Unusual Eats: & Juice Co.’s Veggie Jerky
Juicing is enjoying its heyday in Columbus, and & Juice Co. (not a typo: “& Juice Co.” is the name) has been positioning itself as the local HQ for liquid lunches. In fact, in 2018, the operation expanded from its original Upper Arlington digs into neighborhoods such as Clintonville and Italian Village.
Make no mistake, the juice is the headliner at the stops.
But, the non-beef jerky snacks sorta steal the show. I mean, you expect juice, right? You don’t expect veggie-jerky. You don’t expect that from a juice place. You don’t expect it from any place, ever.
And yet here we are. The non-beef veggie sticks are the house Vida Slims, made at its original Upper Arlington location and sold at all its outlets. If you don’t look at the label, they look like a normal sort of dried sausage. The ropes are darker than a traditional Slim Jim, but about the same hues as other dried meat products. The ingredients are pretty much everything except for meat: beets, carrots, sundried tomatoes, red pepper, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, jalapeño, lemon, turmeric, seaweed, cayenne and sea salt. That’s it. Nothing even vaguely mysterious there.
You wouldn’t guess any of the ingredients, except for possibly the seaweed, as it’s used like a casing to hold the stick together. The seaweed’s ocean accent isn’t strong — no overt fishiness. Ultimately, you get a briny snack that’s easier to chew than the meaty stuff and packs a spiked cayenne punch right at the end. Is it healthier? No clue, but everything in the ingredients sounds pretty healthy and also comparatively low fat (regular beef sticks like Slim Jims are super fatty).
There are other dried foods available: bananas, beet chips, and kale chips. And the counter crew can set you up with a cold-pressed blend that combines juices with stuff like spirulina, mint, ginger and hemp seed. Even if you’re not into juice or healthy things generally, the Vida Slims are pretty fun.
For more information, visit andjuiceco.com.