Catherine Cuello, Green Hopping
Catherine Cuello is originally from the Dominican Republic and moved to New York in 2010. She is passionate about food advocacy, labeling GMOs, and more organic produce availability. Her professional background is rooted in political and corporate communications, having worked on the Obama reelection campaign and for fortune 500 companies such as General Motors. She holds a BA in politics, history and journalism from Coventry University, England.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass and it’s time for part two of this show here on February 18th, 2014! We are hopping here in the studio- Green Hopping! I’m talking with Catherine Cuello who is originally from the Dominican Republic and moved to New York in 2010. She is passionate about food advocacy, labeling GMOs, and more organic produce availability. Her professional background is rooted in political and corporate communications, having worked on the Obama reelection campaign and for Fortune 500 companies such as General Motors. She holds a B.A. in politics, history, and journalism from Coventry, England. And she’s here in the studio! We’re going to be talking a little bit about her new app. Hi Catherine!
Catherine Cuello: Hi Caryn, thank you so much for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! You know, you could bring that a little closer to you…it can be in front of the box. There we go! We should all be comfortable here. Okay, so let’s talk first about this app that you’ve got. What is it, and why is it, and how is it, and what are we going to do about it?
Catherine Cuello: Green Hopping is an app that is available at the app store and we are currently developing the platform to also be on Androids. It’s available in New York City, but we are also working on launching additional U.S. cities, a ton of them. And essentially the app is your helper in your phone to find organic green juice bars, to find your nearest smoothie, to find restaurants that cater to your vegan diet, or that serve raw foods or raw desserts, or gluten free options. We are trying to be the go-to source when it comes to healthy eating, but for me healthy means natural or non-altered organic.
Caryn Hartglass: Minimally processed.
Catherine Cuello: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: Here in New York City it’s the greatest city in the world… if you could make it here you could make it anywhere, but you don’t want to be anywhere else but here. It’s kind of a love-hate thing we’ve got going on here in New York City. But this is the empire of green juice. There are more green juice bars here than anywhere, aren’t there?
Catherine Cuello: Yeah. When I first started my journey two years ago after a health scare that I suffered, I basically changed my diet overnight because I did not want to go with all the heavy pills and medications. I was 23, I lost my left ovary, and the treatment that they wanted me to do could also possibly affect my right ovary. So I started reading and researching, and I found Kris Carr, who obviously a lot of people know.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, Crazy Sexy Cancer.
Catherine Cuello: Crazy Sexy Cancer. She’s incredible. And her book, that was it. I mean, it was super easy to read. I read it in like a day, and I said, “No. Whatever the doctors want me to do is not for me.” So I started juicing literally overnight and went raw literally overnight. Then I moved toward the Obama campaign, I moved to Miami because that’s where they wanted me, and so I started the journey in Miami. It was a little easier because it’s warm and you have fruit.
Caryn Hartglass: Have you been to Josh’s in North Hollywood?
Catherine Cuello: No…
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, have you heard of it?
Catherine Cuello: Yeah, but I haven’t been.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s the most amazing farmers’ market anywhere! And juice bar!
Catherine Cuello: Well I have had their products, but they come bring it down from the farm, and they’ll sell it at Saturday farmers’ markets. But no, I was in Miami.
Caryn Hartglass: I know Josh.
Catherine Cuello: Maybe I’m thinking of Glaser Farms.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s right on the beach in North Hollywood.
Catherine Cuello: Yeah, I’m thinking of Glaser Farms.
Caryn Hartglass: This Josh Steinhauser, he is a very hardworking, passionate individual and he has worked with many farmers, and he’s got this great farmers’ market…
Catherine Cuello: Oh, then I have to check it out.
Caryn Hartglass: …and a great juice bar too.
Catherine Cuello: I know I’m thinking of Glaser Farms when they bring their stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: This guy is so energized from all the greens that he’s eating. He’s just bouncing, hopping!
Catherine Cuello: Yeah. Hopping, there you go. That’s the inspiration for the name. In Miami I would juice and I had to Google to find these bars. And then I moved to New York, and it’s like, whoa. You have all these places and people are really into it, either for the nutritional side of it or just because it’s trendy. Who knows? But they’re there, they’re thriving, and I love it. So that’s how the app…I said, “If it’s hard for me and this is my lifestyle, I’m assuming that it’s harder for other people.” And just to make it easier and to inspire more change, and so that it’s more mainstream- which is my frustration because I’m 25 and it’s hard to go out, it’s an issue all the time. So that’s really how Green Hopping came to life.
Caryn Hartglass: I love it. My listeners know I juice every day. In fact I was talking earlier in the show, I’m going off to a place where you can’t find much green food and I just picked up some of (5:20) to bring with me. Because if I can’t get the fresh raw greens, which is the best, I’ve got to have at least some kind of good powder. I had advanced ovarian cancer back in 2006 and I know that I am here today partly because I committed to green juicing. There’s nothing kale can’t do! In fact, I may bring this guy on the show sometime later, someone that I met and we became friends and I got him excited about kale. Now he’s off studying nutrition, getting a master’s. He’s doing some great scientific work with using kale juice and (6:01), and finding that the cancer cells are just knocked out.
Catherine Cuello: Do you have oven baked kale or just kale in juice?
Caryn Hartglass: I have a food show called It’s All About Greens on my responsibleeatingandliving.com website, it’s a four part show. I juice greens, I blend greens, I steam greens, and I cook them, I have them in all shapes and sizes. Because raw food is great, but when it comes to greens, the cooked greens, there’s some absorbability that goes on, and you can get…
Catherine Cuello: Like broccoli.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I can’t eat broccoli raw.
Catherine Cuello: It’s heavy, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: It doesn’t work for me.
Catherine Cuello: Yeah, I’m the same. But at the beginning of my journey I felt a little guilty having cooked, or steamed, veggies. I won’t have it at restaurants but I’ll make it myself. Like, I’ll literally sauté it for two seconds in water.
Caryn Hartglass: Why do you feel guilty?
Catherine Cuello: I don’t know, it’s psychological, I know.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, and you know you bring up a good point. I like to say this from time to time and I don’t think I’ve said it in a while, but I’ve said it a lot today, not on the show. So I guess it’s time to recycle this information. When we’re eating, whatever we’re eating, if it’s healthy food or if it’s not healthy food, when you’re eating it you’ve got to enjoy it and tell your body, “Take the good stuff and leave the rest behind.” You don’t want to eat ever with guilt, saying, “I shouldn’t be eating this.” Because your 50 or hundred trillion cells get that message and they respond to the environment they perceive. They respond to the voices in your head, and they hear loud and clear. So be careful what you’re telling yourself! Send yourself some love and leave the guilt for later, not when you’re eating.
Catherine Cuello: Thank you, I will definitely apply that. I need to.
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s not just for you, Catherine. That’s for everybody. Okay, so did you make this app yourself?
Catherine Cuello: I designed it and I created the idea and the layout is all my doing. But I have a coder who’s also Dominican and is based in the Dominican Republic. He brought it to life. I couldn’t do it without him.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I’m working on a little app for Responsible Eating and Living and I haven’t put much time into it but it’s hard to do everything.
Catherine Cuello: Oh, definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: I try.
Catherine Cuello: Yes. So it’s me and my coder, I have two designers, and then I have my high school best friend. She’s like my sister and she helps me with all the marketing and social stuff. It takes a lot of your time, so it’s really important for me to have that support.
Caryn Hartglass: Well California gives the impression to a lot of people as being really healthy. I go to northern California reasonably frequently, and I always look for green juice. It’s getting a little easier, but it is not easy to find green juice unless you find somebody with a juicer and you can make it yourself. It’s hard! Some of the Whole Foods are starting to add green juice to their menus that they offer in the stores, but it’s nothing like here in New York City, and it’s sometimes hard to find a juice bar.
Catherine Cuello: That was my experience with Miami, but through Instagram, which I consider my feel-good community, I love Instagram, and for anyone who’s listening we’re Greenhoppingapp on Instagram…but through there, there’s a lot of…the problem is that it’s not all dense like in Manhattan or even Brooklyn. So they’re there, but you really need to know where you’re going. You can’t just walk around and find a green juice store. Same as in Miami. But they’re popping up, and the database that we’re working on is gathering all of this information and putting it on the app so that hopefully by the spring or summer we have L.A. on the map, and Venice Beach, and Miami, Boston, Dallas is also coming up on the map, Austin, and Chicago.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, all those blue places.
Catherine Cuello: Right, exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: What was it like working on the Obama campaign?
Catherine Cuello: Oh, I loved it. It was a great experience, it was a great team. I also met my partner, my soul mate, on the campaign. And then we moved back to New York together.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Now let’s talk a little bit about the Dominican Republic. What’s it like there?
Catherine Cuello: It’s paradise, it’s gorgeous. If you live on the beach, you don’t have to deal with all the social-economical-political problems. It’s the best, it’s paradise. It’s perfect.
Caryn Hartglass: Do people know it’s paradise that live there?
Catherine Cuello: I think so, honestly, because Dominicans, they don’t want to leave. I mean, my boyfriend for example, he’s always like, “Oh, people in Latin America, they don’t want a better life.” And it’s like, well you know what, honestly, to live on a beach in the Caribbean, why would they want to go anyway? They may not have luxurious cars but they have the sunshine, they have food, they have everything. They have big families, they have gatherings, that’s it.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s what life is about, and we forget. Are there any green juice bars in the Dominican Republic?
Catherine Cuello: There’s like two.
Caryn Hartglass: And what about green food? I know when I go to Costa Rica it’s kind of hard to find green. They do grow some spinach and it’s really nasty there.
Catherine Cuello: Well in the Dominican Republic our crops are good, so we grow all kinds of peppers, we grow broccoli, and spinach, and arugula, all these things that I never knew. Now I’ve discovered my country through different lenses, because now I’m looking for all of this. We do have a problem with organic, they do use a lot of pesticides to the extent that the E.U. won’t take our produce in, but the same is in Costa Rica. People don’t really eat greens, they don’t have their fruit. So another mission that I’m kind of working towards is importing those fruit bulbs, like the guayaba or the guanabana which is an anti-cancer agent as well, but very hard to find here. The sapote…
Caryn Hartglass: I love that.
Catherine Cuello: Yeah, it’s super good. So I’d love to start importing these because they go bad in our countries because nobody wants to eat them.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay that’s the saddest thing. Now I have not been to the Dominican Republic but I’ve been to Costa Rica many times and the first time I was there I was so excited because all of these beautiful foods were literally dropping from the trees.
Catherine Cuello: It’s crazy.
Caryn Hartglass: It was heavenly. And then I realized, people aren’t even eating these foods! So when mangos are in season and they’re all over the place.
Catherine Cuello: And then you pay five dollars here if you get it at Whole Foods!
Caryn Hartglass: I mean, please! I would just want to bathe in them, there are so many of them! And oh, the avocados and the mamachinos. I don’t know what you call them, the rasputins. do you know them? They look like lychee nuts only they’ve got like, little tentacles coming out of there.
Catherine Cuello: Really? No, we don’t have those.
Caryn Hartglass: You have to peel them and there’s a white fruit inside.
Catherine Cuello: Oh, yeah, limoncillo, we call it, I think.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know, but there’s just so many and they’re so good and when people don’t even realize. Do you realize all the good things you have in your life?
Catherine Cuello: I know, I know. Well I do now, but back in the day before my health scare, I had an awful diet. I think that out of seven days I would have greens maybe one.
Caryn Hartglass: Now you went through this health scare. How is it that you got so smart? What about your family when you decided to make the choices that you did?
Catherine Cuello: Well, to be honest, from the beginning, when I saw what the situation was like, their options for me just didn’t feel right because the side-effects and the long-term issues were just too many. Technically, my ovary had never been contaminated. It was all in the cyst. The cyst was benign on the outside but it was malignant on the inside. So I removed 27 lymph nodes as well and all of them came back clean. For me it just didn’t make sense. My mom never pushed me to do this and she was also a little hesitant. So that gave me a little leeway to be like, “Let me start reading and Googling and see what I find.” And that was hard. At the beginning it was hard. I only found Kris Carr and this website called chrisbeatcancer. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, he’s in Minnesota or something.
Caryn Hartglass: It is hard and that’s one of the reasons I founded my nonprofit, Responsible Eating And Living, and I wish there was a way to get the information out to people who are looking for it. I do the best I can but it’s not easy.
Catherine Cuello: Yeah. So my family, at the beginning, my dad’s side of the family was a little more reluctant because they live in the Caribbean so it’s a different mentality. But once they started reading…I mean, it’s my choice, it’s my body…but at the end of the day, my grandfather, who’s like 76, out of moral support he became a raw vegan as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow!
Catherine Cuello: He is better than ever. He’s been fighting Diabetes 2 for all his life and had a heart attack 15 years ago, and now all of his issues that he had controlled with medication, they’ve now disappeared.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow. He eats only raw food?
Catherine Cuello: Only raw food. He does eat brown bread and brown rice.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so primarily raw foods but some simple foods as well.
Catherine Cuello: Yeah. He’ll eat no meat and no sugars whatsoever, no dairy either.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, bad.
Catherine Cuello: They do eat a lot of tubérculos, which are like plantains or cassava.
Caryn Hartglass: Root vegetables.
Catherine Cuello: Yeah, root vegetables. And some bodies, like I can do plantains without an issue. But I have it maybe three times a year.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, that’s good. And don’t feel guilty when you’re eating them. They love you! Okay, so you’re going to hit all the big cities and get it in your app. What happens when I’m going to some tiny little town, some clueless place?
Catherine Cuello: Well hopefully online we can have like, an ask-a-question and somebody magically will respond with an answer. But, oh I forgot to say, our next step of the app is also to allow customers to just buy their juice or their food on the app and then you can either go pick it up or you can have it delivered.
Caryn Hartglass: Too convenient! This is an app, it’s on the iPhone, you said you’re working on getting it on the Android…what about all the people, and there still are people, in this world who don’t have smartphones? Is there something that they can do? Is the information on a website?
Catherine Cuello: Yeah, we’re working on having all of the information that we have on the app, on the website so you can browse what’s in this particular city. Hopefully that’s coming up.
Caryn Hartglass: Do you plan on going global?
Catherine Cuello: We’ve started with Brazil because it was a coincidence, but we might be launching, maybe at the end of the year, Sao Paulo or Rio Dijaneiro. And then at some point, because it’s starting in the UK, in London you do have some juice bars. The Scandinavian countries are all for it, and that I found out through Instagram as well.
Caryn Hartglass: I was in Argentina a few years ago and I found a juice bar.
Catherine Cuello: Yeah, that’s great. Well in Miami there’s a raw place that’s owned by Argentinians so they seem to be following.
Caryn Hartglass: This person that you met through the Obama campaign, do you share the same diet?
Catherine Cuello: No, well, he’s Cuban originally, so imagine what…
Caryn Hartglass: Beans and rice.
Catherine Cuello: Well yeah…dealing with his family in the beginning was very hard. His grandmother could not understand why I didn’t want pork. He eats a lot of vegetables and he works out a lot but he does have meat and dairy.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well I’m hoping the best for you two and hoping he learns a lot more from you because he’s only going to benefit from it, right?
Catherine Cuello: Yeah, exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, hey, thank you for coming into the studio and joining me.
Catherine Cuello: Thank you for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m going to get that app on my phone very quickly because I always have to know where to get green juice when I’m not at home. But I do believe in juicing at home, and loving cleaning it. That’s my gift to me. When I make juice, it’s not like, “Oh, I’ve got to clean this machine.” You’ve got to love it because it’s good for you.
Catherine Cuello: That’s why I was always a little hesitant about the Vitamix but I got one and it’s the best thing ever. You can juice, but you can do a lot of other things.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, you can get a lot of greens.
Catherine Cuello: And it’s easy. Well, thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: And you look great, I’m glad you’re well.
Catherine Cuello: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank green leafy vegetables! Woo hoo! Okay, I’m Caryn Hartglass and we’ve come to the end of the program It’s All About Food! Visit responsibleeatingandliving.com and please check out my Kickstarter, The Lone Vegan. And have a delicious week!
Transcribed by Emily Roberts, 3/30/2014