love and light

Zen and the Art of Reading The Moon Juice Cookbook

Amanda Chantal Bacon and her cookbook

It’s not even 9 a.m., and I am sitting in my cubicle convinced that I might die from the free packet of Moon Juice’s Power Dust that I poured into my latte. The contents smelled terrible as they hit my coffee and a gulp later, I can confirm that they taste even worse — simultaneously musty and saccharine sweet.

I turn over the empty sleeve and read the ingredients — organic astragalus, ginseng, organic eleuthero, organic schisandra, rhodiola, and organic stevia — and realize I’ve only heard of approximately one and a half of them. I see a warning: “Consult your healthcare provider prior to use if you are pregnant, nursing, taking any medication or if you have a medical condition. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN” — and then another: “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.” And this is when I start to spiral.

Now, if I were to meet my demise from a Moon Juice product, it would probably be karmic retribution for all the times I have made fun of its founder, Amanda Chantal Bacon. Like most people, I first became aware of Bacon back in February, when a sublimely New-Agey food diary she shared with Elle in 2015 inexplicably began to recirculate. In it, she detailed a daily regimen that included an expected amount of green juice, along with other unfamiliar and expensive-sounding ingredients like activated cashews, cordyceps, Shilajit resin, maca, and quinton shots (who? what?). She claimed that a seaweed roll with vegetables was her “version of a taco” and that it was “insanely delicious.” In short, she made Gwyneth Paltrow look like Guy Fieri.

Over the summer, Bacon reemerged in the cultural consciousness when she posted an Instagram imploring whomever had stolen a rose quartz crystal from her shop’s Silverlake location to return it, lest they face “the energy of a stolen crystal.” Musician Father John Misty trolled her by claiming he stole the crystal, kicking off the most aggressively L.A. feud of all time and leading me to become wholly obsessed with Bacon.

I checked her Instagram multiple times a day for crystal updates. I became fixated on this particularly troubling image of chia seed pudding in a gluten-free cone. I shrieked and nearly fell out of my desk chair when I saw her posing with her arms outstretched toward the moon, the photo captioned “BY THE LIGHT OF THE FULL HARVEST MOON [sic].”

How was it possible that anyone could be that much of a caricature of themselves? And why did the serene smile on the face of wellness capitalism never seem to fade? Then I learned Bacon would be releasing a book, which, in many ways, is like an Instagram feed printed out and bound together. By the light of Gaia, I needed to have it.

When I received The Moon Juice Cookbook, the first page I flipped open to was the dedication, which read “for my teachers, seen and unseen, especially Rohan.” (Rohan is Bacon’s toddler.) More notably, it featured a full-bleed photo of a rose quartz crystal, so it felt like the book was really dedicated to me.

Amanda…thank you. It means so much. Photo: John von Pamer

And now I am going to say something that you just need to trust me on: Paging through Bacon’s cookbook was a quasi-religious experience; I felt gleeful to the point of borderline hallucination after reading some lines. For instance, there is the sentence, “Moon pots are the epitome of fancy lazy,” a string of vaguely illogical words that lodged in my brain the second I read it and refuses to let go. (Moonpotsaretheepitomeoffancylazy!) There is her desire, expressed earnestly and with a slightly confused understanding of global politics, “to be the one who gets to hug you as you tell me you actually really like the taste of unsweetened green juice, and that maybe world peace really does start in the kitchen.”

And there are the visuals, like the opening to Chapter 6 — Yoghurt, Kefir & Cheese — which features hands, presumably Bacon’s, just absolutely coated in congealed yogurt. Look at them. Look at the yogurt hands.

What the heck Photo: John von Pamer

I will admit that the recipes in the cookbook seemed slightly more accessible than anticipated. For most, you’ll need a dehydrator or juicer, but the majority of ingredients are fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds. They’re not necessarily cheap, but at no point does Bacon ask the reader to retreat to the desert with their crystal collection during a full moon and spend the night freebasing bee pollen while wearing nothing but an avocado face mask in preparation for making chia seed pudding. I had set the bar extremely low (or high, depending on how you look at it).

Because I was expecting this: I knew I would enjoy the experience of reading Bacon’s book with the explicit intent of mocking it. What I wasn’t prepared for was coming to understand her motivations for undertaking her diet and even empathizing with her. Bacon candidly details the multitude of health problems she’s faced — autoimmune disorders, countless food allergies, attention-deficit disorder, and even depression and anxiety. She also says her diet has kept her symptoms at bay and makes her feel healthy and energized. (Elisabeth Donnelly thoughtfully touched upon this in an essay about finding comfort in a clean-eating regimen after her mother was diagnosed with cancer.) Who can blame her for her decidedly unchill, non-FDA-approved ways when, according to her, they’ve improved her quality of life so much? Who doesn’t want to look and, more crucially, feel their best?

Peek-a-boo Photo: John von Pamer

It’s also worth considering that one of the many reasons Bacon is criticized is because of the sheer effort she appears to put into what she eats. After all, women are expected to be thin and beautiful while also acting as if that is achieved solely on a diet of cheeseburgers and pizza. Her un-self-consciousness about her eating habits violates that unspoken rule — though I suppose it’s easy to be so open about your routine when you’re cashing in on selling $10 juices and $30 jars of fancy dust to the wellness-obsessed L.A. elite.

So by the time I decided to try one of Bacon’s dusts, I had softened on her a bit. I plucked the “Power” variety out of a free sampler I had received that included “Dream,” “Brain,” “Spirit,” “Beauty, and “Sex.” I gagged it down — secretly hoping for an energy boost despite my skepticism for Bacon’s whole deal — and found that, after my initial panic, I felt exactly the same as I did before I drank it.

I didn’t see the light and hop on the crystal-and-juicing train, but I didn’t keel over at my desk either. Though after I went down my anxiety spiral and calmed down again, I realized that if there is one overarching lesson to take away from all of this, it’s that you should not, under any circumstances, spend $30 on a jar of dust.

Should you want to experience the Moon Juice magic yourself, Bacon will be hosting an event in New York City celebrating the launch of her cookbook at Bookmarc NY (400 Bleecker Street) on October 25 at 6 p.m.

Zen and the Art of Reading the Moon Juice Cookbook