APRIL 2021 Mommy of the Month
Meet Julia - Our April Mommy of the Month !
Julia is momma to these two adorable little ones, and also the owner of Goji Juice Bar in Somers Point and (coming soon to) Ocean City! From sourcing locally grown produce, composting, and using reusable glass bottles, Julia's business is all about sustainability. We asked Julia a bunch of questions regarding being an eco-conscious business owner, as well as a momma!
Question 1: We noticed that Goji composts all of it's food scraps and paper which we LOVE. While composting plays a significant role in reducing waste, we've found that there aren't any commercial composts in our area. However, we are opening a small community compost soon and would love to hear any tips or tricks you have to offer us or our customers whom we plan to educate on the matter (pun intended).
Composting is a great way to keep food scraps out of the garbage and back into our ecosystem. We compost our juice pulp and intend to be able to compost even more as we venture into farming and have more land. We are lucky to also have chickens at our farm who enjoy excess juice pulp and produce. For those new to composting, starting a compost at home is easy! Get started with with trimming from cooking (think butts of carrots and strawberries that have seen better days), excess foods off of your dinner plate, grass clippings, and shredded paper. The key is to have an equal mix of browns (carbons) and greens (nitrogen), both are necessary for a quick decomposition and rich compost. Try to start your compost in layers; for example wets like food scraps and eggshells and then covering it up with drys like grass clipping and paper or throw them all in together and mix well. We love making a large compost pile over the summer months and allowing to decompose to use in our gardens - the rich soil created is why we had the biggest tomato plants last year! Rotate and mix your compost every few days to encourage quicker break down and to reduce odor. It is great to start a compost on bare earth but you can also buy a small compost from a local hardware store.
Question 2: Buying local makes a positive impact on the environment by reducing the number of miles that items have to travel. Can you tell us more about the local farms that you support and what role this plays in your sustainability mission?
America loses up to 40% of its food from farm to fork to landfill. Vegetables and fruit are thrown out because they are ugly, misshapen, bruised, or simply not perfect enough to make it to the grocery store or your table. We are fortunate to have cultivated relationships with many small farms in our area which we can purchase from in our surplus growing season. We are excited to start on our own farming adventure with Goji Organics to supplement our already amazing produce and close the gap of the food waste journey. The more we can support ourselves and our local community the more sustainable and horizontally/vertically integrated we become.
Question 3: We read that your business is close to it's zero-waste goal. What work is there still left to do? What challenges have you run into? Do you think that zero-waste is achievable for all businesses?
Zero-waste is the ultimate goal - but a goal that is very difficult when working with other companies who have different values. We continue to build our relationships with other small farms in the area and develop our own farm, Goji Organics, to minimize plastic and pollution waste that accompanies produce. Being a grab and go restaurant we struggle with the grab and go option containers, the most difficult being that items need to be visible to spark customer interest. This summer we are excited to introduce our cold brew into our refillable bottle system, we will be selling our single origin cold brew in 33 oz bottles for easy morning coffees at home. As we evolve we will be able to make even more sustainable choices for our brand. With that, I believe that zero waste becomes more achievable as you mature as a business. It is something that can worked towards in small steps and changes even if the goal is not zero-waste but minimizing single use plastics and making reusables more of a standard. Being zero waste comes with adding more responsibilities on the businesses end, for example our reusable bottle system means we need to take all the bottles back and sanitize them. This is a system that requires time and energy on our part, we believe that it is worth that in reducing our environmental impact. Now our journey evolves as we help others realize the importance of reducing single use items like water bottles, by reusing were doing more than ‘saving money’ we are literally saving the world from turning into one giant landfill.
Question 4: Goji has an incredible amount of sustainability tactics. How have these values transitioned to your home life?
We try to be very conscious of our impact and habits we share with our children when it comes to single use items and fast fashion. What is funny is that things we do as a family that for some onlookers look like sustainability efforts are merely just a part of life, especially through the eyes of children. For example taking their water bottles daily to school instead of packing a disposable juice box daily or using paper bags for snacks instead of the standard plastic zip bags. Small steps like reusing containers to store cut up veggies or fruits help us from creating more trash. We sometimes joke and wonder when the kids will become embarrassed that their old baby food jars are holding their trail mix in their lunch boxes. We use this same mindset when choosing toys and clothes for the kids. We try and purchase heirloom pieces or items that we know can be passed down or used for many years to come.
Question 5: Owning a health food restaurant must make feeding your kids nutritious meals pretty easy! Was eating healthy something you and your husband have always had a passion for? How have your kids responded?
Plant based living is what brought Scott and myself together. In college Scott invited me over to cook dinners regularly since we were both vegetarians, he jokes that is how he tricked me into dating. Honestly one of the main reasons we felt so compelled with Goji is to create a community and environment where eating fulfilling plant based meals is as easy and attainable as going to a fast food restaurant. That passion sparked us towards choosing the old Burger King in Somers Point to renovate into our first storefront. With that choice we acquired a drive thru - ‘hello’ ease of getting something healthy without having to carry a toddler and car seat out of the car! We are both passionate about being a living example for our kids and exposing them to the knowledge of where your food comes from and the importance of taking care of your body inside and out. For our kids, this has always looked like them eating the same things as us, and focuses on supporting small and utilizing local. We’re lucky to live in an area where their is a surplus of farmers markets during our main growing season. We have always made one family meal so they have been exposed to all different types of foods, some of which they love and others which they hate. And this isn’t to say that my kids don’t also go through stages where they ask for Annies Mac on the regular - and “not the veeeegaan kind mom” - or go nuts for doughnuts but we try instill our philosophy of things in moderation and fueling most with foods that you can recognize in their natural state.
Check out Goji: HERE
Learn about Goji's sustainability values: HERE
Shop the Green Toys featured in this blog: HERE