Aveline Kushi, a leader of the health food movement who
helped found one of the nation's first natural food stores, has died after a
lengthy battle with cancer. She was 78.
With her husband, Michio, the Japanese-born Kushi was a leading proponent
of alternative medicine and of macrobiotics, the belief that eating a mostly
vegetarian diet of organic grains and produce effects far more than physical
Practitioners believe that eating meat and processed foods contributes to
aggression and disharmony not only in individuals, but in whole societies,
undermining prospects for world peace.
Kushi was diagnosed with cancer of the cervix about nine years ago. She
died early Tuesday at the couple's home in Brookline, Mass.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Michio Kushi said his wife's influence
"She is the originator of the natural food movement in America. Even the
word 'natural food,' she chose to use that," he said.
"The people who began the movement and who are leading the movement have
lost their symbol and inspiration," he said.
Among her books are "Aveline Kushi's Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking"
and "The Macrobiotic Cancer Prevention Cookbook."
where they formed study groups to discuss diet and its effects on health and
The groups generated demand for natural and organic foods, and in 1966
Aveline Kushi opened Erewhon, a shop in Brookline named for a utopian novel by
British philosopher Samuel Butler. Soon afterward she opened a branch in Los
Angeles. She sold the company in 1983.
She was born in Yokota, Japan, and came to the United States in 1951.
"When we first arrived in this beautiful country over three decades ago,
there was almost no good food," she wrote in her autobiography, "Aveline: The
Life and Dream of the Woman Behind Macrobiotics Today."
"We discovered that we couldn't depend on the food industry, the government
or the medical profession to change. We would have to make wonderful food
available to everybody ourselves," she wrote.
In 1978, the couple founded the Kushi Institute, a school to teach
macrobiotics. Thousands have attended the institute's courses and those offered
moved to Becket, Mass., in 1990.
Christine Akbar, a Kushi family spokeswoman, said Kushi underwent
traditional radiation therapy after learning she had cancer. When the cancer
spread to her bones, she was told there was no other conventional treatment
available, Akbar said. Kushi relied on acupuncture and other Eastern medicines,
and the cancer was in remission for several years.
Besides her husband, she is survived by four sons, 13 grandchildren and
seven siblings. A daughter died of cancer in 1995.