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  Consumer Health

Consumer Health Organization of Canada (CHOC) was begun in 1973 by three individuals who chose to dedicate their lives to spreading awareness about the holistic natural approach to improving our health.

The Consumer Health Organization is a non-profit organization committed to making people aware of the "holistic" or "alternative" approach to health. We emphasize the prevention of disease through nutrition, whole foods, dietary supplements, herbs and other healing modalities. Practicing prevention creates a healthy individual, and when the individual is healthy, the whole of society benefits.

The Holistic Approach

Consumer Health's mission is to maximize the quality and longevity of your life using the holistic approach which encompasses the whole being: the body, mind and spirit. This is reflected in our logo, a triangle crowned by stars, entwined by a hexagon. The triangle symbolizes humanity in its three-fold aspect of spirit, mind and body and the emergence of the active out of the passive. The stars symbolize light shining in the darkness, the spirit struggling against the forces of the darkness toward the light. The hexagon is the expression of the self in combination with the five elements. Our logo expresses: "Reclaim and embrace your natural birthright, radiant health and a shining spirit, become one with your creator and live in harmony with the whole of creation".

Our Goals

  1. Our aim is to encourage the prevention of disease through knowledge, and to help the public make informed decisions about their health-care through exposure to a variety of alternatives. Natural alternatives based on a "holistic" or "natural" approach strengthen the whole body. They include naturopathy, homeopathy, botanical medicine, acupuncture, ayurveda, nutrition, magnetic therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, oxygen therapy, chelation therapy, meditation and visualization and many many more.
  2. Our aim is to bridge the gap between allopathic medicine and holistic preventive medicine and to work in cooperation with the conventional medical community. CHOC has always stressed alternative to mean "as well as; not instead of".
  3. Our aim is to work together with other like-minded health advocacy groups in a spirit of harmony and cooperation to help improve the quality of life for everyone. We do not exist separately from others, nor are we separate from our environment. What each of us does affects others and our circle cannot be completed without you.
  4. The cost of health is "skyrocketing" both financially and in terms of human suffering. The incidence of degenerative disease is increasing every year and our environment is also degenerating. As our goals are put into practice, we can all work together to bring our health costs under control.

Our Purpose

To provide information to the public through:

  • our annual three-day Total Health convention unites leaders of the healing fields with members of the public for the mutual education and enlightenment of us all.
  • our monthly newsletters contain a different health article every month full of useful practical information.
  • special guest lectures will be held throughout the year.
  • Consumer Health encourages and supports members and other interested people to hold meetings and set up chapters in their own areas.
  • our growing new website will provide you with online access to our books and newsletter articles, sorted for your convenience into subject areas. We will have upcoming new features (Health News, Tip of the Week, practitioner referral lists, organic farms and organizations of interest) for your information.

Make a Change

Consumer Health represents a very large and powerful special interest group, and that is you the consumer. The power for real and positive change has always been in the hands of the sleeping masses. Make life happen for you not to you by increasing your knowledge about health. Become an aware active participant in your over-all health by taking an important first step. Join CHOC for the support you will need in your health education. Help to make this information available to more people by donating your time as a volunteer, by sending a donation, and by becoming a member of Consumer Health Organization .

The Early Days

Consumer Health Organization began as an idea in the mind of the late Leon Shelley, one of Canada's pioneer film producers. At the age of 65, Leon, a gentle and deeply spiritual man, decided to embark on a career as a humanitarian. He was interested in meditation and often used to refer to God as "The Management". He jogged, rode a bike, ate raw vegetables and whole foods, and kept disease at bay with a large bottle of lemon juice, maple syrup and chili powder every morning. His favourite topic was "averting the skyrocketing costs in our health-care system".

Leon met John Tough at his natural food store, where they regularly discussed their mutual frustrations about the efficient suppression of any health approaches other than allopathic and pharmaceutical. They agreed that someone should be doing something about it, and ultimately that someone would be themselves. They both had very strong personal reasons for wanting to form a vehicle to increase public awareness of the alternative healing modalities available, and CHOC began as a deep labour of love.

Founding of CHOC

An example of how Leon operated was the birth of CHOC in 1973. While at a National Health Federation convention in the U.S., Leon button-holed the late Walter Hodson, father of the health food industry. They immediately hit it off, and over the next three days hammered out the principles on which CHOC was to operate and, in fact, continues to operate: no commercialism and no negativity towards the medical profession.

Early Conventions

The first convention held in 1974 at the Constellation Hotel drew a total of about 800 over three evenings. Subsequent Total Health conventions were held at the Royal York Hotel, and drew many of the great pioneers of the alternative health movement. Walter Hodson, Beatrice Trum Hunter, Paavo Airola, Bernard Jensen, Charlotte Gerson and Bill Ellis were among the first speakers, followed by John Christopher, Robert Mendelson, Ray Evers, Kurt Donsbach, Jan de Vries and Linus Pauling. These men offered their services free of charge to help others, and were deeply loved for it.

As president of CHOC, Leon travelled at his own expense, staying with friends or at the YMCA, to check out possible speakers at conferences all over North America and even Europe for the eight Total Health conferences he produced between 1977 and 1984. "So-and-so's a great piece of talent", he would say. A consummate professional, Leon would always try to meet prospective speakers in person, regardless of the energy and expense involved. Chasing down new speakers is carried on by Libby Gardon and her husband who still travel to the NHF conventions all over the continent. Today, the Total Health conferences are recognized by alternative health professionals as the best on the continent.

Early Publicity

From 1977 to 1982, Exploring Healing Alternatives was produced by Robert Hollis. Speakers from the Total Health conferences were interviewed, and all sessions at the conference were videotaped from the site and aired on Rogers TV. It was such a popular show that it was simulcast by all the cable systems, and this was aired almost in perpetuity.

Libby Gardon

Libby Gardon, a health-conscious mother of four children is current president of Consumer Health. Back in 1972, she was one of John's most knowledgeable customers. Libby became one of the first members of what was at first called the "National Health Federation of Canada" (the Canadian government later vetoed this name). The first meeting she went to was held in Leon's home. At that session were Leon, Libby, Dr. Shrubb and John Tough. During the evening, piles of Leon's articles, clippings, notes etc. cascaded off his dining-room table, and Libby rather tentatively offered to file his flow of paper for him, and she began her career as secretary, and later president, of CHOC.

CHOCs First Office

Libby used her friendship and persuasive powers to obtain upstairs office space in one of George Heenan's houses at the corner of Sheppard and Willowdale. Summer 1976, Leon returned from Europe to find the entire upstairs renovated and decorated for the exclusive use of CHOC. George very quickly became a very good friend to CHOC in all his capacities as landlord, Board Director, treasurer, source of survival funds and financial negotiator. When George's companies moved into bigger and better facilities, space was again available for CHOC. Since his retirement, we no longer have the luxury of George Heenan as our landlord and free space.

Shortly before his death, Leon resigned from CHOC to devote himself to nuclear disarmament and his last act was to ask a reluctant Nobel prizewinner, John Polanyi, to speak on the nuclear issue at the Royal York Hotel. John Tough remains Honourary Chairman of the Board, an honour conferred by Linus Pauling during one of his visits here.

Libby Gardon now holds the office of president of Consumer Health Organization, where she continues to share her abundant knowledge about alternative treatments. She has been greatly assisted in the last few years by her effervescent husband John. They both work without pay in an effort to try to make some difference in a world which is becoming overwhelmed with degenerative illness.

Consumer Health is supported by private donations and memberships.

Letter from the President

I felt that people have the right to know the truth about the treatment they're getting from conventional medicine. You want to do the right thing by your child when you're giving them their vaccinations, but you may not know that the shots have devastating effects on the health of a small percentage of children. You have a right to know that there are other healing modalities. This knowledge will allow you to make an informed choice about your health and to take control of your own health-care. I wish to express my thanks and appreciation to all of you who have helped us over the years, and hope that if you are new to our organization you will come in, say hello and volunteer a little time in whatever capacity you can do best.

Libby Gardon, President,

Consumer Health Organization of Canada.

Our organization is growing and expanding and has to meet many new expenses. Your financial support becomes more and more critical to the continuance of CHOC and its mandate to spread health awareness to the public. We cannot afford to continue with our present "Crisis Disease Care" system. People are seeking and demanding clear access to more natural, less invasive approaches to caring for their own health. If you really care, be there, support your CHOC, attend your Total Health convention, listen and learn.

Volunteer, send a donation, or become a member of Consumer Health Organization.


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