Top 3 Contest Stories

First of all, thank you to everyone who sent in their stories! We are inspired by you and your mothers. It was a difficult decision but here are 3 of our favourites that we can’t help but share with you!

#3 Patty Hall

Growing up in a lower income area in Cleveland, Ohio, let’s just say “health” wasn’t really a main concern.  In fact, it really wasn’t something anyone in my family or anyone I knew concerned themselves with, to be quite honest.  Life wasn’t easy, and my dad worked hard labour at the Steel Mill and my mom literally worked her fingers off as a seamstress.  Most days my parents were just happy to have enough money to put food on the table for us.  But my mom always made real home made food.  For how limited her budget was at the time, she was a pretty amazing cook.  We always had the best meals she could put together.  And we always had vegetables which she, of course, insisted we eat each meal!

I’m not that old (I’m 46), but eating “organic” wasn’t a thing, and neither was Pilates or Yoga.  We certainly didn’t even have the money to play sports other than what was offered for free through school.  But life was different then.  We didn’t have computers or cell phones or satellite tv, or any of the stuff people waste their lives on today.  My mother always made sure we stayed active.  Like I said, we didn’t have a lot of money, but it didn’t cost anything to dance!  My mom always loved to dance.  I have such fond memories of her teaching us new disco moves, dancing to the Bee Gees or whatever other crazy music was popular at the time.  We had a blast dancing (all of us girls together) my 2 sisters and myself and my mom.  Sometimes our cousins and neighbours joined in.  It was so much fun.  We danced a lot.

My mom would also take us swimming.  Sounds like no big deal, but we lived in the inner city, so we would all pile in the hot sticky car, pray it would get us there without breaking down, and spend all day at a park having the best day ever!  My mom would basically spend a whole day’s pay to get us into the park where we would swim while she put on a big picnic with a bbq (with charcoal!) and organized games for us. 

Our lives back then were much different than most people know now.  We didn’t have club memberships or fancy food.  However, without knowing anything about health, my mom knew keeping us active and making home cooked meals was the key to a healthy happy family.  I miss those days, but am so grateful for them.

~ Patty

#2 Brett Hall

My mom was way ahead of her time. She watched her own mom, my grandma, go downhill after taking numerous prescription drugs. One drug would cause side effects, then another, and another, until over the years my grandma had a huge amount of pills to take. My mom says she was the first one on the planet to know the harmful effects of drugs. My mom was 7 or 8 years old at the time grandma started taking her nerve pills, which was in 1965. Then a couple of years later she found out the extent of grandma’s addiction when a friend of grandma’s hid all of her pills just for fun. It goes without saying that to this day my mom won’t even touch an aspirin.

In high school (1972) mom moved in with her nana, my great-nana. After eating home cooked, healthy meals every day that grand-nana was cooking, mom said she noticed such a big difference in her health and self confidence. She started reading up on food and the health benefits they cause. Grand-nana used to call her Dr. Martin because my mom would tell her what foods to eat when she was sick or had a cold, and it would work … grand-nana would get better.

Later on when mom was in her 20’s The Big Carrot health food store opened. My mom says she was the first person in Toronto to know about Ezekiel bread because she would always be looking up health information. One day she inquired at The Big Carrot if they had any Ezekiel bread and none of the owners knew what she was talking about. Mom explained this different kind of sprouted grain bread to them and they told her they would look it up. Then one day it finally showed up, much to mom’s surprise because she had waited quite a while. Now Ezekiel bread is sold everywhere!

You can ask her anything about natural health and she knows the answer. She even talks to our family doctor about natural products all the time because she won’t take any prescribed drugs. She tells the doctor to look up different information that the doctor has never heard of. Our doctor is now taking a couple of courses on natural healing powers of foods. My mom said she started clapping when the doctor told her about it. The doctor told my mom she should take a course called mini-med school because she knows my mom is very interested in the human body, how it works and what’s best for it. My mom said she would love to take all the medical courses and go on to be a naturopathic doctor, but it’s far too much money and not enough time to reap the benefits.

She is now 60 years old. Her dad, my grandpa, who also believes food is your medicine is now 97 years old and still going strong! I’m 19 years old now and have been eating organic foods all my life, so I feel like I am following in their healthy footsteps. Thank you Mom for the wealth of healthy information you have passed on to me.

~ Brett

#1 Eva Fisher

My mom always fed us good food growing up. At a time when most other kids ate Dunkaroos and Lunchables, I would open my lunchbox and find organic lettuce and almond butter sandwiches on homemade bread made with local flour. Much of the summer she would feed us vegetables and fruit from her own garden: a place where everything was grown organically. We felt connected to her and to the earth through the food that we ate.

One year she decided to plant a peach tree. Even in cold Peterborough the tree flourished, producing hundreds of cheerful yellow and red peaches. We were all called to the kitchen, where she taught us to blanch the peaches to remove their skin and then can them according to her grandmother’s recipe, substituting raw organic sugar from Jo Anne’s for the white sugar.

Her grandmother was a fruit farmer in the Niagaras. Mom told us how her grandma would make her a jar of black currant jam every year, just for her, and she would try to make it last as long as she could, a little jar of love. My almond butter and lettuce sandwiches and home canned peaches were part of a long lineage: mothers and grandmothers feeding their children with the best food they could.

In 2008 the last fruit cannery in Canada closed. Farmers uprooted their orchards and burned the trees, attracted by cash incentives from the government. My mom was sad, thinking of her grandmother; that way of life was gone now. So we took to the kitchen. Peaches, pears, relish, salsa. Horseradish teargas. We made hundreds of little jars of love, calling ourselves the Mount Pleasant Canning Factory.

Times change, our food systems are changing, but to mothers like mine, good organic food is much more than a trend. It’s a tradition spanning generations of women who all wanted to see their children and grandchildren grow up healthy and loved.

~ Eva

We’re blessed to know so many inspiring mothers in our community! Did you know that Jo Anne started this family business right out of her living room? Watch our interview with Jo Anne, her daughter Margo & niece Sarah!

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