When Elizabeth Zuckermandel was growing up in Oklahoma City, her family was organic before organic was a thing. Her aunt suffered from lupus and adopted a clean diet to manage symptoms, so Zuckermandel and her parents adopted the same lifestyle.
At the time, finding organic, vegan or whole-food options was nearly nonexistent.
“We made our own juices. There was no processed food in our house. We were on the Whole 30 diet before Whole 30 was a thing. But seeing how my aunt was able to continue to live a fairly normal lifestyle by making all these shifts became embedded in my brain.”
After having children and losing her father to cancer, Zuckermandel became even more focused on eating clean. She returned to clean eating and “juicing” and made fresh juices for friends in the neighborhood. With their encouragement, and with the desire to do something she was passionate about, Zuckermandel wanted to take the healthy-lifestyle, juicing craze to the public.
With that in mind, Zuckermandel and her husband, Mark, opened a franchise of Clean Juice, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic juice and food bar, on Jan. 16. The store at 1476 S. Bryant Ave. in Edmond is the second Oklahoma City-area location for the national franchise, joining the existing Clean Juice located in Classen Curve.
Any doubt she had that Oklahomans would seek out and support organic, clean eating as a concept disappeared when more than 70 people were waiting for the grand opening by 7 a.m. that morning.
“People were lining up by 3:45 that morning,” she said. “It was incredible. It just proved that Oklahomans want options like this. They want to be able to pop in and grab something that is healthy and tastes good. There’s such a need for more choices like this.”
According to a 2019 yearly review by the National Restaurant Association, three-quarters of restaurant owners reported noticeable levels of interest in organic menu offerings compared to those of just two years prior. Interest in organic food isn’t a new trend, but it’s one that is continuing to grow.
According to Organica.com, organic vegetables and fruits make up 14.6% of the total produce sold in the United States, and 5.7% of food sold in America is organic.
The global organic food and beverage market tipped $187 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach $860 billion by 2031 with the rising awareness and demand among the consumers regarding the health benefits.
By 2026, the organic market is expected to reach $620 billion.
Already, Oklahoma City metro restaurants like Flower Child on NW 63rd Street in Nichols Hills offer a menu that incorporates dishes designed for various “clean” lifestyles. Those range from vegetarian and vegan, lean meat options and gluten-free to keto and paleo dishes. Menu items include “farm-fresh” bowls, salads and wraps along with flavored kombucha, house lemonade and organic wine.
Part of the Fox Restaurant Concepts chain, the Oklahoma City location is the first and only in the state, though Flower Child is a staple in 10 other states.
Even city officials have noticed the demand for more healthy dining. In the past several years, Visit Oklahoma City noted a trend toward travelers seeking out clean eating options based on keyword searches on VisitOKC.com and popular TikTok content.
“Experiencing a destination isn’t just about exploring attractions and hotels – visitors also want culinary experiences that can only be found here,” said Zac Craig, president of Visit Oklahoma City.
The Visit Oklahoma City healthy eating blog consistently remains in the top 15 performers on the site.
“Oklahoma City’s food scene is diverse and continues to grow with new healthy restaurant concepts, as well as established restaurants expanding their menu to accommodate healthy choices and food allergies,” Craig said.
Meanwhile, Clean Eatz, a health food and meal kit delivery concept with more than 70 franchise operations in the United States, plans to make an official debut in Oklahoma this year.
“With the heightened significance that consumers are placing on personal wellness this year, now is the time to tap into the tremendous potential that exists for our brand here in Oklahoma City,” said Clean Eatz co-founder Evonne Varady. “The roots we plan to plant this year will only be the first of what we hope will become a network of Clean Eatz locations servicing the entirety of the OKC community.”
Zuckermandel and Clean Juice are betting the trend toward healthier eating will continue.
“I truly feel like the moms around here who are seeing their kids struggling with ADHD and autism and all these food allergies want a place like this,” she said. “Our first week was phenomenal. There are so many people who want healthy and good choices, and they just need it easy and quick.”
This content was originally published here.