juice. Not that much. We add this drop or two of lactic acid to prevent growth of botulin spores that could cause illness. This is something you should be concerned about in other manufacturer’s juices and so do make sure that they too protect you from getting sick. Also to be noted is that there are two types of lactic acid. The first which is one to be avoided is a byproduct of slaughterhouses. The second is the only one that we use and is organically produced and 100% vegan. All Vegus Juices are 100% vegan and so do not contain any milk products or derivatives.
Because of the pressure treatment the juice is safe to drink for years. We tested it at four years of age and it was still free from bacterial activity. We also protect the enzymes and other nutrient values but the passage of time will eventually have some impact on the juice. The little bit of air left in the bottle and in the juice itself will cause some oxidation or browning of the juice. This oxidation is very minimal because of the very tiny amount of air since the 40ml bottles are virtually full so reducing the air pocket to almost zero. However we cannot remove the air from the juice because that would mean having to subject the juice to a de-aeration process (Ughh!)
The flavour can also change a bit over time; the chemistry of flavonoids is among the most complicated known to man. We could stabilise the taste for ever but the chemistry required to do that is appalling. We don’t want to go there. So, we say that for 26 weeks the juice is good but that just like all living things it is not getting younger and some deterioration is inevitable. Please note that broccoli sprout juice is not very green to start with. The reason is that the plant itself is not very green. The roots and stem are white and only the tiny little leaves are green.
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