An Ottawa Teacher's Journey to Healthy Living

0 comments / Posted by Erin Forget

For Kathleen McPhee, it was caring for ill parents that triggered her realization that the things we eat and use on our bodies could be connected to our long-term health outcomes.

“My parents were really unwell. Dad had skin cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and mom was struggling with high blood pressure,” she says.  “I realized that while there are some things you can’t prevent, there are a lot of things that can be prevented before they happen.”

And so it started with a simple switch: Kathleen – a teacher - and her husband signed up to receive an organic produce basket we every week.   “We began buying organic produce and cooking more from scratch with whole grains, and eating organic local meats. We cut out processed food. We got rid of the microwave,” Kathleen explains.

Next came household cleaners, and then they purchased ethically sourced building materials for their home.

“Our family began the switch to natural and organic products a few years ago for personal reasons: we simply wanted to be healthier. We began small but we now realize what a huge global and ethical decision we had made,” she says. “The journey we’re taking together to health made us realize what a deep impact our buying decisions made locally and globally.  We now look for sustainable products each time we make any purchase.”

She discovered terra20 after her previous go-to store closed, during a trip to Ikea.  She was surprised to realize the range of products that are available in support of healthy and sustainable lifestyles.  While she’s made the switch in most of the major areas, she continues to replace things one by one as her existing items wear out.

For those who are feeling overwhelmed by where to start, or who are concerned about the cost, she suggests taking a hard look at your needs, and focusing on the fundamentals first.  For her, that was the food she was eating.

Kathleen tries to bring her passion for healthy and sustainable living into her classroom whenever possible.  Her class has an in-class composter, and the school where she teaches promotes the use of litterless lunch solutions for students.  Her hope is that a ripple effect will make these choices more accessible for everyone.

“If more of us could and would make the switch, buying local, organic and healthy products would become more accessible and affordable for everyone. This is my great hope,” she says.

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