Carrillo-Bucaram: Creating A Raw Food Future
Does the name
Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram ring a bell? Keep it filed
away in the back of your head, because I'm willing
to bet money a decade from now it'll be in a lot
Who's going to create the change that will rock the
foundation of society and create an abundant raw
food future for our world? It will be people
like my friend Kristina.
One of the things I've always believed is that if
you want to change the earth on a grand scale, you
can't just talk about change philosophically and
embrace those ideas yourself because most people
aren't devoted enough to pursue abstract ideas, even
if they seem intriguing. You can do it yourself, but
you'll be living a very lonely dream.
To get the world moving in a different direction,
you have to have concrete institutions in the
physical world that bridge the gap between where
everyone is now and the better future you envision.
Right now we have have liquor stores and 7-elevens
crammed with isles of ho hos, and it's hard for
people to see a fruit-abundant future.
Yet I and people like Kristina can see it clearly
and work toward it, and that's the only way we're
going to get anywhere.
Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram: Bridging The Gap
I first met Kristina at Health
and Fitness Week 2009, and it didn't take me long to
realize she was something special. Kristina is the
rare type of person I could envision equally in a
corporate board room, running a marathon, or working
as a therapist.
Her drive, competence, and charisma combine to make
her a force to be reckoned with, and she's put her
energy to good use in Houston, creating the
successfull Rawfully Organic Co-Op, which has sold
millions of dollars of locally-grown organic produce
to the people of the city since its inception in
2007 while introducing hundreds of people to the
benefits of raw foods.
Normally the raw
food success stories featured on this site
focus on adopting a raw food diet and overcoming
health problems, but I'm going to glaze over that
with Kristina. You can read why she went raw by
reading her profile.
This interview is going to focus on her innovative
co-op and how it's making a difference in the world.
Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram Interview
Birth: March 11th, 1987
Started eating a raw food diet: July 15,
Occupation(s): Raw Coach, Artist, Personal
Home City: Houston, TX.
Once you went raw, did you see discordance between
the new ideology you were embracing and the world
around you? How did you feel about it?
Carrillo-Bucaram: It wasn’t until I went
raw that I realized that I had been lied to my
entire life. Perhaps it wasn’t that I was actually
lied to, but it was more that I had never heard the
I felt this crazy-weird set of emotions: on one end,
I was so completely exhilarated because I felt like
I had just stumbled upon the best secret that has
ever faced mankind.
On the other end, I was also hurt, upset, and angry
because I realized that my whole life I had been
living a lie. I didn’t have to be living in that
pain or confusion, but I did because I didn’t know
any better. It takes a lot to emotionally recover
from 20 years of life living “SAD.” When you
step out of it, it is truly one of the most eye
opening experiences ever.
Most people don’t realize how sick they are until
they go raw, even if they don’t have an illness.
Now, more than ever, the raw movement has become
popular and things are changing; it hasn’t always
been this way. People like you are coming out of the
woodwork making a difference, and it is awesome!
When people are awakened, they become enlightened.
Enlightenment is the first step to getting
individuals to feel what is right in their heart and
to look in the mirror and say, “I am the one who can
Carrillo-Bucaram: Searching For Fruit
How did you get from realizing that whole, raw,
ripe, organic fruits and vegetables along with the components
of healthy living just make sense for human
health, the environment,
and morality to trying to start an organization to
help foster these things in the world around you?
Carrillo-Bucaram: When you’re raw, there is
one thing that will concern you at first: making
sure you have a good source of food and having
enough of it to sustain yourself. I went raw when I
was in college at Vanderbilt University. Nashville
is not exactly the most raw-friendly city.
Now, its more common for kids in college to be raw;
however, back then it was unheard of, and I was the
only one in the whole university that was trying to
attempt this at the time. I ate nothing but pears,
bananas, and lettuce for a whole year because that
is all I could find organically.
I stored my fruit under my bed and in my closet in
my 8 x 8 dorm room, and I even washed my vegetables
in the girls’ bathroom sink because I didn’t have my
own sink or kitchen to prepare foods. Sourcing good
food became not just a necessity, but it was almost
an obsession and a dream that I wanted so badly.
I wanted an abundance of organic colors, varieties,
and tastes! Although I may have been surviving in
Nashville, I was not thriving. It was not until I
decided to transfer to Rice University in Houston,
TX that I was able to truly find my way in sourcing
Going 100% raw completely changed my life by getting
rid of my hypoglycemia. When someone has a humungous
shift physically, there is no denying that it can
change not only one’s life, but also a community and
beyond. Everything about me changed, and it wasn’t
just my blood sugar levels. I became an entirely new
person. After this transformation, I found it hard
to believe that I was the only one that wanted to
eat an abundance of raw, ripe, organic and fresh
Rawfully Organic Co-Op Stats
Families/Members: 3,800, with 300
or more buying per week.
Venues In Houston: Three
Small Houston-Area Farms Supported:
3 to 6
Funneled To Support Small Organic
Growers: More Than $2.5 Million
About 30 percent less than you'd pay for
organic produce at a high-end supermarket
like Whole Foods.
Give us the run down of the co-op, it's history
(when and how you started it), and it's growth over
Carrillo-Bucaram: When I transferred to
Rice, all I wanted was an abundance of food. After
feeling like was not satisfied in Nashville, I was
determined to source as much organic produce as I
could find. I wanted the best of the best!
At the time I joined the environmental committee at
the university, and together, we helped to start the
first Rice Farmer’s Market on campus. When it first
started, we had tons of local growers come and I had
the privilege of making friends with them and
building relationships with them.
Today, I call them family. Since then, the
farmers market has changed completely because there
is not as much produce, and there are people there
that sell prepared foods, coffees, etc. The produce
is definitely lacking. I was so glad to meet these
farmers then because I got to them before they left
the market. Although I loved buying from them, I
still found myself not being able to satisfy my
choleric intake by just eating locally because
sometimes they would not have enough fruit to
support my 3,000 calorie daily diet.
At that time,
not only was I buying locally, but also I was
spending about $300 a week at Whole Foods for both
my family and me. By this time, my family had seen
me go from wobbly weak to impeccably strong, and
they were pretty much on the raw wagon after that.
We were going through 5 cases or more of food each
After doing tons of research and after networking
through a friend of a friend of a friend of a
friend, I got in contact with a big time distributor
who only deals with large grocery chains in Texas.
He is the only one who carries organics. I asked him
if he would mind delivering to my house if my family
ordered a few cases. He laughed at me, but he told
me that if I could get a minimum of a 40 case order
together, then he would deliver to my house.
Let me put this in perspective for you: there are 24
heads of lettuce in one case, there are 40 pounds of
bananas in one case, etc. Although I love produce,
and we can go through it like crazy, 40 cases was
too much for my family. That’s when I thought that
if could get a few other friends together in this
order, we could probably pull it off. Our first
order was split up in my living room with 12 other
people, it was the most abundant week of our lives!
Each week after that more and more people wanted in,
and before we knew it we had 60 families a week
picking up out of my garage! Here I am 4 years later
with over 3,800 participating families, 3 different
venues in Houston, and over 2 million dollars spent
on organic produce.
Carrillo-Bucaram: Raw Community Building
How exactly does the co-op function? Besides food
distribution, how does it promote community building
around the ideals you hold dear? Is there a social
Carrillo-Bucaram: Since day one this co-op
has been completely non-profit. Yes, that means I am
not writing myself a paycheck! Although I am the one
who still does all of the ordering, purchasing,
organization, computing strategizing, coaching,
fundraising, website management, recipe posts, and
running the show on the day of the co op, I still
rely on every helping hand and on every volunteer to
make this organization run.
We have at
least 100 families pick up on each co-op day and I
rely on all my volunteers to help prepare for this
task. It has become something so much bigger
than volunteers coming from week to week; it has
become a family.
Its not like a grocery store where you just walk in
and get food, but you have families every week that
come to sort the shares, participate in sharing
recipes, give hugs, offer support in the raw
lifestyle, and more. The co-op is not a
service, and it is not a sale; it’s a community of
people centered around the importance of buying
fresh, ripe, local and organic in abundance for
one’s self and for one’s family. Everyone is truly
interested in creating a change in themselves and in
What are the co-ops objectives? What makes it
unique? Do you see it as a force for improving the
world? Has it had an impact on the Houston
Carrillo-Bucaram: A co-operative is a
community of individuals and families that come
together to share in seasonal foods and to work
together to create a better balance of peace and
harmony for all.
It's for everyone, and it is helped run by everyone.
Everyone has the ability to contribute in his own
way. The boxes are called "shares" because we buy
the food in bulk, and we split it amongst everyone.
Because it is seasonal and because it is a
co-operative, people will not always receive exactly
what they want or in the quantities they want. It is
learning to share what's available and be
The best joys can come from being creative with the
unexpected surprises in your box and can come from
sharing the most delicious and healthiest of foods
with your friends and family! One day a Rawfully
Organic will exist in every state, it will change
Absolutely, we are one of the biggest co-ops in
Texas, if not the biggest. To my knowledge, we are
spending more money on organic produce than any
other organic co-op in Texas.
Has the co-op expanded quickly? How many members
does it have? How many of them are raw?
Carrillo-Bucaram: Anyone and anybody can be
in the co-op; we have a vast array of raw foodies,
vegetarians, juicers, vegans, or simply foodie
lovers. All are welcome and all appreciate the
bountiful boxes. Before I started this co-op I
barely had any raw friends at all, but now I have
more than I could possibly ask for, and almost all
of them are raw because of the influence of my
lifestyle and the co-op. I am honored to share this
with them and it is so much fun to live it with
others than to live it by myself.
Carrillo-Bucaram: Running The Co-Op
Do you have any special training or skills that
helped you do this? Do you have a business
background or some previous training running a co-op
Carrillo-Bucaram: Love for an abundance of
food in conjunction with my triple major at Rice
University help give me the knowledge and the
passion to run this co-op. Although I graduated in
the top 5% of my class as a Suma Kum Laude, I never
had any non-profit training. I had to learn all of
that jargon on the way.
What are you passionate about? What makes you
excited to be alive?
Carrillo-Bucaram: I considerate the act of
eating to be holy because it creates the aura that
surrounds me and gives me the energy to cooperate,
the fuel to run, the rhythm to dance, and the heart
to love. I make a living coaching people to
live raw, and I am also a practicing ceramicist. I
love to dance, sing, and spend time with my family
and friends. I also love running!!!
Tell us about your future goals for yourself and the
co-op. Where do you want to be in 10 years?
Carrillo-Bucaram: My future goals for
myself and the co op are one in the same. In 10
years from now there will be a Rawfully Organic in
many different cities across the U.S. and
I plan to travel the globe as a guest speaker
promoting not only this lifestyle, but also
encouraging organic farming and sourcing local food.
I have already started on two different books, and
my new website dedicated towards teaching people how
to source their food and achieve 100% raw will be
out next month.
Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram: Raw Food Evangelism
Could you tell me a bit about the raw food
advocacy aspect of the co-op?
Carrillo-Bucaram: The co-op is completely
centered around eating raw and living a raw food's
lifestyle--hence the name Rawfully Organic. It
places emphasis not only on eating raw, but in
eating pure, organic produce. The boxes ONLY contain
produce, and the co-op does not sell other packaged
goods. It's all about the BOX baby! More often than
not, you will hear someone say, "Oh, I am SO excited
about my box!"
I am frequently teaching raw foods classes in the
Houston area about eating raw, and every season, the
Houston Arboretum hosts my EAT IT RAW preparation
class demo, where I make a 3-4 course meal for at
least 60 people. During this class, I do nothing but
rep the raw!
I do about 3-4 raw food
presentations, talks, or classes each month in the
Houston area. I would like to branch out more. Next
month, my new raw website will be out, teaching
people how to be 100% raw.
Top-secret stuff until it comes out, but I am SO
excited for it! All will benefit from the coolness
of this site! Rawfully Organic is a source for food.
This site will be the sister site that teaches them
how to achieve this higher level of living.
The ROC website also send out free raw recipes each
week of menu ideas that you can make STRAIGHT from
your box that are completely 811 low fat raw vegan!
I also send out a weekly email newsletter to
everyone in the co-op (and not in the co-op)
inspiring them to eat raw and to live a healthier
lifestyle. I truly believe that it is all about
shifting one's perception to make this world a
ROC is getting ready to have it's first annual Iron
Chef competition amongst not only it's co-operators,
but EVERYONE. It will be a national you tube
competition for prizes like a vitamix, vibram five
fingers, and more! The final competition will be
here in Houston, and it will be judged by some
pretty cool Houston celebs! :) :)
Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram: Making An Impact
Carrillo-Bucaram: When I was first raw in
Houston, I knew ONE other person who was raw. That's
it. Today, I know about 4,000 Houstonians who know
about the raw movement because of our beloved co-op.
Many of my closest friends are now raw or
attempting...too many friends to even give you a
The co-op is ALL about RAW advocacy :)
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