If you’ve ever eaten a steaming bowl of organic brown rice, enjoyed sleeping on a cotton futon mattress, or sipped a cup of medicinal tea, take a moment to thank Aveline Kushi. Aveline, the queen mother of the natural health and organic foods movement, died in July of heart failure.
Aveline was born to a Christian family in Yokota, Japan. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, she quit her job as an elementary school teacher and came to the United States to promote world peace. In 1951 she met her husband, Michio Kushi, at a World Federalists convention.
Aveline will be remembered for her legendary tenacity, her geishalike beauty, and her prodigious entrepreneurial initiative. She founded or inspired the formation of dozens of businesses and nonprofit organizations devoted to human health and societal well-being. In 1966 she founded Erewhon, the nation’s first natural foods store, in Los Angeles and later co-founded East West Journal (now Natural Health). Students and colleagues of hers then went on to start food companies such as Bread and Circus, Eden Foods, Imagine Foods, and Traditional Medicinals, and periodicals such as, New Age Journal and Utne Reader.
Aveline introduced the use of macrobiotic cooking—a dietary regime centered around whole grains and vegetables—for various disorders, including cancer and heart disease, thus contributing directly to the growth and interest in complementary and alternative healing practices. She wrote an autobiography, a book for children, and numerous cookbooks, including, Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking, and she taught macrobiotics at seminars throughout the world.
Aveline is survived by her husband, four sons, four sisters, three brothers, 13 grandchildren, and 19 nieces and nephews. Donations may be sent to the Aveline Kushi Memorial Fund, c/o Kushi Institute, Box 7, 198 Leland Rd., Becket, MA 01223. A reunion of her friends and students is being planned for autumn 2001. For information, call 413/623-5741.
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Eric Utne was a student of Aveline and Michio Kushi. He lived in their home, attended Aveline's cooking classes, and worked in several of their businesses from 1968-1973