Serving Shabbat dinner at The William Breman Jewish Home, I was struck by a familiar face. Health pioneer Arden Zinn, a resident there, brought back a rush of emotions about what she brought to Atlanta decades ago in terms of exercise and healthy eating compared to where we are now.
Someone had to start the revolution, in this case fresh juice and Arden’s Garden. And someone uniquely qualified with business acumen, daughter Leslie Zinn, co-founder and CEO, aggrandized and modernized the business. Out of a plant in East Point, Leslie oversees this complicated enterprise of distributing to five states with 13 Arden’s Garden brand stores and dozens of existing retail units including grocery stores, coffee shops and exclusive locations such as Capital City Country Club, Alon’s, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Dunwoody Country Club, and Shepherd Center.
In addition to the cold pressed fresh juices and detox products, look for snacks such as Peanut Butter Energy Bites, Fuzzy Kisses and Cheezy Kale. AG slogans imply better skin, mood, energy and weight control … think “6 p.m. will feel like 6 a.m.”
Leslie recalls working in the back of Jewish-owned Return to Eden, figuring out the best equipment for profitability and hand making labels in Mason jars. “My mother, who came from the Bronx, started juicing in 1993 and gave the juice away, but the company began in 1995. She was absolutely a total pioneer. No one was juicing back then. Her vision was to have options so that people could improve their health. She knew that what we put into our bodies was key to all health and wellness.”
Arden retired in 2011. Leslie, who has a bachelor of science in management from Georgia Tech, learned along the way, and took over in 1999. “My mom is a visionary, not a businessperson. She came up with the ideas, and I implemented them.”
Here’s what else Leslie had to say about the juicing business:
AJT: Share some of the newer studies about the benefits of antioxidants or juicing?
Zinn: Benefits come from the micronutrient content concentrated by juicing produce. The extracted juice (fresh fruits and vegetables) contains most of the phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants help protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals.
AJT: What is detoxing?
Zinn: Juices are great for detoxing because they help people break bad habits like sugar consumption, while still providing incredible nutrients. Juicing is easier on the body because it eliminates the need for digestion, an energy-requiring process. This extra energy is then available to heal and detox. We have several detoxes available — the most popular is the Two-Day Detox. Some incorporate fasting.
AJT: Since your products are fresh, how do you balance what to put where, so there is no salvage.
Zinn: Having a perishable product is one of our challenges. However, if something is shelf-stable, it has no “life force.”
AJT: Some dieticians say, “Better to eat the whole fruit than to drink the juice.”
Zinn: There are benefits to both. We offer smoothies, which have the whole fruit blended in and contain the fiber lost in juicing. However, juicing allows the body to take in a lot of nutrients, with almost three pounds of fresh produce in every 15.2-ounce juice, without taxing our systems with digestion.
AJT: You are within retailers, yet have your own stores?
Zinn: It allows us to have the best of both worlds. We have a broader reach of customers through our wholesale accounts while also having a direct connection with our customers through our retail stores. Our stores tell us about what our customers want and that enables us to make the products most in demand.
AJT: We went through the “kale phase.” What’s next?
Zinn: Kale is still huge and will be for some time to come because of its vast health benefits. I think 1 to 2-ounce shots are next on the horizon, specifically very intense shooters that have targeted health benefits like turmeric and wheatgrass. Also, plant-based foods are growing.
AJT: You have a lively staff of 150 with names like Lion Tamer and Star Shot?
Zinn: We build a team with the goal of promoting health. We have fun and don’t take ourselves too seriously.
AJT: What are your favorites?
Zinn: Beet it Better, Multigreen, Lean & Green, and Cucumber Lemonade.