On this weeks radio show and podcast, The Zen Leader: Nourishing Your Body, my guests are Karen Odierna and Keith Campbell, CROP, a local chain of organic juice bars. Karen and Keith share their own stories of sugar addiction and low energy and how juicing provided an incredible boost to their life by sky rocketing their health.
Intro:Welcome to The Zen Leaderwith Lara Jaye. Whether you’re a leader at home or in the boardroom, Lara provides the tools to help you get unstuck in different areas of your life. Now here’s your host, Lara Jaye.
Lara Jaye:Good morning. I’m Lara Jaye. Thank you for joining me here on The Zen Leader. Our topic today is a complicated, yet simple, sometimes controversial, always interesting, and that’s nourishing your body. I wrote extensively about this in my book More Than Enough. In the studio with me are two amazing people who are focused on nourishing the whole Gulf Coast area. With me is Karen Odierna, founder of CROP, a local chain of organic juice bars and Keith Campbell. Welcome.
Karen Odierna:Thank you.
Keith Campbell:Thank you very much, Lara.
Lara:Great! I’m so excited to have you here joining me talking about nourishing our bodies with juice. So, let’s talk about this. First of all, why should we juice?
Karen:Juicing, essentially, is the most nutrient-dense food you can put into your body. We have people come into the store. We either have people that juice or blend, maybe a little bit of both. But the explanation of what goes into especially a cold-pressed juice and the nutrient density involved is you have to use so much produce to get a pretty small amount of liquid in the end, and all those nutrients are so easily assimilated by your body when you consume juice because the fiber has been removed. So, nutrient density is really where we play and that’s why we opened the store is really for the nutrient density of cold-pressed juice.
Lara:Really, so it just pours… talk about nourishing our body. It pours in the nutrition.
Karen:It really does.
Lara:And our bodies can absorb it easier.
Karen:The assimilation of juice in the body, because there is not fiber, it is rapidly absorbed and easily taken in. For instance, if you have a digestive issue or there’s something going on within your body where you’re having a hard time digesting, juice is one of the easiest ways to nourish and supplement what else you may be doing in your life.
Lara:So the fiber, you mentioned that. That’s interesting because when we blend in a Vitamix or a blender, we’re throwing in the whole apple, everything, right?
Lara:So juicing extracts? Is that what happens?
Karen:Correct. All the fiber is removed in juicing, so that’s a very controversial topic as well because people will say, “Well, I’m throwing away all the good stuff.” I think it depends on who you’re talking to and I always say, “Listen, we need it all.” If you’re blending, if you’re juicing, whatever your method is to consume fruits and veggies, get them in. We don’t care how you do it. We offer both at the store.
But, yes. Fiber plays a big role in our life, but if you’re really looking for the nutrient density, juicing is a great way to get it and you can drink six juices in a day. You couldn’t drink six smoothies in a day. The fiber also is hard to take in and is very heavy and is bulky, but like you said, we need fiber for lots of things in our life, in our body. But juicing, to me, I get the best benefit in the way that I feel when I juice. We have a saying called, “Jacked on Juice” and I mean really, I mean it makes me… I am zipped up and that’s really why we started the company, which we can get into in a little bit, because I saw the effect it had on Keith when I first gave him a cold-pressed juice.
We had been Vitamixing and blending for the whole year prior to even thinking about opening CROP because that fiber does slow down that absorption, which if you’re diabetic or if you have other conditions, I understand. Like I said, fiber may be a really important thing for you, but we need it all. We just are thrilled when anybody comes into the store saying that they consume a plant-based diet or they bring that into their lifestyle because that’s a big part of it.
Lara:Go ahead, Keith. Go ahead.
Keith Campbell:I was just going to say the fact of the matter is the amount of produce that it takes to make one 12-ounce cold-pressed juice, it’s much more than someone would consume or could consume really in one sitting.
Lara:Yeah, so I want to know. When I come in and I buy one of your juices, how many ounces is that?
Keith:It’s 12 ounces.
Lara:12 ounces. So how many greens am I getting? What am I getting? I know they’re all a little different, but what’s a typical…?
Keith:Sure, I’ll let Karen speak to that. But I’ll just tell you that what we are known for is the nutrient-dense leafy greens, and Karen will touch upon this. But a lot of different juice companies or juice you buy in stores, they claim to have a kale or they have spinach or what have you, but it really comes down to how much of that product is actually in the juice. Of course, we’re all organic, as you know, but Karen, you want to talk about that?
Karen:Sure. So you said what goes into a bottle? Basically one and a half to two pounds of produce basically, on average, in each juice. However, we focus more on leafy greens. The weight of our juices is less if you’re weighing produce before it goes into your juice, but in the end, you’re getting more nutrient density because we hand pour those six cups of leafy greens. Before we started, I was weighing out every little leafy green that was going to go in that juice, and in the end, it was an average of those six cups of leafies that gives us three ounces of that leafy green juice.
That’s what makes us different from any other company is that when someone comes into our store, any green juice in our case, I could say, “Lara, I know you’re getting six cups of leafy greens in this juice outside of every other fruit or vegetable. I know in this juice you’re getting eight cups of leafy greens,” because we go through the painstaking process of juicing our leafy greens separate from everything else. Then we hand pour in every bottle those leafy greens. So, we go down the line, three ounces, three ounces, three ounces.
Typically juice companies do big bulk juicing and they kind of do all their ingredients separately, and they’ll combine them all together, but they put usually a splash of leafy greens and that’s about all you’re getting. Like I said, I love that we can say, “This is exactly what’s in your juice. This is exactly why you’re always going to pay more at CROP because we spend so much time and energy on juicing those leafy greens, and the cost of leafy greens, to get a good yield, is pretty expensive.” It’s not a cheap process, for sure.
Lara:I had no idea that you go to that painstaking…
Lara:That’s a lot of work. That’s a lot of work.
Karen:It really is.
Lara:And that makes sense. So what is the… what are we supposed to have? What? Four to six…
Karen:Five a day.
Lara:Five a day.
Karen:Yeah, or more.
Lara:So if one of them, one bottle has six, already we’re ahead. We’re ahead of the game.
Keith:Well, let me comment on that. The studies have shown that less than one out of seven people actually get that on a daily basis. Less than one out of seven. So, we have a saying in our store. Listen, the juice in this line, the three and four-ounce leafy greens. You’re getting more than that in one bottle. What happens is we have a lot of customers, as a matter of fact, that will come in. They’ll come in, buy one juice, one shot everyday.
Lara:Wow! One juice, one shot everyday. Then they’re covered and they can pour the nutrition in. That’s what happens. Keith, I want to start with you and the benefit you had mentioned, Karen, the increased energy of juicing. What happened to you, Keith?
Keith:About four years ago, I was actually…
Lara:We all have stories. I want to hear Keith’s.
Keith:We all have stories. Yes. I’ve been in the real estate investment business for a long time, since the early 90s. One day I came home from a long day and Karen had actually decided to help a friend of hers through breast cancer, so she bought a Norwalk cold-press juicer to do that and developed some green juices, and I got home after a long day and she says to me, “Listen, why don’t you try one of these juices?” I’m like, “Leave me alone. It’s a green juice. What are you talking about?”
Keith:It was about four years ago. I’ll never forget it.
Keith:Because my body had been so nutritionally deprived as a general rule, it hadn’t been getting these nutrients.
Lara:So you’re working a lot. You’re stressed.
Lara:Are you doing drive-thrus?
Karen:Being fueled by caffeine.
Keith:Fueled by caffeine, long drives. But, yeah. I mean eating out constantly. I mean I lived in the New York City area for over 10 years.
Keith:I don’t think I cooked once. You can imagine what [LAUGHTER] has been through my body.
Keith:But I came home that day after a 12-, 13-hour workday and I had one of Karen’s green juices and my body just soaked it up. At that point forward, it was…
Lara:Immediately you felt amazing.
Karen:And he was zipping around the house saying, “I need to take the trash out. What do I need to do? I need to do something. I have so much energy. What did you just give me?”
Keith:It was really crazy.
Karen Odierna:I’m like, “Wow!” I said, “You are the representative of everyone else that feels the same way after a 12…” Listen, 12-, 13-hour day is a long day to work, but he came in that day absolutely wiped out. It was a perfect day to do that little test. I’m like, “We need to do something with this,” and within six months, we were building out our first store.
Lara:That is amazing.
Lara:Oh, my gosh. So increased energy. What about focus? Did that help? What else did it do for you?
Keith:Well, when you’re working, and as I do now — and I have been for many years — but you work 70, 80 hours a week. If you have any kind of too heavy of a lunch, you get bogged down in the afternoon. Too heavy of a breakfast, you’ll get bogged down in the morning. So, my diet really consists of very light in the morning. I typically have two, three, four juices. Obviously, occupational advantage. That keeps me going.
Keith:It keeps me going and I don’t get bogged down. I don’t get heavy and it allows me to work those long-hour days. Because without it, I don’t think I could.
Lara:So for you guys, you stay in this. Juicing everyday, you can stay in this amazing energy, focused, better digestion. You don’t have to worry about losing weight. You’re always detoxing. You’re always on.
Keith:Well, some of us are better than others, but…
Keith:Which, quite frankly, and Karen will talk about this, but really just trying to make it a lifestyle is one of our sayings on our shirts. Make it a lifestyle, not a diet. In other words, not everybody is going to be this raw, organic vegan, put 100% real positive things in their body all the time, and let’s be practical. We try to incorporate our juices into people’s life, into their daily lives. Therefore, when they do go off the rail, so to speak, and they have their pizza, they do whatever they’re going to do, they know they can get back on track with this. I think that’s a practical approach.
Lara:What about how does it help your skin, hair, nails, immune system? Let’s talk about that.
Keith:Well, I think my skin looks great. [LAUGHTER]
Lara:Your skin looks great. Your skin looks great, Keith. [LAUGHTER]
Karen:It’s just what we were talking about earlier about the easily assimilated nutrients that’s giving your body what it needs, and therefore the glowing skin, the whites of your eyes. I mean usually when people are doing juice cleanses, which we can talk about at some point, which listen, we’re all about supporting a healthy lifestyle like Keith said, but I am more about making it a lifestyle. Uusually when people come into the store, we talk about cleanses. People like to cleanse for various reasons. [00:10:01]But typically people will cleanse for three days only to want to lose 10 pounds to fit into a dress, and that’s not our way of… it’s not a part of what we believe in, but it’s okay. It’s okay. Either way they’re getting a great amount of, like I said, nourishment and an infusion of goodness into your body, which will make you glow. When people come in and are doing a lot of juice, they certainly are radiant.
Karen:Yes, yeah. Radiant.
Lara:Oh, that’s beautiful. When we come back from the break, I want to talk more about decreasing the appetite and the sugar, what it does for that. There’s just so much to it. Is it really healthier? Is juicing healthier than eating fruits and veggies or is it just different?
Karen:It is different to me because of all of the nutrients that you get that have been squeezed into that bottle, and we can talk about organic versus conventional also, because organic juicing does make a difference, too. I mean outside of pesticides and everything else, if I want to eat the cleanest and consume the cleanest veggies and juices…
Lara:We need to stick with organic.
Karen:Yes, correct. Correct.
Lara:Definitely. Okay, super. Thank you so much. Well, we are going to take a quick break right now and we will be right back with The Zen Leader.
Lara:Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderhere on WSRQ. You can find me on wsrqradio.comor larajaye.com, L-A-R-A-J-A-Y-E. My guests here today — we’re talking about nourishing your body — are Karen Odierna and Keith Campbell from CROP, a local chain of organic juice bars. Keith, where can we find you guys at? Do you have a website?
Keith:We do. It’s cropjuicesrq.comis the website. It’s constantly going through revamping, so whenever you look, it’s not necessarily all of the products that we have. We have three stores currently in Sarasota. One is on Gulf Gate Drive. That’s the south store. One is downtown in the Ellis Building, which is at Orange and Main, and we’re in the lobby there, the Wells Fargo Advisors Building I call it. Then we have one out near UTC, two doors down from JDub’s next to Anna’s Deli, so it’s in a strip right there on the border of Bradenton and Sarasota.
Lara:Awesome! Any plans to keep expanding? What you thinking?
Keith:Well, I can’t talk about that in front of Karen.
Keith:We believe that — if I could just touch upon this — the juice is critically important, but we also really want to make sure someone gets the customer experience.
Keith:The phenomenal customer experience. Because I think that that is a dying art, has been in this country for a long, long time, and we’ve noticed certainly since we started that if you give the customer, you treat them more like clients, you truly look after their best interest, they’re going to come back and they’re going to refer, and it’s the best form of advertising we could have. We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve been very well embraced by Sarasota and we feel very…
Lara:Honestly, I had that customer experience when I walked in.
Keith:Why thank you.
Lara:You both were there. Karen, you were talking with another customer, and Keith, you were working and helping me. I was blown away by just the energy, all that went into everything, and I was just in awe and thrilled to have you on my show today.
Keith:We’re thrilled to be here.
Lara:Thank you. Karen, I want to dive into your story because I think it’s really going to resonate with the listeners, and we have a lot that we can [LAUGHTER] go on there. Just tell me where you want to start.
Karen:Well, it depends how much time we have.
Karen:Because I could talk about this for a while.
Karen:The reason we started CROP was multifaceted, and one of them was the effect that I saw the juice had on Keith. But me, I’ve juiced my whole life for the last 20 years on and off. I’ve juiced. I’ve blended. I’ve done it all. When my good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, she introduced me to cold-press juicing and I said, “What? Cold-press juicing. What is this about?” I still remember to this day the few of my good friends and family that I said, “I’m going to go out and buy this $2,500 juicer because I need to know if this is as good as everybody says it is.” So, I get this juicer.
Lara:You spent $2,500 on a juicer? [LAUGHTER]
Karen:Yes, I did and it was well worth it.
Karen:I will tell you that now our juicers are well beyond that cost.
Karen:But this juicer is near and dear to my heart for how it does juice, and the product that it makes. So, my friend introduced me to the cold-press juices. I’m not really familiar with this. I did more research, bought the juicer. Keith had the effect that I saw that it had on him with the increased energy, but I have been a sugar addict my whole life, and if anybody knows me — and we even have it on our website — truly my dream job was to work in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory with all of his Oompa-Loompas running around.
I mean, I’m still fascinated by sweets. Sweets just… from the time I was eating Pixy Stix and Whoppers in my bedroom when I was in fifth grade, my mom didn’t know, and I’m putting down the sugar and I’d get all moody and irritable. Like oh, my gosh! I was just driven off pure, refined sugars when I was younger. I was. Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year for that reason.
Karen:I now have come a long way from…
Lara:Do you have a Reese’s Cup juice yet? [LAUGHTER]
Karen:You know what? No, can’t go there.
Lara:Can’t go there.
Karen:Listen, I did finally create a mint chip smoothie — which I can honestly tell you I will never eat mint chocolate chip ice cream ever again — and everybody says the same thing when they have it.
Lara:Great, I’ll have to try that.
Karen:Yes. Oh, it’s absolutely amazing. My sugar cravings also were significantly decreased when I consumed leafy green juice. This is when we were playing around with recipes, but I found that the leafy greens really gave me the biggest bang for my buck in terms of how I felt. It gave me energy, but then I didn’t want my Twix bar. I didn’t want my peppermint patty because my nutritional needs were being met, so I wasn’t on that sugar bandwagon as much.
Once again, everyone I know is the biggest sugar addict. Everybody is like, “Oh, my gosh! I eat sweets. I have to have my cookie. I want this. I want that.” Keith always tells me it’s a female thing, and it may be, but I’ll tell you there’s a certain time and certain place that all females will just strangle someone if they see chocolate.
Lara:Yeah, I was going to say, “Look out.” [LAUGHTER] We need chocolate.
Karen:Yeah, it’s the way it is. That helped me significantly, and then it’s also made me now choose better options when it comes to sweets. But in terms of opening the company, it really was my sugar cravings being decreased by green juice, but also my fitness background. I’ve been teaching fitness classes in town for 25 years. I’ve been teaching at the YMCA. I was teaching kickboxing. I also was an oncology nurse, so I was also seeing a lot of patients die and helping a lot of patients die, and it was really sad. I was in my 20s and I look back. I’m like, “Wow, that was a really heavy time in my life.” It was all these different things that brought this to culmination to say, “Wow! I mean our food is not doing us any good.”
Lara:Here you are a fitness instructor, oncology nurse, and you’re still having sugar cravings.
Lara:You know how to eat healthy. You know what to do.
Karen:Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. It’s amazing how it took me to really discover the green juice or organic leafy green juice to subside those cravings, but say, “I’m not the only one out here that’s having these types of issues. We need to do something. We need to share this. We need to share what we’ve created,” because there was nothing in town like this. In fact, what’s really inspiring to me and keeps me going everyday is when people come in from all over the United States and say, “Listen, we have juice bars in every corner, but we have nothing like CROP where we live.”
It’s because a little bit of what we described earlier about our process and what we put into our product. It is a lot of time, labor, and love that goes into it. People taste that in the product. They definitely do. But it’s really, like I said, multifaceted how I got here and it’s been extremely rewarding. A lot of hard work. Hardest thing I’ve ever done, but extremely rewarding, for sure.
Lara:Would you say you had a health crisis that led you to this? Or you just had a wakeup call?
Karen:I had a wakeup call. It was looking around and seeing where I’ve been, who I’ve taken care of and saying… and since that time, I mean this was 14, 15 years ago that I’ve been out of oncology nursing to say, “This is just a continuous deterioration of where our food is going and what they are giving us to eat, and the quality of our foods.” Keith and I always say, back when our grandparents were kids, everything was organic. I mean, you didn’t have to say, “This is organic. This is conventional. This is GMO, non-GMO.” I mean it’s crazy.
Lara:Right. All the labels now.
Lara:And it’s overwhelming for people.
Lara:They’re like, “Gluten, not gluten? Really?”
Lara:What do we eat? I know when we go to foreign countries, I have a gluten sensitivity here. But in foreign countries, I don’t to the wheat.
Lara:Yeah. So, it’s interesting.
Karen:Exactly. We were talking about how the GMOs and all these other things are banned overseas, but we have them in America.
Lara:But we have them in America. So what is the food crisis here would you say?
Karen:I would say it’s all the, like Keith and I always talk about, with the pesticides and the genetically modified organisms of what they’re doing to our foods to alter, to expedite production, of these foods to ship out, which they say is a good thing because we’re helping these countries. But if you’re inventing food that you’re altering the process, there’s something definitely not right; the over-processing of the foods as well. That’s why I do believe there are more gluten sensitivities and this over-processing of our foods is not… our systems don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to handle it. Keith can probably speak to this a little bit more than I can, too, because he’s done a lot more research on that end of it.
Keith:Well, I have a saying when people come in. I think that, quite frankly, our food has been in bad shape for quite a few years, for decades, and we’ve been so indoctrinated as a society that this is what you’re supposed to eat. Over time, you have these routines, these things you constantly, regularly want to eat, and how do you get past it? What we’ve discovered, of course, is if someone has the discipline to, let’s say, go on a regimen for 30 days, they will get past all of these things. [00:20:00]Getting over the hump, so to speak. Then it becomes much, much easier.
But a lot of people just continue to go on this diet, their chosen method of eating. I’d say — just to go take a left turn here — the most gratifying part about owning CROP is when you’re talking with people that are coming in, trying to change their lifestyle, trying to change their body and so forth, and you hear, “I’ve lost 70 pounds by going raw, organic, vegan. My thyroid condition is under control. My child no longer has the ADHD because I’m feeding them healthy organics every morning.” I mean, the stories after stories and stories.
Lara:The sugar cravings are gone. Just over and over. So that’s what you’re hearing from customers.
Lara:All the time.
Lara:These are people who are coming in either daily or on a weekly basis, getting juice, and are committed too. They’re nourishing their body.
Lara:And taking care of themselves.
Karen:Yeah. They had that wakeup call somewhere where they had the awareness, and I do believe at some point either we’ll have the wakeup call to be aware to what’s going on around us. A lot of these people have already changed their life and their world. Now they’re trying to find someone to help them stay on that path, because as we talked about, juicing is not easy. It’s not a cheap process either, but it’s a lot of time that goes into it. So, it’s great that even if we have regular juicers at home, they come to us to supplement like, “You know. I just didn’t feel like juicing today and I know you guys do it best, so I’m here for my weekly juice.”
Lara:They’re just going to pop in for one. Right.
Karen:Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Lara:Absolutely. Instead of driving through a McDonald’s, they can stop at CROP and pick up something. Now with the three locations, it’s very easy to do.
Keith:Well, we’ve also realized in the juice business… and like I said, I’ve had businesses for 30-some-odd years. This has been one of the most gratifying, if not the most gratifying. But we’ve noticed in the juice industry — since the four or five years that we’ve been involved to some degree — it’s almost like there’s a race to the bottom now for quality. It’s incredible how competitive the business can be. There are major juice companies with $3.99, 16 ounces at Sam’s Club. I mean, you have to look at that and say, “What could possibly be in that juice?”
I’m sorry. We’re in glass. We’ll never be in plastic. We don’t do what’s known as HPP, which is what we believe is an artificial method of actually preserving the juice, which we don’t subscribe to. We’ve taken the exact opposite approach. What we’ve been, again, fortunate to be receiving the support of Sarasota is we want to make the best product, and it’s never going to be the cheapest. It’s probably going to be the most expensive and there’s a reason for that. But in doing so, we really do believe — and I can tell you because we’ve talked to thousands and thousands of people — people are changing their lives. There are a lot of people who come in, regulars, daily, certainly weekly that come in and this is what they need, and they see the results. To hear these stories is really impressive because cancer can’t live in alkaline body, for instance, and the more alkaline you put in your body, the better off you’re going to be. Just like I said, I tell Karen all the time. I kind of look at CROP… and again, this wasn’t by design, but it’s what we’re hearing is that we’ve kind of turned into a form of people’s healthcare. I don’t think you can be more satisfied with an occupation than we are.
Lara:I like that. We’re going to take a break right now and we’ll be right back on The Zen Leader.
Lara:I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leader. Welcome back. You can find me here on wsrqradio.comor larajaye.com. With me are guests from CROP organic juicing, Karen and Keith. CROP, what does it stand for?
Karen:Yes, that took me a while to come up with, but it does stand for something. Cold-pressed Raw Organic Produce.
Lara:All right, so what’s cold-pressed? You touched on it briefly.
Karen:Typical at-home juicers or if you go into a typical grocery store and they make you a juice on-demand, they’re using centrifugal juicers. Centrifugals are a higher speed, higher centrifugal. I mean, it’s spinning. It’s loud. It’s noisy and it basically provides you a juice on-demand, but you do have to drink that juice typically within 10 to 20 minutes due to the breakdown of the cell walls of the fruits and vegetables. It’s a violent process. That’s how I think about it. I always ask people, “What kind of juicer do you have?” Well, I mean does it go, “Vmm, vmm, vmm?” I mean, I try to describe the sound because it’s a really loud… it just sounds just very…
Keith:Heat and energy.
Karen:Yeah, heat and energy driven into the process. That heat and air that is driven into that process also breaks down the nutrients much faster; you do have to consume it right away. So, the cold-pressed method of juicing — and our method, especially — we use a two-step method of hydraulic cold-pressed juicing, which means we have to very gently break down all the fruits and veggies into a veggie pulp, right? Pulp slurry is what it’s called. Then using tons and tons of hydraulic pressure, every last bit of juice is squeezed out of that pulp, but it’s a very gentle process. It is called cold-pressed because there is not a lot of heat driven into that process. With that, the nutrients remain intact and nutritionally sound for four to five days. We believe even longer. But we do date aggressively with our juices because it’s a raw juice. We want people to enjoy and consume that juice. Because when a juice is made, like I said, we want you to consume it, right?
Also packaging in glass, the shelf life, like I said, four to five days. Sometimes people say seven to 10 days for a cold-pressed juice now. But we do date our juices four to five days, but you do get that longer extension of the nutrients because of the process.
Lara:So cold-pressed, raw, and then organic, which we’re seeing everything seems to be labeled organic. [LAUGHTER] How does it work for you guys? Do you have trouble finding real organic?
Karen:We have our days where we have challenges, but if we cannot find something that is organic, we won’t make it. We would rather pull that juice than say, “Hey, we’ve replaced it with a conventional produce.” We’re just not going to do that because everything we do and our customers have come to know us as a company that is always going to be organic 100% of the time.
Karen:Not organic when available. Certified organic. A lot of times local farmers are great to support and use, and we would love to support local farmers, but we are about certified organic first. If there’s a local farm that also is certified organic, we will tap into them.
Keith:If I could touch upon that, Lara. We do believe the future is going to be one where it’s getting to know the farmer because there’s a lot of great local farms. They don’t make it cheap to get the certification, and quite frankly, a lot of them use organic practices. I mean farmers are generally good people that want to make the best product, and they want to make the healthiest product. I think that’s probably ultimately where it will go, but the gold standard currently is, for the foreseeable future, I think, this is “certified organic.” But at the end of the day, to Karen’s point, we believe that the trust that our customers, our clients, have put in us is such that we can’t violate that certified organic. We’re not going to violate that.
Lara:Then the last word and it is produce. You mentioned you use a lot of leafy greens.
Lara:Obviously, all of it’s organic. What would be an example of leafy greens? Is that the kale? Things that are green.
Karen:Kale, chard, romaine, arugula.
Lara:So it’s a mixture of all of those.
Karen:Yes. Depending on the juice and the recipe, there’s a variety of the leafy greens in our more leafy green-dense juices that is. We’ve even started using microgreens because microgreens are the latest, greatest, hottest thing, and they should be. Because for as small and tiny as microgreens are, they’re exponentially more nutrient dense than their mature counterparts to the point where they’ve been doing… cancer patients are consuming broccoli microgreens and having great effects in terms of their breast cancer.
Lara:Now what’s a microgreen?
Karen:The microgreen is just the tiny little… I don’t want to call it a sprout, but it’s a little green that buds up to a few inches long. They get clipped and we juice those. Or a lot of times you go out to eat at a restaurant, they’ll put a little garnish on top; those are microgreens. You just do a pinch or two a day and they say that that’s really all you need when it comes to microgreens because they are up to 40 times more nutrient-dense than their mature counterparts.
A small little two-inch little green is more nutrient dense than their mature broccoli, and I know a lot of people would rather eat a few pinchfuls of microgreens versus sitting down and eating a bowlful of broccoli.
Lara:Absolutely. Keith, right before break you said juicing is a form of healthcare. I love that. I love that comment.
Keith:Well, we kind of look at it that way just simply because people need food to live. They’re going to consume food on a daily basis. Why not consume the right types of food? Like I said, just to reiterate from what I was saying before, I think people have to get past that hump of saying, “Well, I don’t like green or I don’t like this or that.”
So what happens if people come into our store, as you know Lara, come in and we sample. We get them to taste and we believe… and I’ll say this that half the population out there probably wouldn’t consume the juice if it doesn’t taste good or they consume a lot less of it. So we go to great lengths — Karen does — to make sure that the formulas, the recipes are right on, spot on as far as taste is concerned.
But what we noticed inside our stores is people gravitate maybe initially towards the fruitier ones. We have some that are all fruit, for instance. But ultimately in time, their body starts to adjust. Their taste buds start to adjust to having some greens, so you get introduced to maybe a one- or two-ounce leafy green. Then ultimately what happens is they go full leafy greens, and that’s where all the nutrients are. So, yeah. We believe that that road that people take we kind of consider a form of healthcare.
Lara:I like that. Healthcare is doctors. I mean, we [LAUGHTER]…
Keith:Yes, yes. [00:30:00]
Lara:Let’s talk about that. [LAUGHTER]
Keith:Yeah, I’m actually a doctor’s son. My father was a radiologist. But for many, many years, we ate okay, but we didn’t eat healthy like we do now. Quite frankly, western medicine, I think, is slowly starting to come around and starting to turn, and starting to see how much effect nutrition really does have on a patient’s health. People are constantly coming into our store that have been diagnosed with X or recently diagnosed with X. We had one lady that came in literally from the doctor to our store just saying, “Listen, I was told to come here because you guys…”
Keith:This was a holistic practitioner. Yeah, we were very impressed with them. We were grateful. So, we get these people with varying degrees of health concerns and we believe that we’re at least having a part of their recovery, and that’s the gratifying part.
Lara:Wouldn’t you say for really every single seven billion of us on the planet we all need to eat? We all need proper nutrition to feed our bodies. My listeners want to be at the top of their game.
Lara:To be at the top of their game, we need to eat well, otherwise we’re burning ourselves out at work. We’re not getting… a lot of times we’re rushing, not getting the food and the nutrition we need. Then we don’t have the energy. So for you, Keith specifically, juicing really turned that around for you. But I think that for all of us and the listeners, as a part of our health, it should be part of our healthcare, juicing — in some form, even if it’s only a half a cup a day or something — to make sure we get that nutrition in our bodies. Would you agree on that?
Keith:Well, absolutely. I think I have a saying where if you’re not planning your meals, you’re going to make poorer choices. There’s no question. Who has real time to plan the meals these days? We’re off. A couple is working. They’re both working. They have kids, etc. So juicing is a way of consuming it in a very quick fashion. You know you’re getting great things to go through your body. I think that’s probably the juice’s attraction as well. Someone can come into our storefront, they can spend 30 seconds, grab a juice, they’re out. They down the juice. They’ve gotten their nutrients. Regardless of what else they might do, they’ve taken care of themselves.
Karen:I want to add something to that really quick because you just mentioned that it was a hot button when you mentioned we’re all stressed. We’re all rushing around. We don’t have the time. All of these things lead to inflammation, which lead to disease. That’s the big thing that if there’s anything we’re talking about quick grab-and-go, there’s so much more of a benefit to this that if you really think about what you are doing and what you’re putting into your body with the juice and the anti-inflammatory benefits, with the leafy greens and ginger and turmeric… we do a lot of ginger and turmeric at the store. We also do a lot of leafy greens. Anything that’s going on in our life.
I mean gosh, you can walk outside and you’re bombarded by the oxidative… all these environmental factors. Everything in our life is a stressor that is going to kick up inflammation. I don’t care if you’re a triathlete. I don’t care if you go the gym everyday, because that’s a good thing, but that’s still kicking up inflammation. So, we still have to bring this inflammation down otherwise that is going to manifest itself sometime, somewhere, someday, and that’s where the leafy green juice and the ginger-turmeric, and all these great alkaline-type foods keep us in check.
Lara:Awesome point. Thank you. We’re going to take a break right now, and we’ll be right back with The Zen Leader.
Lara:We’re back. I’m Lara Jaye on The Zen Leaderand you can find us at wsrqradio.comor larajaye.com. My guests here from CROP, C-R-O-P. Keith, what again is the website?
Lara:cropjuicesrq.com. You mentioned the three locations. Do you also deliver? Do you do things like that?
Keith:We do deliver. Each one of our stores can deliver to a surrounding area, so we’ll deliver. We do quite a bit of corporate business as well. So the answer to that question is yes. I mean it depends upon the distance, but we sure do.
Keith:Corporate events and we get asked all the time to do some great events. But, yeah. Depending upon where the location is, for instance, downtown handles the downtown market and Selby Gardens and things like that. But, yes. We’re trying to be everywhere with those stores.
Lara:Nice. During break, we were talking about juicing as it’s not an end-all-be-all, but it’s part of a healthy program. It’s part of eating. You still need some protein. You can live on just juice probably for a short time. People do it for what? Detox?
Karen:Right, for cleansing and detoxing.
Karen:Usually it’s some type of medical condition is putting someone into the space of a 40-day juice cleanse or whatever that may be. But typically when people come into the store, they’re looking to do a three- to five-day juice cleanse.
Lara:Okay, three- to five-day. But for juicing to be part of a healthy program, are there doctors or groups in town that might incorporate juicing?
Karen:Yes, we actually work with a holistic practitioner in town, and twice a year she does a group cleanse. Dr. Jessica Lipham. She’s fantastic and twice a year she brings people together to do a cleanse properly, so you train… you have your body prepped, ready to go for that cleansing part of the program. People just don’t get done eating that Taco Bell, roll in and say, “I want to do a juice cleanse for three days.” It’s like, “Whoa, wait a second. You’re going to feel terrible.” So we really try to vet people to make sure what are your goals? What are you doing? Let’s make sure you’re successful because we want them to be successful.
We want to see them again just for the fact of what we were talking about earlier, making it a lifestyle. Just eat fruits and veggies. We always say to people, and I told you at the beginning, “We don’t care how you get them. Just get them.” As much as people come to the store and they’ll talk about the consumption of fruits and veggies, I mean we can’t make any type of claims that juicing is going to cure you or it’s going to prevent. But all you have to do is do some research on plant-based diets or what to do to prevent heart disease, or a lot of the cancer fighters are plant-based, cruciferous vegetables. Like I said, it’s kind of… you know.
Lara:Absolutely. I know when I got sick a couple years ago… it was actually only two years ago I was completely bedridden, and I moved from Indiana, and I came to live on Anna Maria Island for a couple three months just to recover and find out what was wrong. I didn’t know what was wrong and it ended up being an autoimmune disease. Juicing was part of my healing at that point, bringing that in as part of healthy eating. I knew a lot about healthy eating, but I had not brought in juicing. It really just supercharged the nutrition for me. Would you say that that would do that, especially for immune system building?
Keith:There’s no question. Like I said, I think a lot of people start with juicing because it is a way of getting nutrition very quickly. Again, regardless, just introduce it into your daily life and your lifestyle.
Karen:We can just speak really quickly all day long about this time of the year. Half the people coming into our store are coming down with some type of crazy flu virus, anything that’s going on, and they can come back a week later and say, “I can’t believe how well that juice worked for me.” The little anti-inflammatory shot that we call our “flu shots,” which is ginger, turmeric, apple, lemon. It’s amazing hands down. Every single day I can tell you at least five to 10 stories of people saying, “That worked. That worked.” It’s like well, yeah. I mean it was fresh ginger and turmeric. They’re two of the most powerful anti-inflammatories around, especially when they’re consumed together, very synergistic in their power. So, it works. Real food, real plant, real organic. We call it medicine.
Lara:Our food is our medicine.
Karen:Food is medicine. Food is medicine.
Lara:People, I don’t think understand that what we put in our mouths makes such the difference as to whether we can focus, how we treat other people. Maybe if you eat a bag of Oreos, you’re probably going to not feel very great and might get a little grouchy.
Lara:Versus downing a juice, which really, I was surprised at how little calories a 12-ounce juice had.
Lara:If you’re looking at that and then the nutrient density of, it is amazing.
Karen:Which is a wonderful thing, and when you were just speaking of how you feel, and speaking of our flu shots, I mean two-thirds of your immunity is based in your gut.
Karen:So when people are out eating poorly — I mean day after day after day — and then they come down with this terrible virus, it’s like think about what’s going on in that gut.
Lara:What did you eat? What are you putting in there?
Karen:What’s in there? Yeah, for sure.
Lara:Right. If it’s all the burgers and stuff, which everything is great in moderation, I feel like, but you have to eat more and more of the higher-energy foods, the fruits, the veggies, all of it.
Karen:Yeah, the high frequency. Absolutely, yeah.
Lara:Absolutely. Talk about the juices in the store. I mean I’m always going through Publix. Why can’t I just pick some up there? They’re a lot cheaper than yours. [LAUGHTER]
Keith:Well, as Karen was mentioning earlier regarding the type of juicing that they do, well, first of all, a lot of the cold-pressed juice companies out there, they’re in 16 ounces. They’re in plastic and they have a fraction of the nutrient density that we do. A lot of the green juices, as a matter of fact, Lara, that you see in a store, are mostly cucumber and celery. The vast majority of it. Now that’s all fine and good, except the cucumber and celery is really mostly water, right? It’s predominantly water.
Lara:So why is that? Price wise? Instead of using the leafy greens.
Keith:It costs one-sixth as much to make.
Keith:Yeah, because it yields all this water and all this juice. You go get a green juice at most stores, pick one, and it’s in a plastic container because to be able to wholesale at a store, it has to be in plastic and subject to this HPP process I was mentioning earlier. It’s a 16-ounce juice. It’s in plastic. It has a fraction of the nutrients. It’s mostly water. Don’t get me wrong.[00:40:00]It’s certainly better than grabbing a burger down the street, but it’s a very different process, and again, we have a three- to five-day shelf life. We don’t necessarily believe in that process, although it is USDA approved. We believe in the three- to five-day cold-pressed process.
Lara:Which is what you do.
Lara:Talk to me about juicing, Karen, as part of a way of self-love, of taking care of yourself.
Karen:Include it often.
Karen:Do it daily, if you can. When people come into the store and that’s the biggest question. They say, “Well, how much juice should I be consuming everyday?” That’s why we really do love to give the customer service that we do because I need to know, Lara, what your needs are and if you have something going on or an autoimmune condition, or if you’re a triathlete and you’re burning it at both ends doing eight hours a day of training.
But as baseline, like we were talking about earlier, five a day is minimum. Optimally five to eight servings of fruits and veggies, great. A lot of times we do hear people say, “But I can’t afford to do this everyday.” Buy a juice and split it into two servings. It’s still going to be more nutrient dense, and you’re getting your servings per day than anything else that you could be consuming. That’s the biggest thing is we all have different needs, and we have a lot of patients that come into the store with diabetes or Sjögren’s or fibromyalgia, even, like I said, a lot of oncology patients. A lot of times they know what they need. I just need to direct them in terms of taste, and like Keith said, we really go the extra mile to make a juice that tastes good. Because I am convinced that if a juice doesn’t taste good, we all know we’re not going to drink it.
For example, we peel our beets and every time someone comes into the store they’re like, “I hate beet juice.” I’m like, “Well, it’s the first juice you’re going to try today. Here you go,” and they usually leave with that juice because we peel that dirty skin off. Beets are earthy, but the taste of our juice you cannot compare to anything else. We just had some of the people from the company in our store that support us with the machines we use, and they were speaking to different processes. I said, “Well, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to do that.” I do it my way.
We created our own method. Like Keith said, nobody does it like us, and it does take a lot of labor, time, and there is a method to our madness. Believe me there are days I’m like, “Wow! What did I create?” because this is insane. We could make this so much easier, but that doesn’t make a good product.
Lara:You want to keep the quality up there.
Karen:We want a premium product and we’re a premium product. I always tell people it’s not a cheap product. It’s not a cheap process, but taking care of yourself is an investment, and especially if you’re going to go all organic or you’re going to drink cold-pressed organic juice. My gosh, drink one a week. I mean just…
Lara:Do what you can.
Karen:Yes, do what you can.
Lara:Do what you can. Do what you can.
Lara:That was one thing I was so surprised about was back to the taste, walking in and tasting some of your different ones. It’s not like you’re eating a big salad. I mean think about how many cups of leafy greens that would be in putting that into your body, and if you just ate that, what it would taste like. But you add, you have, I don’t know what you do, but it’s amazing. [LAUGHTER]
Lara:You usually add a little fruit, so there’s just a hair, maybe a hair of sweetness and they’re all at different levels is from what I noticed.
Lara:Yeah. Of course, I think making it organic makes such a difference. I know that we see the word organic everywhere — we’ve talked a little bit about it — but I just really want our listeners to understand the importance of organic.
Keith:Well, if it’s not organic, there’s so many products that are very toxic that are allowed to be put on our food. That’s just the bottom line. Let’s face it. Eating fruits and vegetables is better than eating certain other types of food everyday that’s completely processed. But too many people treat their bodies like a filter. I mean there’s been many, many studies done. Traces in your urine or it’s something in your body, in your blood test where you have toxicity, toxicity, toxicity. All of a sudden you go all organic, that toxicity gets removed and it gets removed very quickly. I tell people all the time. I don’t think we’re going to cure a lot of these diseases that everybody says, “One day we’ll eradicate,” until we take a very serious look at our food.
Lara:Absolutely. Karen, do you have anything else to add? What is one thing that you really want our listeners to know about CROP?
Karen:Oh, about CROP specifically? We’re not the typical juice company. We’re really not and you need to come in to get the experience and learn what we’re all about, and understand the process behind everything from when that produce comes through the door to the way we bottle. It’s very handcrafted. It’s a lot of labor and love and we love what we do, and we’re just trying to make Sarasota a healthier place. That’s about it. Yeah.
Lara:That’s awesome. Thank you both, Karen and Keith, for joining me this morning.
Karen:Thank you. Thank you for having us.
Keith:You’re welcome. Thank you for having us.
Lara:I really encourage listeners to pop in one of their three stores here in Sarasota. If you’re traveling through town or any time, please stop in and try. Check it out. Thank you so much for joining me this morning on The Zen Leader. Have a great weekend.
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