The first step to living a healthy lifestyle is education. You can’t eat right if you don’t know the ins and outs of where, when, and what to eat.
The conversation about health simply isn’t loud enough in the Toronto area. Together with my team at Back Clinics of Canada, I am taking the initiative and jump starting the discussion with this new Health Initiative. We interviewed four successful health businesses and asked them a little bit about themselves. Please let us know your thoughts on the matter! We want you to start talking about this!
We talked to Ran Goel from Fresh City Farms, Mario Farucci from The Healthy Butcher, Marie Crawford from The Pulp Kitchen, and The Big Carrot Natural Food Market.
Here’s how it went…
How are you contributing toward a healthier Toronto?
Ran: We deliver seasonal and organic meals and groceries.
Mario: By providing a transparent source of food, always allowing customers to trace back the meat and other products we sell, and explaining exactly what they are buying without using meaningless marketing terms and gimmicks.
The Big Carrot: The Big Carrot has been a neighbourhood store in Toronto’s east end for 33 years. We support organic, local and non-GMO farmers and food systems so we can offer our customers the best food. We also host regular Thursday Evening Lectures on a variety of health topics and invite the community to come learn about how to use nutrition and lifestyle as a disease prevention measure.
Marie: We like to think it’s pretty much everything we do here. Everything we sell is plant-based and we believe that this is the healthiest diet. We feel like everything we sell is helping all of Toronto and have successfully been doing this since 1998.
Who is your typical customer?
Ran: Anyone who wants to eat clean and healthy
Mario: 30+ years old, highly educated, cares about their health
The Big Carrot: Our customer base is very diverse but we do see many young families and stay at home parents shopping at our store. We have customers tell us that they have shopped with us since day one in 1983 as well as brand new shoppers curious about health food.
Marie: We see all walks of life. Mostly female mid 20s to mid 40s. But we really do see everyone!
How did you get started in the health market?
Ran: We have been farming in Toronto for 6 growing seasons. Fresh City was founded to address the crisis in the way we grow and market our food.
Mario: We were vegetarian, looking to reintroduce meat back into our diets but could not find properly raised meat… So we created our own source.
The Big Carrot: In 1983, nine friends collaborated to start The Big Carrot. The store was founded on cooperative principles with a goal of being a democratic workplace. Today, we are still proudly a worker owned store and we are about to open our second location in Toronto’s Upper Beach community.
Marie: It was a shift. In my youth, I was part of an animal protection group. I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish because people felt the group was very confrontational. I wanted to help people make better choices in a non confrontational way.
What recommendations/tips would you like to give to Torontonians looking to lead a healthier life?
Ran: Eat real food together with loved ones.
Mario: Eat real. Concentrate on real foods, and health naturally flows from there.
The Big Carrot: We always recommend starting with nutrition because you really are what you eat. We offer free nutrition store tours with Holistic Nutritionists for those who want a little guidance to get started.
Marie: Education is really the key. As a personal trainer, I encounter many people and I find that most people aren’t drinking enough water, eating enough leafy greens and they are trying out too many diets as opposed to making permanent lifestyle shifts. I recommend eating more greens like avocado, kale, and lettuce which have high alkalinity and drinking more water.
What does living a healthy lifestyle mean to you?
Ran: Eating and sleeping well. Staying active. Having time for friends and family. And doing meaningful work.
Mario: Eating a balanced diet of real food, enjoying the food I eat, and exercising regularly.
The Big Carrot: A healthy lifestyle is a balance of eating well, reducing stress, finding joy, exercising regularly and drinking plenty of water!
Marie: The definition of health is the absence of disease and a feeling of wellness. For me, it’s about having lots of energy. I have eaten a plant based diet for 22 years now. I didn’t even know what a lentil was until I was 19 years old and I made permanent lifestyle changes.
What is one essential healthy food that people can add to their menus?
Mario: Trick question; I don’t think there is “one” food, you need to eat a balanced diet to be healthy.
The Big Carrot: Carrots!
Marie: It’s really hard to choose just one thing but I would have to say either kale or quinoa.
Do you have back pain?!
The Big Carrot: No
Do you think that there is enough people talking about health in your community? What are you doing about it? How would you answer these questions? Take the survey HERE.
Who are they?
Fresh City is a city farm that delivers seasonal and organic meals and groceries to thousands in Toronto each week.
The Healthy Butcher provides a transparent source for healthy meat.
For natural food customer and those curious about becoming natural food customers, The Big Carrot provides complete one-stop shopping, by offering high quality products, friendly and informed service, competitive prices and ongoing public education to make natural food selection easy. We support the development of a healthy and sustainable food system by purchasing from small local, organic producers when ever possible and by ensuring each product meets a set of rigorous standards. All of this is supported by providing our team satisfying employment in a fair and productive workplace.
Pulp kitchen is a fresh juice bar and healthy eatery. We serve takeout salads sandwiches and soups as well as fresh juice and smoothies.