It's friday night. happy hour at a popular bar in the
Mission; liberal shots with chasers are on sale for half price. By 5:30 the regulars are
lined up at the door, jonesing for their end-of-the-day fix. "l'm really going for it
tonight," enthuses one grinning young man. "l'm get ring two triples!"
He's slugging down a potent potion that can't get you drunk,
although arguably it can give you a high --an energy high, that is. It's wheat grass
juice, the green liquid that many proponents swear has innumerable health benefits, such
as preventing tooth decay, improving digestion, curing dandruff, and detoxifying blood.
Fanatics stick it in virtually any human orifice--mouth, nose, vagina, anus--and even put
the pulp on their skin to treat bruises.
As if they were in some kind of natural-health-channel version of
Cheers, the grass-happy denizens here at Wheat Grass Growers Farm and Depot know one
another's names. There s the woman who buys the grass to treat her boyfriend's prostate
cancer. There's the artist who uses her daily shot to rid her body of toxic chemicals that
she may have absorbed while working with oil paints. They banter with one another and the
farmer and proprietor, Eva Moen.
"This AIDS is really kicking my ass. I really need the
energy!" exclaims one agitated customer as she waits for her shot with her daughter,
who grumbles about how bad the stuff tastes. "Anything that's good for you tastes
kind of nasty," says another patron, who downs her two-ounce shot from a paper cup in
in a slow moment, David the bartender speculates that he might be
getting so many good tips today because of the sweater he's wearing-it's bright green,
just like the pungent mash that he's slowly producing from the juicer.
The exterior walls of this cheery red barn, near the -corner of 15th
Street and Guerrero, are covered with pamphlets proselytizing the wonders of wheat grass
and its life-giving chlorophyll. Inside, slogans above the bar offer chipper mantras like
"purifies air and water" and "protects against radiation!" One wall
holds a makeshift shrine to Ann Wigmore, the modern-day prophet of wheat grass. A quote
from Wigmore's book, "Be' Your Own Doctor, reveals that she was fulfilling the
teachings of ancient prognosticators: "120 centuries ago, on the continent of
Atlantis, it was predicted that the real health-giving properties of WHEAT GRASS would be
learned by some far distant generation, when men would be given the key to save a
tottering civilization from extinction." As Moen sees it, she's quite literally on a
mission from God: "God gave me a vision, I was floating in space, and I saw the world
covered with short green grass." She woke up at midnight, not sure of the dream's
significance -astroturf? -- until she encountered wheat grass a few days later at a health
food store. To commemorate this sacred beginning, a picture of Moen, arms outstretched, as
if in a night flight to enlightenment, is tacked to the ceiling.
Like a mythic hero, Moen tried to resist her calling--why me, God?
--but eventually came around and accepted her mission. "God wouldn't leave me alone
about this wheat grass," she shrugs.
Moen attests that the grass coupled with a chaser called Rejuvalac
--a yummy, flavored drink containing enzymes--cured her of severe alcoholism and weight
problems. "Of course, no one believes me. But it's the truth."
Since she started her business in the '80s, when her chief customers
were local pet-food stores, "wheat grass has proven itself," she says. She isn't
bothered that many medical doctors and even natural health gurus like Dr. Andrew Well
reject all claims about its powers. She answers to her God, not the American Medical
Association. And it's the fervor of zealots like Moen that makes you understand why the
many health-conscious types in the mainstream --joggers in the Marina and stroller-pushing
moms in Noe Valley--now think it's good to drink the juice.
Moen's ultimate goal: wheat grass on every breakfast table, like
orange juice. Just inside the door there's an artist's conception of the wheat grass
franchise that she aims to inspire. It looks like a natural foods McDonald's, complete
with outdoor picnic tables and parking spaces.
And in the crowded bar during happy hour, it seems devilish or at
least mean to ask whether the elixir really works. These serious juicers find their
salvation in their own chlorophyll-enhanced world, where the grass really is always
Happy hour takes place Wednesdays and Fridays, 4-6 pm., Wheat Grass
Growers Farm and Depot, 1785 15th St., S.F: Visit the establishment online: at
Katharine Mieszkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.