Archive for June, 2015

History Of Erewhon, Natural Foods Pioneer In The United States

by on Jun.12, 2015, under Books, Free

Aveline Kushi, founder and owner, kneels front row, far right

Released in April of 2006 is a free online reference book (in downloadable PDF format) on the “The History Of Erewhon: Natural Foods Pioneer In The United States” that was written and prepared by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, authors of “The Book Of Tofu” and other similar titles. The book was put together with the help of former Erewhon employee, Patricia Smith and my father’s (Michio Kushi) office along with many others who were involved in Erewhon over the years.

The name “Erewhon” (“nowhere” spelt backwards -with the “w” and the “h” switched) comes from Samuel Butler’s book of the same name about a fictitious utopian world where the sick were thrown in jail for violating nature’s laws and the criminals were sent to the hospital. The book was a favorite of macrobiotic teacher, George Ohsawa.

Erewhon, with the help of its many forward thinking employees, began the natural and organic foods industry in the United States. when it opened its doors in April of 1966 in Boston. It contacted many farmers and growers and asked them to grow organic crops for the first time. Many former employees left Erewhon and started many other companies and brand names that are now familiar in every Whole Food Supermarket.

Erewhon introduced whole cereal grains and beans as a bulk commodity in natural foods stores along with quality Japanese traditional foods. It also introduced items such as whole wheat flour, natural peanut butter, packaged granola and many other items.

Today, Erewhon is known only as a brand name for some whole grains cereals and as a natural whole food supermarket in the Los Angeles area but the whole of the natural and organic foods industry owes it’s start to macrobiotics and the work of the many employees of Erewhon.

Some of the many food companies and brand names inspired by macrobiotics include:

  1. Erewhon
  2. Eden Foods
  3. Westbrae
  4. Nasoya
  5. Imagine Foods
  6. Grainassance
  7. Traditional Medicinals
  8. Aubrey Organics
  9. Lundberg Family Farms
  10. Whole Food Supermarkets
  11. Muso Foods (Japan)
  12. Mitoku (Japan)
  13. Lima Foods (Belgium)

And many, many more…

Many thanks to William and Akiko and to Patricia Smith for documenting this bit of history for everyone to read!

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