Yoga and juicing seem to be inextricably linked these days. Every time you turn around — at least at Whole Foods or MOM’S, where I tend to shop — there is a new bottle of green liquid espousing some benefit or other.
Yoga and juicing seem to be inextricably linked these days. Every time you turn around — at least at Whole Foods or MOM’S, where I tend to shop — there is a new bottle of green liquid espousing some benefit or other. Although I’ve been known to imbibe the stuff myself on occasion, I admit to utterly failing my first (and only) attempt at a detox. After day one, I was so sad, tired and eager to use my teeth that I just gave up in defeat.
But, I’ll tell you what I did love – meeting the woman behind Goûter, Violaine Orban (V to her friends, of which I am now lucky to be one). Goûter makes tonics (not to be confused with juices; more on that in a bit). Due to a combination of awesome genetics and drinking her own products, V has more energy than anyone I know. So, regardless of my past detox experiences, and in the words made famous in When Harry Met Sally, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Goûter gets its fair share of attention around these parts, so I was honored that V agreed to let little old me grill her on her business, her approach to nutrition and the difference between juices and tonics. Read on for what she has to say:
First and foremost, what does Goûter mean?
It’s a French word meaning “to taste.” My family is originally from Belgium, so it’s a reference to both my roots and to the fact that we wanted the tonics to taste amazing! Too often, you try a green juice, and it tastes like grass, but you down it anyway because it’s good for you.
What are the benefits Goûter promotes?
We created Goûter as a beverage that supports an active lifestyle. The way we live today, especially in this area, is one where we are always on the go: working, exercising, and taking care of our families. But we often forget to be mindful of what we’re putting into our bodies. As a result, we end up not meeting our nutritional needs. With Goûter, we wanted to create something that provided people with an easy way to nourish, energize and hydrate our bodies, even when we are at our busiest.
You classify Goûter products as tonics, not juices. Can you explain the difference?
Juice is fruit and/or vegetable based. By definition, a tonic is a “medicinal substance taken to give a feeling of vigor or well-being.”
Our tonics are alkaline water and lemon-based and are intended to provide an optimal level of hydration and reduce the level of acidity in our bodies. They are also chock full of super foods and nutrient dense. They give the body things that it’s probably rarely if ever been exposed to like blue green algae or spirulina; things that are definitely not part of the average Western diet. If you have a healthy, well-balanced diet, you’re already getting things like kale and spinach. There are lots of other nutrients we should be getting as well, but don’t.
So, are you opposed to juice?
I am definitely not opposed! I think juice is great. I love that juice bars are becoming more mainstream! That means people are drinking less crap and becoming more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies. Personally I enjoy a more hardcore green juice that is organic, has little to no fruit and has a high concentration of leafy greens.
Where did the idea for Goûter come from?
It was actually the result of my own health challenges. A few years ago, I was treated for an ulcer. After being hospitalized, I received a lifelong prescription of antacids. I was shocked and kind of disgusted. I knew there had to be another way to address the problem other than taking chemicals for the rest of my life.
As I was doing research, I learned about the effects of acidity on the body: inflammation, bacteria and sickness. Although our bodies do need acidity, the average Western diet – which includes a lot of processed foods, meat, caffeine, alcohol and sugar – causes way too much. The way to counter that is by creating a more alkaline environment.
Coincidentally, right around that time, my business partner’s father purchased an alkaline water machine and was raving about its benefits. Essentially, the machine separates the acidic from the alkaline water through a filtration system. I figured I had nothing to lose, so we got one for ourselves to try out.
That was the first step. Then I educated myself on the various super foods and their respective benefits. My business partner, who is a chef, created tonic concoctions with these superfoods. After months of taste-testing, the rest is history.
Have you always been interested in diet and health?
I’ve always been pretty healthy. Growing up, we ate mostly balanced, homemade meals. But I’ve also always had a sweet tooth and could eat chocolate like nobody’s business. And while my diet was generally nutritious and I played sports and was very active, I also always had stomach issues that I never really got diagnosed. Since I’ve changed my diet – eliminating animal products and drinking our tonics – those issues have gone away.
I was also really inspired by working in a dietary clinic in Spain a few years ago. It was eye opening. People would come to relax, recharge and do a 10 day cleanse program. By the time they left, their skin was glowing, they were re-energized, and they looked healthier as a whole. It dawned on me how important it is to have a holistic approach to health – combining fitness, nutrition and lifestyle.
What are the reasons you would encourage someone to do a cleanse?
Honestly, I would never suggest someone do a cleanse unless they were already willing and ready. It’s intense and not for everybody. When people came to the dietary clinic in Spain, they were taking time out of their lives to focus solely on themselves and the cleanse. Here, people are attempting to do it in the midst of their everyday lives. They still have to get up and go to work, deal with their kids and are even attempting to work out while cleansing. That’s a lot to take on.
Do you cleanse, though?
Yes, I try to do a three day cleanse once a month. I kind of look at it as a mini reboot for my body. Nobody eats “perfectly” all the time. I’m human; I like my red wine now and again. I over indulge just like anyone else. Taking a few days a month to do something amazing for my body and give it a break in terms of digestion works for me and I feel better doing it.
But you don’t have to do it for multiple days, if that’s too much. Take one day when you can be low key and try it. If that’s manageable, try doing it one day a week for four weeks in a row. Trust me, you’ll feel the difference.
And, if that’s not for you, just drink a tonic (or three!) a day and focus on eating more mindfully.
I learned about Goûter at my yoga studio. How are juices — or, in this case, tonics — symbiotic with yoga in your mind? How do you find the two interrelate?
Both yoga and tonics approach health holistically. Some of the first places we sold Goûter were yoga studios. In my experience, people who do yoga tend to be pretty mindful of their bodies, not only what they’re doing to it but also what they are putting into it.
I also find that certain tonics seem to align really well with a particular yoga practice. For example, Root Punch, which promotes more energy and vitality, complements a practice that is more heart opening with lots of back bends. And, of course, detox yoga practices match well with a variety of our tonics.
As a business owner in the growing D.C. health and wellness community, what do you think has changed (improved?) in recent years? What excites you the most?
It’s really amazing. It’s the coolest time to be in D.C. from a health and wellness perspective. Five years ago, there was very little. I remember we did a LivingSocial cooking class back when Goûter was brand new, introducing people to raw food cooking techniques. People were shocked by what they could do at home with nuts and a blender! Now, you’ll hear people talking on the street about kombucha. I was just speaking to someone this morning that uses turmeric in his smoothie every day! People are getting tuned in and I love it!
People have become so knowledgeable about wellness and want more healthy options. I see a lot more plant-based eating. I mean, Jose Andrés just opened Beefsteak, a plant-based fast casual restaurant! Stuff like that is really cool.
As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give someone looking to make health and wellness their profession? Are there any best practices/mistakes to avoid that you can share based on your experience?
Don’t do it for the money. Be ready to make mistakes every day. Learn from them and move on.
Owning a business means you’re probably slightly crazy and super passionate; those can be reasons for success or failure. So surround yourself with a community of people who are better and smarter than you and ask tons of questions.
The advice I would give an entrepreneur on any path is this: get ready for a wild ride. It’s a humbling experience.
Where can we find Goûter?
More and more places! There are 35 different locations in the D.C. metro area that stock Goûter. The best place to find one is through our website.
What’s your favorite Goûter tonic?
Of course, they’re like my children – I love them all. But if I had to choose, I guess I’d say Stretch. It’s the most complex with fresh turmeric root, cardamom, vanilla and black pepper.