Why we care about Juicero

The high-end, NorCal-backed juicer is about more than kale.

Some people met the news of a seemingly space-age, cold-pressed juicer called Juicero with elation. Others with a shoulder shrug. Whether or not you’re clamoring to get your hands on the $700, tricked out kitchen gadget, its existence matters. Here’s our thinking.

As Silicon Valley goes, so goes the nation.

The technology soothsayers (a.k.a. venture capitalists) fronted $120 million+ to make Juicero happen. It's an indication that they don't expect our taste for juice to wane any time soon. “Similar to how the mainframe computer evolved into the personal computer, my vision was to take the power of a commercial cold-press machine and transform it into a sleek countertop device that is compact enough to fit on your kitchen counter,” founder and CEO Doug Evans writes in an email. The VC investment is, in part, about making a functionally excellent machine. But the machine has the capacity to collect information in a way that hasn't been achieved in the food chain before. Here's what we mean: Juicero has been called the Keurig of juice, except Keurig doesn't know exactly when you use a certain K-cup. It's fairly innocuous (no one is too private about their green juice consumption), but it's good to be aware of all the personal data companies collect.

It’s perfect for our age of trackers.

Wearables, apps, et al. are lousy at tracking food, because users must input information manually and are notoriously unreliable. Juicero addresses that. The five varieties of cut produce packs, reminiscent of IV bags, are printed with a QR code. It’s a closed loop: You order the packs on your app, it keeps track of which you’ve used and prompts you to reorder. If a pack is past its expiration date, or has been exposed to heat, the machine won’t press it, end of story. (And because of the QR codes, the machine knows if you stole a pack from, say, the office, and won't press it, either.) There’s a calendar to track your press activity, so you know what you and your family are drinking.

It's a model for a more transparent food system.

Food labeling has become a powder keg in our food system. It’s about forcing companies to carry a GMO label, whether that red snapper you bought is really red snapper and what constitutes cage-free eggs. People are becoming more selective about what they eat and are willing to invest the time and money into buying what is responsible, at all points along the supply chain. Juicero users can tell, via the app and the pack’s QR code, which organic farm grew the produce they’re drinking—what founder and CEO Doug Evans calls a “farm-to-glass” approach. This is something technology can afford. “Technology is having a profound impact on the wellness industry and it will only continue to do so,” Evans says. “Juicero is a game changer in the way we are approaching transparency, providing nutritional information to the consumer and creating an entirely new supply system.” If you're offered information about what your juice contains, maybe you'll come to expect it from everything you eat.