Michio Kushi, Scholar who Popularized America’s Natural Foods Movement, Has Died at 88

Michio Kushi, the pioneer of natural foods and the idea of plant-based diet in the United States, has died

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Michio Kushi was the founder of the Kushi Institute, which promotes the macrobiotic diet as a means of disease prevention.

Michio Kushi, Japanese scholar and founder of the Kushi Institute, a macrobiotic education center, has died at the age of 88, reports The New York Times

Kushi and his first wife Aveline, who died in 2001, founded Erewhon in the 1960s, a brand of natural foods that eventually became its own store offering staples of the macrobiotic diet, which focuses on whole grains and local produce over highly-processed foods. At the time, the idea of such a diet was “heresy,” said Alex Jack, the general manager of the Kushi Institute.

In the 1970s, Kushi and his supporters founded the East-West Journal and the East-West Foundation “for macrobiotic research and cross-cultural understanding,” and subsequently opened the Kushi Institute in Becket, Mass., dedicated to macrobiotic nutrition research and education. Kushi also taught that health and wellness were critically important to the keeping of peace.  

The Kushi Institute, which is still active, promotes macrobiotics as a path toward “extraordinary health” and the reversal of “cancer, diabetes, psoriasis, and more.” Kushi’s own death was caused by pancreatic cancer, and his son, epidemiologist Haruo Kushi, told The New York Times that it was “clear that many different things contribute to cancer, and there’s a lot we don’t understand.”

Mr. Kushi is survived by his wife and four sons. A memorial service will be held in late January, with more details to follow, according to a statement of remembrance from the Kushi Institute.



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