He Maintenance Phase Buddz, today's episode is a real treat. It's one that we're really excited to bring to you. And also it is important that, you know, that I fully fucked up the sounds. Mike is like an audio MacGyver and did a bunch of neat tricks to save it. But just know that the audio quality for this one is a little a little downgraded from our usual will be back up and running next time. But this one's on me.
That is not how I would frame it. I was not going to blame you for this. This is a very strange and technical process. We had to use Aubrey's Skype recording rather than her microphone recording because there are knobs and dials on the microphone that were in the wrong place, I guess.
And I'm just a very loud person. So the place they all need to be is it like the lowest setting?
Both blower's, yeah. We both have a bellowing issue. And so sometimes that frys our microphones and it was Aubrey's turn to fry hers.
So we are sorry. There's a couple of places where the audio cuts out. It sounds a little tinny. We're working on it. We think we fixed it. So please bear with us and enjoy.
Hello, welcome to Maintenance Phase, the podcast about health and wellness and energy drinks, I guess, or something.
Yeah, sort of. I am Obree Gordon. I'm a columnist for Self magazine. I'm Michael Hobbs. I work for Huffington Post. Yeah, look at that. We did it. And today we're talking about moon juice, which I literally have no clue what this is.
So like, no, this is not cross your path at all, literally. These are just like random syllables to me. The only thing I know, which I think I heard from you, is that this is somehow in the Gwyneth Paltrow extended universe.
So if we're thinking about like Oprah and sort of who are the people that Oprah introduced us to? Oh, no, they're all bad. The first big one that Oprah introduced us to was Dr. Phil. Yes. And moon juice is like groups. Dr. Phil, this is sort of like her, like first big sort of like endorsement of another company to moon juice is a company, not a substance.
Correct. OK, munchies. So we might as well dig in. I was going to like, dig in more. I'm like, what else do you know?
And it's just like it's like, no, now there's no you have mined as deep as you're going to get this we're out of or so it started out as an L.A. juice bar.
I don't know if you know L.A. much, but its first location was in Venice, OK, second and third locations were on Melrose and in Silverlake. So it's really and truly just like where are the grungiest hipsters who give it to me in retail brands?
Are these neighborhoods like Prada? Are they Banana Republic?
Are they All Saints? Hot topic. They're like seven for all mankind.
Oh, OK. I know exactly what you mean. You see what I'm saying? Yes. It's like the it's like the wine moms who do yoga and they're like just on the border with anti AXA's. They haven't quite crossed over.
Yes, there is a lot, a lot, a lot of skepticism about Western medicine. Yes. So they started it's like one of many cold pressed juice trees in a there are a lot of those. Right, that sell green juice and wheat grass and the whole bit. Can I have you really dumb question? Yes. What is cold pressed mean, like what is the cold adding to this?
So there are different kinds of juicers there. I learned this. I read the entire Moon Juice cookbook, so ask me anything about juicers. There are several different kinds of juicers. The idea behind cold pressed juicers is that you are not oxidising the juice. OK, normally if you bought a juicer like a juice man juice or whatever, it would look kind of like a food processor. Right. And you would use this kind of plunger thing to push in fruits and vegetables that go down into this basket, that spinning really fast and then shoots juice out of a little spout.
And there's your juice, right? It's the woodchipper from Fargo. Yes.
Yes, correct. Correct. So the challenge is that that juice then oxidizes more easily. Right. Which means that it turns brown within 15 or 20 or 30 minutes. Right. So it doesn't look great in a bottle. On a shelf. Yeah. So cold pressed juice does two things. One, it keeps the juice from heating up so it doesn't oxidize, but it also keeps the juice from heating up so that for people who are committed, raw food tastes.
Right. Raw food is a big part of the moon juice aesthetic.
So the cool press just basically means you just like squeeze a carrot at high pressure, like you run over it with your car and then a bunch of news comes out.
Yeah, you scrape. Up the juice from the pavement. Yes, so they started out as a juice bar, they have since expanded quite a bit. Their whole thing is like food is the best medicine. Right. OK, so they now sell snacks, which they call cosmic provisions. They sell capsules, supplements, and they've actually gotten into beauty supplements that are now in like Sephora and Urban Outfitters. And so they're like, you know, they're getting out there.
This is the life cycle of the American lifestyle brand. You start with one thing, and then once people are sort of bought into the brand, then you extend the brand to all this other random stuff.
Yes, absolutely. They've also released a cookbook.
They still have their juices and they've got these things called Dust's Oh Know, which are sort of powdery supplements that are a mixture of usually like mushrooms and herbs and a lot of ingredients that are borrowed really heavily from Chinese medicine, from either Vayda, from herbal is a wide range of sort of Eastern alternative medicines.
I can see why Gwyneth Paltrow likes this right up here. Ali, it's interesting. You know, Gwyneth Paltrow calls her website goup, right? It's kind of like a satire of people who are promising to fix your life with some sort of goop like, yeah, well, everybody has a group they're selling. Ours is just going to be called goup. Right. And they're doing it feels like they're doing the same thing here by calling it dust, right.
Where dust is associated with like dirt and filth. They're sort of tongue in cheek referencing how much fucking snake oil there is in this field.
So potentially that's the case. I will say I did read one review of the dust's that was like I really liked that it was dust and not powder because powder sounds synthetic and dust sounds natural. And I was like, this is bizarre.
Yeah, that's probably going on too. Yeah. This this idea that everything has to be quote unquote natural. Mujib's is also big on to jinns. Oh fuck. It's like Chevron, Vitek, Ron. It's just a made up word. Yeah.
So do you know anything about adaptations that come across here. No word. Yeah. It's a real word. What.
OK, it's totally a real word and it's totally Chevron with Dacron.
Here's there's a quote from The New York Times did a whole piece called What are Adapted? Because if you are like me, a white woman in your 30s, adapted genes are everywhere. Unlike Sephora, they're everywhere in juice bars. They're everywhere, all kinds of stuff. Right. Wow. So this is the definition and of little explanation from the New York Times quote coined in nineteen forty seven, the term adapted in refers to substances that theoretically, quote unquote adapt to what your body needs and help protect against various stressors.
Oh for fuck's sake. Although the science is as murky as a mushroom drink looks and these supplements are unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration, that hasn't stopped trendsetters from sharing their purported benefits, which include supporting the body's adrenal glands, reducing stress levels and regulating hormone responses for an overall sense of homeostasis or balance God.
It's just like classic marketing stuff.
So there's like a little bit of science that shows that there might be some benefits. Those studies have all been done in rats.
Nice way. What are they? Are they a pill or like are they found in, like, broccoli or something? Where are we getting these adaptive genes?
They're found mostly in like mushrooms. OK, everything in the moon dusts.
So there's like brain dust and power dust and spirit dust and something called sex dust.
Yes, that's called cocaine.
Just like if your sex is dusty, that's what I want.
I had the dustier sex yesterday.
So all of these tests are just made up of basically like ground up ingredients like Oshawa, Gonda, Holzschuh Wu has a bunch of adaptive genes in it.
So the idea is that these adaptations are naturally occurring. So what Moonrocks has done is they've taken these exotic mushrooms or whatever, and they've boiled them down only to the adaptions.
And now you can get pure adaptive genes in a pill or whatever that's right there, fighting the most concentrated natural sources of adaptive genes, a thing that is like pretty ill-defined. Right.
And there's also the big step of even if because we see this with vitamins quite often, that even when we see the benefits of vitamins in, you know, broccoli or whatever fruit or vegetable that you're eating, oftentimes those benefits don't actually appear once you take out the vitamin and put it in pill form. So even if adaptations are this like amazing, great thing in mushrooms, it doesn't necessarily mean that you will get the same effect if you take them in a pill.
And just because it works in rats doesn't mean it works in panel. Yes. Or anything like this. Just like a lot.
A lot. A lot of layers of stuff we don't know yet. I'm not going to say like, let's never try adaptations or they shouldn't be sold or what have you, but I am going to say, hey, maybe cool it on your, like, a big sweeping claims about what adaptations are capable of doing. Yes. And Mujib's is founder, Amanda Shantal Bacon is her name has very big, very sweeping claims about what adaptations can do.
But basically like because this science is both really underdeveloped and also really highly contested, if you like me, are not a medical researcher or a health care provider, adapted genes and sort of the whole moon juice thing becomes kind of a screen that we can project to our own world views onto. Right. So if you don't tend to buy into alternative medicine treatments, you are probably going to dislike moon juice and you're probably going to relish disliking. Surprises me right now.
Yes, I am raising my hand. It is me often if you are down to try a lot of things, if you have tried, you know, colonics and enemas and acupuncture and acupressure and cupping and Reiki and all of that kind of stuff, then you're probably down for moon juice. Right? The other thing that's important to know about moon juice before we get into Amanda, Shantal Bacon, is that it has an incredibly high price point. So one of their cosmic provisions, quote unquote, from their snack line is a bag of activated cashews in the Moon Juice cookbook.
She tells you how to activate cashews.
And here's how you make kaching. You take raucousness and you serve them in salt and water. Tired of these dead inactivated cashews, tired of these inert cashews, man. Oceanus.
So basically, like they're sprouted cashews. But she explains in the cookbook, we don't call them sprouted because you don't see a sprout coming out of them. And I was just like, whatever. Yeah. Yeah. So you can get a bag of activated cashews, like a normal size. They don't list the number of ounces on the website. But, you know, it looks like, I don't know, eight or 12 ounces of cashews. That bag of activated cashews will set you back thirty dollars.
You can get a 30 day supply of their super beauty supplement where you take two capsules a day. That is sixty dollars. Oh, fuck. And a year's supply of sex dust, which, by the way, their owner, Amanda Shantelle, began strongly suggest taking sex test before work. What? Because she says that creative energy is linked to libidinal energy.
If you're R.. Kelly, I feel like we're normal fucking people.
It's not so a year's supply of sex dust would cost over fifteen hundred dollars.
That's a used car.
Yeah. Yeah, that's right. That's right. So most folks will no moon juice, not because of the brand itself or because the products, but because of its owner, Amanda Shantal Bacon. She is a young white woman. She's in her mid thirties. She's regularly photographed and sort of gauzy white clothing and big floppy hats and turquoise like statement necklaces.
Right. Should I Google image search her right now? Oh, my God. You totally should amend you said Shantal Bakin.
Yeah. Wow. OK, wow. She's extremely pretty. She's very conventionally pretty. Yeah, she's beautiful. In a lot of the photos that are coming up, she's wearing sort of these like Tenaris, Hungarian white linen kind of flowing dresses. It's just like yard after yard of fabric. Yeah. Yeah. She's a conventionally attractive white woman. I can see why people find her messages appealing totally.
She gets she also gets asked a lot about her beauty regimen. And every time her response is like, I don't really wear makeup and like real beauty comes when your body is in its right state. Some are in tune with your body. So she she's really able to sort of like bring that back to moon juice foods and supplements and the whole thing. Right.
Which always bothers me because it's like someone who won the lottery giving you money advice. The key is just to not care and don't wear makeup and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. It's like or the key is to be born with genetics that make you not store body fat, that make you not have acne, that make you have nice hair and nice skin.
I mean, so much of this is totally out of her control. Totally.
It's both like genetic advantage. Right. Plus having kind of astronomical amounts of disposable income. Yeah. So you mentioned in the Google image search, you said the first thing that came up was a food diary. Yes. And that is actually how I came to know of use because of what was in the food diary. So Elle magazine does this thing from time to time where they say, like, tell us everything you eat, where like they invite celebrities to lie about it, basically.
Yeah, totally. So, Amanda, Shantal Bakan wrote her own food diary, and I'm just going to give you a couple of quotes from it. I'm not going to we're not going to lead up. We're just going to do quotes. All right. Do it at eight a.m.. I had a warm morning. She drink on my way to the school, drop off drunk in the car. It contains more than 25 grams of plant protein thanks to vanilla mushroom protein.
And Stone found almond butter and also has the super and the green brain immunity and libido boosting powers of brain dust cordyceps Reishi, Mocca and Shela. I throw Holzschuh, Wu and Purlie in as part of my beauty regime and I chase it with three Quinton shots for mineralisation and Sfeir vitamin B complex packets for energy. You are fucking making this up Aubrey.
This is not real. All of these words are made up. He's having like fucking what was it, quadriceps powder cordyceps.
How did Courtice please don't pretend like you don't know about cordyceps. I see you with your Quinton's shots in the morning.
Initially I was picking out quotes and I just picked out every paragraph because at this level. All right, so here's our lunch for lunch. I had zucchini ribbons with basil, pine nuts, some cured olives and lemon with green tea on the side. That's almost a normal meal.
Let's pause and appreciate if I mean, it sounds good to me, honestly.
Amanda, congratulations. She says this is such an easy, elegant and light meal. I made this while on a phone meeting before heading out for the rest of the workday. I often alternate this with my other lunch staple, a nory roll with Mabuchi paste, avocado, cultured sea vegetables and pea sprouts.
Where the fuck is she getting these ingredients? I wouldn't even know where to begin getting like pea sprouts or whatever.
Yeah, I mean, like, so much of her food is like dependent on you. Take a day each week to media nut milks from scratch to do bubble, but really like to do all this stuff, to ferment things, to do all of that. And I would say all of this does sound like tasty. It sounds tasty to me as a snack. And it's really hard to me to imagine being like my whole lunch was roasted seaweed, fermented plum paste, avocado, fresh seaweed and pea sprouts.
I'm just like, that sounds great. What is lunch? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
What is the real lunch get here? Yeah, I'm totally down to eat these foods and come on lady. It's also interesting how this is wrapped up with sort of her work schedule that she's mentioning with the breakfast that she's dropping off her kids and she's mentioning with the lunch that, oh, I'm doing this on a meeting and then I rush off to work.
The fantasy is that we can all eat like this and deal with all of our other obligations, like, oh, I just, like, whipped together a bunch of zucchini ribbons and, you know, a couple sprigs of basil. I tore them up and it's like, no, the amount of preparation that goes into these kinds of meals and this kind of eating, unless you're like a stay at home person or you have a live in chef or personal assistant who's doing all the shopping for you, it's not attainable for most people.
So, like, one of the things that happened is fallout from this. On that note, first of all, I should say this blew up on the Internet. Oh, yeah. You can imagine the heyday that people had. There were like snarky pieces on like Jezebel and in The New Yorker and like everybody went to town.
I am all for just like heaping scorn on clueless rich people who do shit like this.
Like, I think we always have to temper this with like sometimes it's like shot through with misogyny. There's like there's other things that we need to be wary of and we don't want to go overboard. But I also think that, like, clueless rich people are the most fucking infuriating thing, especially now.
And salty articles about them, I think are completely fine.
But there were two headlines that were like outstanding. One was Jyotirling Tinos headline, which was I've never heard of any of the things this white woman and the other one was from New York magazine. And it just said, this woman makes Gwyneth Paltrow look like God fearing. So it's partly like folks are, you know, there's backlash to the like, incredible, weird, wealthy name dropping ness of it all. And some of it is also this like incredibly curated life that people are like, that's not actually how people live.
There's also the thing that usually these clueless celebrity look at my life type articles, there's usually also a through line of sort of couching this as like sustainability or couching this as like, oh, look how good I am for the planet.
And all this other fake virtue about eating like this and living like this. I mean, oftentimes that. Comes with this implicit or explicit social message about how if everybody lived like this, wouldn't the world be better? And it's like, no, all the data indicates that we cannot live like this and this is not remotely sustainable. But you're telling yourself that you're a good person even while you're, like, baking the planet with this?
Totally. So there's like continual sort of refrain throughout the Munchies cookbook is that you can heal your body and heal the planet. God, the other thing that I will say that was part of the backlash to this piece is that as all of these news outlets started writing about it, a number of them started estimating the cost of these groceries. One website sort of came up with the low end cost and that was about seven hundred dollars a week.
Oh, that's the low end, high end estimate that I found was about twelve hundred dollars a week. Jesus Christ. So this is a diet that is straight up for wealthy people.
There's also a thing I feel like we should also mention. I really have no problem with rich people eating rich people shit and doing rich people shit. If you've made a ton of money and this is what you want to spend your money on, I like morally speaking, I don't particularly care. I think what is offensive to me anyway is sort of the influencer ness of this in the literal sense. They are trying to influence people to live this way and they are implying both that everybody can live this way and that everybody should live this way.
I mean, I think that's part of what's really interesting to me about Jews is that it is this sort of encapsulation of like a lot of the most sort of insidious parts of wellness culture. Right. That's like it's natural. So it's better. You are doing this incredibly self focused and self centered thing that also gets painted as somehow altruistic or somehow benefiting other people, right? Yeah, it lets you be a consumer. Right. You're buying things, which is fun and feels good.
Like I like to buy things and makes you feel like that is somehow for your health and for the benefit of others. Like it's just sort of collapsing. All of these opposing concepts or at least concepts where there are tension between the two, it's collapsing them all into the same bucket and that bucket is full of bread dust.
A lot of this is self-improvement, but it's couching the self-improvement as no, no, I'm doing what everybody should be doing.
So Amandus until they can become sort of this lightning rod. Right. Some through her own doing and some through just being at the right place at the right time to sort of capture a bunch of backlash to the sort of like wealthy wellness stuff that's been on the rise for a while, to the influencer stuff that's been on the rise for a while. And she's particularly invested in and moon juice is particularly invested in this clientele of predominantly wealthy and predominantly white women who become fixated on their own sort of wellness.
Right. And they're all sort of united by like they've got the space to wonder what's wrong with them. Yeah. And because they have the resources to try a bunch of stuff to fix these sort of ill-Defined kind of mystery problems. Right. It's it's really hard to talk about Mujib's without talking about the history of sort of women's wellness. I would see some early examples that I would reach back to are in the eighteen hundreds we start to see this kind of wellness stuff get really medicalized right.
And particularly focused on women. There are a couple of diagnoses in the eighteen hundreds that become very popular. One is neurasthenia and there is histeria, which is basically just like women.
Be crazy, right? I mean, there's not much else to it as my understanding.
Totally. So there were symptoms from histeria. Those symptoms included unusual behaviour failure to marry and they described as having a wandering uterus.
That's like how octopuses eat with a water unit. Yeah. So the idea was that your uterus essentially becomes detached from your vulva.
So totally biological concepts that aren't socially determined at all. Neurasthenia is sort of a twin diagnosis to histeria. It was this purported sort of nervous system condition in which people had depleted energy and that depleted energy or sort of weak nerves as the other way that neurasthenia gets described is seen as a natural consequence of modern civilization, which feels very well Nessy now, right?
Yeah, and very similar to what we saw in our other episodes about this idea that we're this sort of like fallen species who has been degraded from our pure Hunter-Gatherer selves. I mean, this is these are anxieties that seem to cross country and time barriers.
Absolutely. I would say symptoms on this one are a little cloudier. You know, like when Scientologists will recruit people and they'll be like, do you ever feel sad? Yeah, yeah. That's what these symptoms are like to me. So it's symptoms. Are fatigue, anxiety, headache, depression, heart palpitations, right? That is just sort of like, do you ever feel bad?
Yeah, it's adulthood. That is adulthood is just being tired and having a fucking headache.
So this was diagnosed disproportionately in veterans, actually. Essentially, it seems like what we would now call PTSD was that being called neurasthenia. It's diagnosed much more in Americans, so much so that it has the nickname of being American itis and it's overwhelmingly diagnosed in women. So Virginia Woolf writes about her neurasthenia experience and being prescribed a quote unquote rest cure, which is just like you have to be away from the world. I think it's also worth noting that in the eighteen hundreds.
Right, because of sort of the way that white women were situated in the world, that almost all of these diagnoses came at the behest of men. So it would be again, like husbands or fathers complaining about their wives behaviors and deciding to call a doctor who would go up. You got it. Her uterus is detached. And this is also a time when men's bodies are being studied as the default and women's bodies are not being studied at all.
It just seems sort of like defective versions of men's bodies. So it's really, really steeped in these kinds of social values.
But it is interesting how a lot of the kinds of vague symptoms that they were identifying back then are still being diagnosed today.
Yet so much that stuff like cleanses and toxins and purity. I mean, it's not like it's like word for word, the same stuff as we were doing back then.
Absolutely. Like, it maps on really, really cleanly. I would say inflammation also goes in that bucket. Right. Of sort of stuff. That's like, why don't I feel good? And the answer is, here's a bunch of stuff. That might be why I don't feel good. And also you might just not feel good because sometimes life doesn't feel good. Yeah. You know, because we all have off days and also sometimes things are just wrong and bad.
Right. But it sort of keeps these like wealthier white women in this loop of trying to solve the mystery that they haven't even sort of defined what happened. Right. And the way that you solve the mystery is by buying a bunch of stuff.
And it's always one thing, right? It's always like, oh, it's going to be adaptations. Once I take the adaptations, I don't have to change anything else. Everything else is going to be fine. Yeah.
Yeah, that's right. So like all of this is happening, histeria, neurasthenia, all this kind of stuff is happening. Shortly thereafter, we start to see this boon of better living products, which are what we would now call wellness. Right. That's when Coca-Cola is founded as ostensibly a health beverage. Really? Do you not know this about Coca-Cola? No.
I mean, I know that it used to have cocaine in it, but I didn't know that it was like a tonic at first.
Well, that was the tonic was the cocaine. I'll fucking bet it was sex. It's also around the same time that Kellogg's is founded, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, which were invented by John Harvey Kellogg, who was a doctor who ran a sanitarium. The sanitarium was a sort of it sounds a little spa like and he came up with this recipe for toasted cornflakes and his brother bought the rights and started Kellogg's cereal. And it was marketed as health food. Right.
Some of these products were also specifically marketed to women, including one that was advertised in a nineteen to Sears and Roebuck catalogue. Here is the text of that ad. Ladies, you can be beautiful no matter who you are, what your disfigurements may be, you can make yourself as handsome as any lady in the land by the use of our French arsenic wafer.
Arsenic is the only thing standing between you and true beauty. That's totally so.
They say it will take care of your freckles. It'll take care of like any skin breakouts or redness, jaundice or rough skin. They say it will sort of like make you more beautiful than anyone. Just eat arsenic, small doses of poison.
So as you've noted, there's a lot of this we like. We sort of hear echoes of this today. Right. And, you know, as close as we get in the moon juice world and then contemporary wellness in terms of a definition of being well, is just like is your whole life going the way you want it to? Right. Are you happy every day? Are you having great sex every day? Are you alert every time you're awake?
God, is anybody right? But again, like this is just being a person in the world.
Yeah, it's I mean, yeah, it's hard to talk about this without sounding jorgy. Right. Because people do struggle with fatigue. People do struggle with sleep, general, you know, aches and pains. People get lower back pain as they get older at their knees hurt. You know, there's just a lot of hurt going around. And like, you don't want to in any way invalidate that or act to people like, oh, just you complaining, which it objectively isn't like people.
Are hurting mentally and physically, but also what is gross about stuff like moon juice is that then you get these fucking vampires coming in and using those real problems as an opportunity to sell you bullshit. Yeah, that does not help you and enriches them.
Right. And as any person who is disabled or who has a chronic illness will tell you, you will hear about this shit. But like this moon juice style nonsense all the time as a prescriptive thing. Right, right. So people who are disabled will get like a hey, you just need to try this mushroom powder or you just need to eat more vegetables or you just need to exercise more or you just need to blah, blah, blah. Right.
So it also sort of like not only does it not help people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, it also sort of feeds into this weird concern, trolling abled people saying, I know better than you disabled person kind of vibe. That's really creepy.
Yeah, it reinforces this idea that, you know, if you have a real illness like it must be because you're not eating enough probiotics or there's something you're doing wrong, as opposed to just trying to connect with that person and trying to find out what their experience is like.
It's like you're constantly looking for a reason that they've done it to themselves totally. Like if you have chronic fatigue syndrome, which is a real thing that people have thought is fake for decades, it's like, oh, no, no, no, it must be a food allergy. It must be because you did this wrong. It must be because you're not getting enough fresh air. The explanations change over the decades, but there's always some reason why you don't have a real ailment.
It's really gross, right? It's just really gross for from every angle, I mean, to like bring us back to moon juice land in particular. Moon juice is kind of almost synonymous with Amanda Shantelle Bacon, right? She's the face of the brand. She's the only moon juice employee who's really quoted anywhere. That said, it's really difficult to dig in on her because the only things we know about Amanda, Shantal Bacon are what she has told us, which is not much there is not a Wikipedia page for her or for you, which is super strange.
All we have are sort of these kind of tales that she tells about her own wellness or lack of wellness. I should think, like in fairness, all anybody knows about me is what I've told them. This is.
Yeah. Being a public semipublic figure. Yeah. Yes.
So there are a couple of sort of stories that she tells about her own, her own wellness or lack thereof that are sort of really important to the mythology of virtues. She says she grew up in New York City and she had this bronchial issue as a small child. She's like four or five when this is happening. She's coughing at night. She can't figure out what it is. Western doctors, she says repeatedly, are of no help. And, you know, sometimes they say she will outgrow it or whatever.
Right. So she's just like living with this kind of miserable condition until she and her parents are grocery shopping in a health food store. When a stranger hears her hacking cough and comes over and says that she should stick out her tongue, he takes her pulse. He asks her a couple of questions, and it turns out that he is an iron Vedic medicine practitioner from India. Oh, I thought he was going to turn out to be L. Ron Hubbard.
So she says within just a few minutes that he makes this diagnosis and tells her everything she needs to do, which includes avoiding wheat, dairy and sugar. But she also says that within a week of doing it, that all of her symptoms are gone. So here's a quote from her about sort of the effects of eating this way. As I grew, my immune system also became stronger. So I was able to have moments of flexibility. Even then, I always felt that the next day and I was susceptible to bronchitis, chronic sinusitis and terrible allergies.
As I moved into my teens, I began to receive warnings from Western medical practitioners, which became diagnoses of exhaustion, hormonal imbalance and emotional distress ranging from the auto immune disorders, depression, pre diabetes and a whole range of other maladies. All of these diagnoses came with the message that it was a lifelong sentence that could only be addressed with synthetic drugs and that failing to take those drugs would ultimately be life threatening. Oh God, I really love how much you hate this.
My God, it's just such a human story. And it's so it could be such a, like, inspiring and nice story of somebody who found happiness in this unconventional way. But instead of using it as a platform to show curiosity about what's going on with other people, she uses it as a platform to be like everybody else's body. Must be just like mine. Totally.
I just we hear this so often. It's. These nice inspirational stories that just become gross marketing bullshit. So she's doing all of this later on, she also goes on a juice cleanse to to cure her own sugar addiction.
Of course, juice cleanses are involved in this.
Here's another quote from sort of the effects of going on this juice cleanse. The changes weren't all physical. I noticed that the inclusion of green juices and live plant foods in my diet and cited a personality shift, OK, thought patterns and roles I had assumed were part of my quote unquote personality dissolved. These apparently deep seated traits of mine were disappearing just as my cough had vanished. Oh my God. In the absence of sugar, wheat and dairy. Oh my God.
The foods I was choosing were changing the nature of the thoughts that were creating my reality.
Oh, no, she's like a kid who studied abroad. And then they come home and they're like, actually in Belgium, the way that they do things is Michael, she did this juice cleanse in Italy.
Course I'm good. This is happening during a chapter of her life when she is spending her teens and 20s traveling the world.
It hurts me so much because I fucking was that kid. I studied abroad and I was so insufferable when I got back.
I didn't study abroad, but I have the air of support. I had the undue certainty. Oh, so. Well, here's part two. She says, I began to react to life triggers differently. The live plant foods and medicinal herbs I fed myself gave me a new sensitivity and access to a subtle yet powerful energy force. Whatever. This is what ultimately led to the birth of own juice. As I became aware that there could be nothing better for me to do with my days than share this new wealth with others.
Oh, no. But then if your goal on this planet is to share your knowledge and your wellness with other people, why do you charge so fucking much for it?
This is almost exactly what a reporter with Marketplace asks her. At one point she does an interview and she's like, look, the point of this isn't so that I can retire in Hawaii and make a bunch of money. The point of this is to bring it to the people. And the reporter says, right, but the juice that I just had was fourteen dollars. Do you think that the people like you like your point? Like, it's the only interview that I've heard with Amanda Shantelle Bacon that is kind of holds her feet to the fire.
Oh yeah. And it's so gentles. Yeah. But I like the idea underlying the sort of like my whole emotional world shifted and stuff. It feels very much like the secret to me. Oh totally. Yeah. Right. Like any flaws in your personality, any relationship struggles you have, any trauma you might have. Right. Are all a result of like something is wrong in your body and everything can be fixed by diet too.
That it's like this one relatively superficial change about my lifestyle will solve all of these completely unrelated problems. Right.
It's similar to the sort of like anti psychiatry thread of Scientology. Right. Which is not only is there like one way to fix this, but also you should sort of mistrust people who are telling you there are other solutions. Right. Right. So I kind of want to dig in to the Moon Juice cookbook. OK, I got this from the library. I read the whole thing. I thought it was just going to be a bunch of wacky recipes and there's plenty of that.
But it also sort of lays out the moon juice way of life. Oh, it's like the Ten Commandments. Totally. And there are actually like ten things that you're supposed to do, like there's like go organic and eat adaptations and all of that kind of stuff. But the things that really stood out to me about the moon juice book were a few things. One, the number of contradictions and tensions here that she just sort of never really resolved straight.
She says like this isn't about restricting your diet, it's about additions to your diet. But also when you add those things to your diet, you shouldn't eat more than this amount of sugar. She says this isn't about weight loss and that healthy is a different size and shape for everyone. But if you do this, it will lead to weight loss.
This is like the new rhetoric around weight, because now that people are finally acknowledging the fact that fat phobia exists, there's now this move to be like we're not telling you to lose weight, but you're going to lose weight if you do this right.
She also says, like, this is about health. It's not about beauty. I'm not telling you to look a certain way, but when you're healthy, you will have this glow and you will, you know what I mean? Like all of this sort of stuff. She also says she because she doesn't believe in restriction, she's not vegan, but she doesn't eat animal products like Vido. OK, then you're probably get a different thing.
I'm not a Christian, but I just believe that Jesus was killed on the cross and then was resurrected three days later. But I'm not a Christian.
She sort of seems to know that her customers will bristle at that kind of prescriptive stuff, but they will accept it if it's a by product. Of a loftier enterprise, right? Right, and I think it's also worth noting, like this is the logic of weight loss, right? If you get your body right, your whole life will fall into place. What she's selling here, essentially, is the idea that, like, you know, like she's saying, like, I stopped eating wheat and I started doing juice cleanses and my whole personality changed and I felt happy all the time.
I was eager to be like, all of these things sort of change. And it is this idea, this sort of very tempting, magical thinking that if you can just address this one thing that's kind of mechanical, that you don't actually have to do the messy work of fixing your relationships. You don't have to worry about uncertainty or heartbreak or sickness or any of the things that makes life uncomfortable or uncertain.
That is a very insightful way that you just put it, that the rhetoric has shifted from you need to lose weight, too. You need to eat a more pure diet. And as a side effect, by the way, you will also lose weight. Right. But you're couching it as this loftier goal like, oh, I'm becoming a better person. Oh, and by the way, I'm finally going to have abs totally.
But it's not superficial. And if you think it's superficial, then that's actually your stuff. Yeah.
Part of what I sort of sat with while reading the Juice cookbook and like working overtime to set aside my skepticism, to just be like I really do want to sort of consume this on its own terms. Was that it really it doesn't seem ill intended. Oh, yeah. This just feels like a very insulated, very wealthy white woman who does not imagine, you know, I think she thinks this is like only a net gain to the world and doesn't really think about like, who could this hurt, OK?
Yeah, she doesn't think about all that stuff. And I also don't think she's, like, necessarily cynically profiteering off of it. I think she's just wealthy and has always had money. It doesn't occur to her that a 14 dollar juice is like not an option.
I also think that as adults, we should all be cognizant enough of history to know that some of the worst things that have ever been done have been done with genuine good intentions.
You know, the road to hell. Exactly. I mean, there's oftentimes, especially in the media, how we sort of give people like Gwyneth Paltrow a pass, because it is very obvious that, like, they believe what they are saying, they think that they are helping the world.
They are doing this out of genuine, like, philanthropic instincts. But oftentimes, regardless of the intention, the effect of their advice can be really pernicious. And that a certain point, if you are one of the people in an industry where you are giving this advice and that is having documented pernicious negative effects over and over and over again, at a certain point it is negligent to not change what you are doing totally.
I would say there has not necessarily been a lot of documented pernicious effects with Monteux.
That's I mean, it's not it's not like fenthion. It's people are not overdosing on it, I guess. Totally.
It feels kind of like the wellness version of the college admissions scandal. Oh, right. Where you're like, oh, it's just like rich people doing rich people things. Right. And it's sort of all happening in that closed world. Right. And the rest of us can see into it, but we can't I'm not like affected by I'm not negatively affected by anyone else taking money, juice or believing in it or whatever. Right.
On some level, I mean, you can just not buy moon juice and continue to live our lives and it's fine.
That's right. I will say I do think it feeds rhetoric that's unhelpful. Right. And is sort of feeding into a culture like a sea change culturally that I find unhelpful. Yeah, but I, I don't think like I don't think Amanda Shantal Bacon, at least I haven't come across anything that's like I was personally harmed by this.
I don't want to put her in the gulag like I have no same not Soran.
So this is actually another thing about the Mujib's cookbook that I find really interesting. She talks about like I'm not a doctor, but I have studied under all of these herbalists and alternative medicine practitioners and all this sort of stuff. And I want to bring the lessons that I've learned to you. She doesn't cite the sources, right? There's no there's no footnotes. Lemon juice cookbook.
There's no citations that because they're all like Q and on Facebook groups.
But like, in addition to not citing her sources and not saying, hey, this came from this study, at this point, she also sort of flows pretty freely back and forth between her own experience and her own worldview and these findings that she sort of says exists and she doesn't really announce when she's changing. Right. As a reader, it becomes really difficult to pull apart what is a widely accepted scientific claim, what is a disputed scientific claim? What is her own worldview?
What is my wishful thinking as a reader that I want to believe? Right. Like, it's really hard to pinpoint what is coming from where she talks. A lot about purging fat soluble toxins, but doesn't say what those toxins are. Oh, no toxins. That's like such a red flag for me because it's such a poorly defined term.
Well, also, every health care provider I know, including alternative medicine providers, are all like you. That's why you have a liver. So did you make any of the recipes in the book? I did not.
I thought of there are some that look actually like really good to me. She has a recipe for cherry and black pepper jam. Oh, that actually sounds really good. Doesn't that sound so good? Yeah. She says it's like a low glycemic. Oh, shut up Amand. It's just a great jam. God.
And it's like as someone said, like one of my best friends is a type one diabetic. She's like, what's in it? And I was like, oh she puts in like agave or maple syrup or whatever. And my friend Lisa is like cool. So I can't have that because that's still just sugar. It's fucking sugar. I mean, it's fine to eat sweets like it's not white sugar.
So I think there's some belief that because white sugar is more processed. Right. That it is less natural and therefore worse, which is not true.
By the way, we will do an entire episode on this eventually. It's just not true.
It's just like your body receives honey and maple syrup and agave and all of that stuff is sugar. If you look at the labels of all of those things, they just are sugar.
Yeah, it's fine to eat something that's bad for you sometimes. Like brownies or fucking good eat a brownie. It's fine.
Totally. There's sort of this presumption that there is knowledge that we are not tapping into. Yeah. From other cultures, which is also like totally true. Yes, sure. And also it feels equally unhelpful to be like none of our stuff is the answer. Yeah, right. And all of this other stuff is the answer.
And to exoduses foreign cultures of like they have like hidden secrets that we don't have access to when actually we need to have processes to evaluate the truth of health claims, like whether it's coming from like Confucian medicine or like a straight up lab in New Jersey, we need to have the same processes to determine, OK, we're going to test this concept and then we're going to decide if it's beneficial or not.
That's right. But on top of that, there's also like really weird race dynamics happening here. Oh, no. She is borrowing ingredients from centuries old traditions of IHR Vaida, of herbalism, of traditional Chinese medicine. Yeah. And that it is talked about in such broad terms when she talks about your Vayda only in the terms of being like this is a an herb that's used in Nirvana or this is an ingredient used in Chinese medicine. That's about it, right?
Yeah. I talked to one Chinese medicine practitioner for this piece who described it as being sort of the trappings of Chinese medicine without any of the logic or treatment of it. A big part of Chinese medicine is there is a whole paradigm about how energy flows through your body, all of these sort of gears that get turned right. And she's just sort of pulling out one of those gears. Right, and going, this is the thing that to eat this one thing.
Right. Similarly, Ayurveda has deep roots in Hinduism and diet is one small part of it. But the way that Amanda Shantal Bacon is presenting it, she's presenting it as her thing as a white woman. She sort of talks about her teachers, right. In broad terms, but she never names those people. She's not lifting up those people. She's just personally profiting as a white woman from sort of cherry picking parts of Eastern medicine to sell at really high prices.
Right. Like in very concrete terms, that is what's happening. Right. You're just using carrots.
It's fine. She's using it as like a marketing thing.
I mean, I think so much of this sort of L.A. white people, influencer thing drawing upon these other medical traditions, so much of it feels like a shield to me. You're like, oh, bee pollen, it's really good for you. And someone says, well, there's really no studies to back that up at all.
And you're like, it's Chinese. Right? That's not really a defense of anything. And it's not clear that it is Chinese. And you're taking that out of context. Like it just feels like a way of deflecting criticism of being like, oh, it's from Eastern quote unquote Eastern medicine, which like which which century you're talking about. Which country are we talking about? You know, it's never quite specific if we're being honest.
The people who are part of that conversation about like, is this or is this not legit or overwhelmingly white people? So it becomes a way for one white person to invoke race and freak out the other white person? Yeah, yeah. Part of that conversation is absolutely no one knows what they're talking about. Yes. And it also embraces contemporary Chinese medicine, right? Yeah. Sort of, again, like taking ownership away from the communities that are still practicing this and talking about it as some sort of like magical historical thing.
I think any theory that depends on this idea that one society at a particular time and a particular. Had it figured out, I just think that as a meta analysis of world history is just never going to be correct, because at any time in history, in any societal anything, there's going to be pros and cons like ancient Chinese, anything.
Those societies had problems, just like our society has problems.
There's no such thing as like a good society in some unremembered past like that doesn't exist.
Just to be really clear, like none of this is actually about Chinese medicine, but this is actually about Ayurveda. Good point. All of this is about right. Like none of this. None of this. Like there is no Primeur in the Moon cookbook on Ayurveda and what it does and how it works. Right. There is no primer on Chinese medicine and CZI and how energy flows through the body and all of that kind of stuff, really that none of that is covered.
She essentially is just sort of paying lip service to it. And you're right, like using it as a marketing tool. Right. This is all very much shaped by the sort of white gaze. This is a cookbook that is produced by a wealthy white person for other wealthy white people who are not going to like I say, we're not going to go to an herbalist in an immigrant community. But they will buy the same products when they are repackaged in sort of minimalist jars sold to them by like a young, conventionally beautiful white woman in a storefront in Venice Beach.
Yeah, so she has a recipe for something called a yam. Julius Yam.
Julius, is that like a sweet potato juice? She says this is an Orange Julius, but made with yam where you are juicing raw yams, OK, and adding ground cinnamon and some other things. And she's like a taste, just like an Orange Julius, but it's made with a yam juice. Sure. She says she loves lemonade, but it's too sugary. So instead she makes beet aid.
Beets are also really sugary. Most of the sugar that we get is actually processed from beets, not from sugar cane.
She also has a recipe for something I already don't want to. I put it in because I was like, this is hilarious. And I'm like, I don't want to say it. It's called hot sex milk.
You what the fuck is in it? We went from sex does to hot sex milk and I don't want either one. Yeah. So what is in hot sex. Milk is pumpkin seed milk mocha powder holzschuh woo coconut oil, cocoa powder. She Sandra Berries Kayan and bee pollen.
I mean sure I don't know. I feel like some of the stuff is just if something is kind of unpleasant then it must be good for you. Totally.
Totally. I will say she also includes sort of the mission of moon juice.
Oh love missions. I fucking love rich lady products with missions.
Just everything about this quote. This is maybe my favorite memory is, quote, hotel. My people always ask if I knew moon juice would be so successful. And to be honest, I did. There's a cosmic calling and a powerful movement here to push us forward as a race. Oh, my God. A big part of the movement is caring for our bodies as well as for the health of our planet. For fuck's sake.
Any time we make a move towards supporting or joining that mission, we tune into the flow of other worldly success and abundance. That's what Moon's use really is, not just a product or a place, but rather a healing force and etheric potion and a cosmic beacon for the evolutionary movement of seeking beauty, happiness and longevity.
She got one of the sets of refrigerator magnets with words on them. I just like put them in an order.
Oh, just like transcendent harmony planet. She got two sheets that just say cosmic. I mean, she genuinely seemed to be pretty OK with people having fun at her expense. OK, she's sort of like I see that as an entry point.
Oh gosh. She's going to listen to this. And I tweeted out with like a winky face, isn't she?
I don't know what's going to happen. There's actually a great quote from another New York Times piece called How Amanda Shantelle Bacon perfected the celebrity wellness business. Just like good job. The quote from that piece is this What goup and acolytes like Monju sell is the notion that it's not only excusable but worthy for a person to spend hours a day focused on her tiniest mood shifts, your food choices, beauty rituals, exercise habits, bathing routines and sleep schedule. What they sell is self-absorption as the ultimate luxury product.
Oh, that's good. The other thing that I would say about this are proof positive that moon juice has a very, very wealthy client base is that they actually say that many of their products, especially their sleep related products, their sales have increased up to 70 percent during the covid pandemic.
I mean, that's that's just because everyone in.
America is suffering from fucking clinical anxiety right now, and none of us can fucking sleep, I haven't slept since March, man, nobody sleeping, totally nobody sleeping, but also who has 70 dollars to drop on a magnesium supplement or whatever that says that it will help you sleep.
Magnesium, really, there's this actually called magnesium. That's actually pretty good, though. I know, I know, you know, the marketing is very good. I'll fucking bet it is. And that's I think the more that I sort of dug in on this, the more it was like, oh, it is marketing. Oh, yeah.
I mean, most of our buying decisions, like the bottle of wine that you buy at the store is based on like the font and the graphic design on the label.
Like none of us know enough about most of the products we buy to make any kind of informed judgment beyond this label looks attractive to me.
She really knows what she can sell and how she can sell it. And she really knows that ultimately she is sort of the product. Yeah. Anyway, that's moon juice.
That's boogers. Now I know what it is now. I wish I could go back and not know that anymore.
And you, like me, can get drunk at parties and yell at people about shit if I ever go to a party again.
Yes. That is what I will do.
Yes, totally. Don't go to parties right now, but sometime in the mystical future.
I also think we somehow skipped over the fact that her entire origin story is based on her coughing in a store and a random man coming up to her and diagnosing her with an illness.
I still think the central advice to come out of this episode is don't do that.
A, don't go up to small children in stores and diagnose them with anything and be probably don't accept the diagnosis of random men who hear you coughing and come up to you and take your pulse.
Right. It's like it's a medical meet. Cute. Yes. It's just the whole thing is just odd. And I really I sort of struggle with a lot of elements of this, right. Where I'm like, yeah, it's of course. Do your thing. Yeah, go forth. God bless. Again, I'm not personally harmed by other people using brain dust. And at the same time, this really is like feeding into weird race dynamics that happen in the wellness community.
It really is an encapsulation of the sort of strange attitude toward disability and wellness spaces. It really plays into classism. It's just a really fascinating little encapsulation of all that stuff, I think.
Yes, it's dark and weird and problematic. But if you like your sex milk, you can keep it.
This has been maintenance phase.