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OBITUARIES / Aveline Kushi, 78, Leading Proponent of Macrobiotic Diet

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

health.

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

was enormous.

"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."

In the early 1960s, the Kushis moved from New York to the Boston area,

where they formed study groups to discuss diet and its effects on health and

world peace.

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

by a sister school in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Massachusetts school

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.

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