The story behind it all.

Throughout my life I have completed university programs on three different continents – including courses in health policy, socio-economic disparities, athletic therapy, sports nutrition, a whole lot of cadaver dissection lab, health economics, body composition, memorizing unmemorable things about vitamins, foreign aid, statistics and physics; worked as a mental health coach for an elite sports team; and conducted extensive research in behaviour change and self-regulation for athletes and children who have developmental disabilities.  I held the title "Director of Strategy" in a multidisciplinary injury clinic; completed a change management leadership course and a high profile fancy-dancy certificate in corporate social responsibility and international development; worked an underpaid non-profit job overseeing health programs in one of the worlds most underdeveloped nations and spending a month in India - mostly in bed or at a hospital.

On the outside, my life pretty much revolved around health. But on the inside, i was experiencing incredible stomach pains on an almost daily basis. It literally got to the point where I would have to curl up in a ball on the floor in the middle of an academic lecture after eating steamed broccoli & chicken in a whole wheat pita.

I was "diagnosed with IBS" while living in Scotland in 2008 and, while I didn't know very much at the time, I was absolutely determined that i was going to deal with it without taking drugs everyday. This happened pretty slowly at first. 

Then I went to India.

After that trip, I spent every day for almost an entire month walking back and forth to the student health clinic in edinburgh getting blood tested for every type of communicable disease. When it became obvious that my problems weren't unrelated to something i may have contracted during my travels, i turned back to my diet. It was at this point that i started experimenting with dairy, sugar, gluten, preservatives, sulphites, nightshades, paleo, FODMAPS, allergy elimination diets...you name it. I tolerated all of this for the sake of feeling better, but the truth was: i was still in love with bakeries.  Oh the smell!

I had to find a way to balance my love for good food, with my love of being healthy.

It is in that space that the REAL FOOD collective was born.

"Food is the centre of so many things. Over-eating, under-nourishment, security, social responsibly, climate change, mental health and general community impacts around the world; thus, both our power and demise lie in the ways that we purchase, prepare and consume food. Food can heal us or destroy us - as individuals and as a global community."

- carolynn winterhalt