meet & eat with Lisa Phares!
we may be a small group of hardworking folks, but organicgirl is abundant with talented and multi-faceted individuals – and Lisa Phares is no exception. she is our organic & food safety compliance manager, an outrigger canoe paddler, a two-time cancer survivor and an advocate for early detection. we recently sat down for a chat with her and were reminded of the excitement in embracing the unexpected every day and the importance of taking a breath.
as food safety & compliance manager, what does a typical day look like for you, and what are you working on?
there is no typical day – you never know what’s going to happen with requests that come in. i am in food safety meetings and a lot of documentation preparation, customer request preparation. right now we are prepping for our global food safety audit and our organic recertification. we used to bring the documents to the auditors, but with working remote, there is a lot that needs to be digitally prepared.
how often do we get recertified?
we are recertified every year. our processes have to be compliant with global food safety standards and the national organic program. the auditors also inspect our facilities to be sure that we are following our processes.
sounds like an intense process to go through every year!
it is, but we have been doing this for years and we are very confident in our processes.
what gets you out of bed in the morning?
seeing the sun rise every day, that’s where my energy comes from. not having a typical day. i like to see what the opportunities are – personal improvements, professional improvements, and just having fun. learning to breathe. i’m blessed to be here.
what’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
i do outrigger canoe paddling so one of my favorite things is going out in my personal canoe. before the pandemic, we would practice in six-man canoes. that’s where my passion is. my other passion is community involvement. i’lI organize a monthly beach clean up with our canoe club, making sure we are good stewards of our beaches and oceans. and just being outdoors, walking, hiking.
where do you usually go out – the Monterey Bay?
yes, the Monterey Bay – it can be challenging, but it’s fun. i’ve been doing it for about 15 years.
has the club been able to meet during the pandemic?
we have not in the six-man canoes. 20 of us have our personal watercrafts, so we’ve been able to get out on the water doing that.
what advice would you give your younger self?
breathe more. take a breath, slow it down. when i was younger, i felt like i was going 100 miles an hour. take a breath, and trust in your own self. have faith in your own self. take time to meditate everyday – 10 minutes – just to breathe.
if you were a salad, which would you be and why?
i think i’d be a spring mix because there’s all these different components to it.
what is the greatest challenge you have overcome, personal or professional?
my greatest challenge personally has been having cancer, i had breast cancer. fortunately it was in the early stages, so all i had to do was have the lump removed and then radiation. i was diagnosed when i first started with organicgirl. i had only been here three months. they were just incredible with their support when i was going through this. i came out the other side doing great. the other challenge was a minor bout of lung cancer, very early stages. i was fortunate that i only needed to have surgery, and that’s done. those are my biggest challenges, and that’s why i say i greet everyday with “yeah! this is all good!”
as a member of the organicgirl wellness committee, you’ve advocated for the pulmonology test. wasn’t it the worksite wellness check that helped you spot the lung cancer?
it was. the pulmonology test measures your breath, and they discovered that my results were very low. i couldn’t breathe out, and they said that i probably had an obstruction. from that point, i went to a pulmonologist who said, yes, you do have a lung obstruction. they did tests which moved into a PET scan and they found this miniscule dot. there was a 50/50 chance that it was cancer, and they said you can either let it stay there or get rid of it. with my family history of cancer, i said i don’t want to worry about it. so they took it out – turns out it was cancer – but it all started with organicgirl having the wellness program.
it is so inspiring to hear from employees at organicgirl who have had cancer and have the best things to say about the support from organicgirl.
absolutely. i am so grateful that i’m here. it’s just amazing how they’re supportive and encouraging and are there for all of us. it says a lot, and it says a lot that people have been here a long time. i’ve been here for 14 years.
thank you for sharing that experience.
it’s our responsibility as survivors to share the information, to be here as support and advocates for early detection and supporting anyone going through this.
how has the pandemic changed your life?
i felt like we didn’t see anybody for nine months. it’s just changed that you don’t have that social interaction, the one-on-one and seeing people smile. with our outrigger canoe club, we’re all huggers. it’s the Hawaiian, Pacific Islander culture: you hug. and that’s been the hardest thing – just hugging people – and you can’t do that. but we’re coming out of it, we’re getting vaccinated and coming out on the upside.
do you have a hidden talent? what is it?
no hidden talent but i steer the six-man canoe, so when i steer i’m the captain of the boat. when i get in the canoe, i’m serious at that point because i’m responsible for everyone in the canoe. i’ve steered in big water, calm water. so that’s my talent i guess – i try to motivate and push people in a positive manner.
what is your favorite recipe with our greens?
here’s one of my favorites: take a spring mix, sear some ahi tuna and dress it with some tropical ginger dressing. in fact, I might go out for lunch…
thanks for chatting, Lisa! stay tuned to our email list to get to know other members of the organicgirl community