There’s a big difference between San Francisco’s Richmond District, and the city of Richmond, California.
The former is located in a global destination and has abundant access to resources like wealth, healthy eating, and diverse outdoor activities. The other, however, is just north of Oakland — in an industrial section of the East Bay, where a Chevron refinery regularly spews toxic smoke and oil into the atmosphere, in an area known as “The Iron Triangle.”
Walk around here and you’ll see more McDonald’s and Pizza Huts than produce markets or gardens.
For half a decade, I’ve lived on the San Pablo and Richmond border in the house my wife’s grandmother was raised — next to the train tracks, in a neighborhood that is surrounded by concrete, graffiti, chain link fences, and automotive shops. Around here, going to the store on foot means walking to get Taki’s, fried chicken, or any other highly processed food. And if you’re pulling a juice out of these fridges, expect a high dosage of sugar and high fructose more than actual fruit.
When I discovered there was a new juicery in town— while randomly searching Google one afternoon — I was, well, juiced.
Located on the city’s southern edge, near the massive shipyards and warehouses, you can now find raw, cold-pressed juices in a place you wouldn’t typically expect to find an independent business like this. The docks are largely used for sailing, with a few restaurants and abandoned lots dotting the strip. But that’s exactly why Liquified Juicery works, and why they deserve to be recognized for their efforts in bringing organic beverages to our community — because without them, I’d only have Arizona tea from The People’s Market, where I usually go.
Founded by Ashley Comora, a former San Francisco resident who relocated to this side of the Bay Bridge as a teen, she has long been committed to her personal journey of veganism, juicing, and practicing a healthy lifestyle. In 2018, she decided to take her passion for health further by acquiring the paperwork to begin a two-year process to open a business; in February 2020 — just weeks before the pandemic swept the globe — Liquified Juicery officially opened.
“[My] mission is to help heal people the natural way, from the inside out,” Comora says. “I learned and felt so many benefits from drinking fresh juice every day. The cells in the body can literally repair itself when given the right environment and nutrients.”
For those who live in affluent areas where this may be a common practice, it might not seem as profound. But living in an area where there are overwhelmingly fast food and unhealthy choices to be made on every corner, creating a space for mindful, healthy consumption feels even more uplifting and nutritious for the soul.
When I think about spending hard-earned money on something like fresh juice, I remind myself that it’s an investment in my longevity and that the money is going towards sustaining not only my family but also an independently-owned business.
Having lived in this area for many years, Comora was conscious of this choice, and it influenced her desire to help bring awareness to the issue.
“I knew I wanted to address the issue of the East Bay and how it lacks the convenience of healthy products for many communities,” she says. “I want Liquified Juicery to bridge that gap for people. Everyone deserves to be in a position to conveniently receive healthy products.”
Walk around here and you’ll see more McDonald’s and Pizza Huts than produce markets or gardens. And though the large immigrant community is catered to with many mercados, there is a visible and obvious lack of options for anyone who simply wants a healthy juice after a morning workout.
After only one year of opening, Liquified has become available in nearby stores, including Rainbow Grocery, Alameda Market Place, Monterey Market, El Cerrito Natural Grocery Store, and Williams Natural Grocery, which span from Richmond to San Francisco. They are also planning to provide their beverages across the Richmond Bridge in San Rafael. Or, if you prefer, you can go straight to their kitchen on 23 Maine Avenue to pick it up directly from the source — or order for delivery.
Comora does more than just press fruits, though. She manages her online marketing, organizes daily orders, emails clients, contacts stores, gathers ingredients from nearby markets, labels bottles, and also does deliveries and pick-ups every day to customers and stores around the entire Bay Area.
Her priority, she tells me, besides having excellent juices, is to provide healthier options for others, and to guide those who are interested in their own “juicing journey.” She also is working to improve the community at large.
“A message I have for local politicians would be to designate funding into healthier options and to provide education to our local communities for every age group,” she says. “And a message to local residents would be to try adding in more healthy options for you and your family. Even just adding raw juices into you and your family’s daily routine is a great first step.”
Of course, when it comes to healthy living, it’s easier said than done, and financial barriers are real obstacles. For this, Comora is working on offering the best, most affordable prices she can, and plans to open a flagship juicery for those who prefer to eat and drink on site — since they are currently only operating out of their warehouse.
When I think about spending hard-earned money on something like fresh juice, I remind myself that it’s an investment in my longevity and that the money is going towards sustaining not only my family but also an independently-owned business. Even still, it’s dope to see a place like Liquified providing at least an option for better choices to be made.
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Fortunately, it has been a successful year for the new juicery, which is helping to bring organic ingredients into our homes, despite the lack of availability in these neighborhoods. So, the next time you’re looking for a drink around here or at a nearby local market, get a taste of Richmond’s freshest flavors — literally.