Celebrating #100 at Natural Products Expo West
This year marks the extraordinary 100th anniversary of Bragg Live Foods, located in Santa Barbara, CA. In those 100 years, Bragg has dominated even the smallest of health food stores’ shelves with their books and food products and is still continuing to develop new ways to keep its place on those shelves for many more years to come.
How the Legacy Began
According to the company, Paul C. Bragg opened the first health food store in America in 1912. He grew up as a sickly child, stricken with tuberculosis, until he discovered the secret to living a healthy life. He didn’t keep this secret for long, however; he took his knowledge on the road to teach as many people as he could about living a healthy, natural life. In his long life, Paul wrote and published books on fasting, healthy hearts, etc., developed the company’s famous apple cider vinegar, liquid aminos and salad dressings and went on endless inspirational tours that produced an infinite amount of stories about the legendary Paul Bragg, the most well known being his influence on future health and fitness guru Jack LaLanne when he was a young man struggling with sickness and poor diet. As the story goes, Paul saw the sickly boy in the crowd, pulled him up on stage and commanded him to turn his life around right then and there. And with Paul’s help, he did, and became a health industry force to be reckoned with.
Along with Jack, many celebrities follow the teachings of Bragg, among them being the Beach Boys, Clint Eastwood, Katy Perry and George Clooney. Paul ended every lecture by saying “You’ve heard the message of healthy living. Now, start with yourself first, your family, your loved ones and everybody you meet. Have them live a healthy life, and then we’re going to have a healthy America!” Paul brought new ideas to the world, and to this day, those ideas continue to thrive and evolve.
Continuing the Crusade
Paul Bragg’s daughter Patricia now carries on the teachings and business her father put into motion a century ago; she does this by waking up naturally at 5:00 a.m. every morning and doesn’t stop moving until she hits the bed again at night. “I love being a health crusader,” she says, while stationary jogging in her Santa Barbara office. “I love it, live it, preach it…I love living a healthy life.” In her life, Patricia says she never smoked, never drank and gets her “go-power” from deep breathing and practicing what she preaches about diet and lifestyle.
She spent nine months per year touring the country and giving free health lectures called the Bragg Health Crusades with her father and inspiring people to start the first health food stores in their respective states. “It started with one lecture,” says Patricia. “In one city after another where there were no health food stores, they heard my father and they got the message of health. It’s amazing what you can do, even though it’s more difficult now.” Starting a business may be something of a challenge, but not impossible, especially with the growing demand for natural products. “The health industry is exploding,” says Patricia. She should know; her products can be found everywhere, in countries like China and Russia and even the smallest islands off the coast of Alaska. “It’s a miracle. It’s just exploding all over the world.”
Reaching Out to America
Bragg has set its sights on improving the health of America’s children with the Bragg Health Institute’s newest outreach project, Bragg Health Kids, with spokesperson “Cutty” Cutler, host of Cookin’ With Cutty, a syndicated healthy-living television show for families. The project’s mission is to teach kids about nutrition, healthy eating habits and how to make healthy life choices. They accomplish this through free educational tools for families, children, schools and communities in an effort to turn school lunches away from relying on dairy, meat and processed foods and to stem the tide of childhood obesity with exercise and healthy eating choices, says the company.
“We’re doing videos that are going out to schools across America,” says Patricia. “I teach them to chew their food. I say your teeth are there not just to look pretty! They are your choppers because your stomach has no teeth, and they all giggle and laugh…I sometimes get a better response from kindergartners, first graders and second graders than I do adults!”
Other Bragg outreach projects include a free exercise program in Hawaii that has been run six days a week for over 40 years, and classes on organic farming. As well as conducting the health programs, Bragg provides scholarships to students looking to pursue careers in natural health science professions.
Along with keeping America healthy, Patricia makes sure her employees are following a healthy lifestyle as well. Bragg’s Santa Barbara, CA office is stationed on a 120-acre organic farm overlooking the ocean and is well lit with natural light from skylights, has a well-stocked kitchen with distilled water and apple cider vinegar and 10 picnic tables outside for employees to use when the weather is nice; exercise programs and incentives are even in place for employees looking to lose weight or be active when they’ve been sitting at their desks for too long, says Patricia. One of her suggestions is to do stationary jogging at least once an hour for 10 minutes to keep good circulation. “We’re keeping our employees healthy and fit,” says Patricia. “We have three ladies over 80 years old working for us…I don’t believe in age. I feel you’re just as old as you feel, and I feel ageless.”
It’s easy to see that Patricia feels ageless; she can be found constantly holding lectures, touring and leading exercise classes while continuing to run a successful company and still finding time to enjoy life. With her energy, Bragg will most certainly be around for another 100 years at least.
Patricia’s advice to business-owners who hope to someday reach the status and success of Bragg is to keep it “simple as 1-2-3” and not to overcomplicate things. “The choice of which road to take is up to you,” she says. “I tell people, ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me!’ Plan, plot, follow-through, go after your goals. It’s the same in business. That’s what Dad did.” WF
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2012