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The History and Future of Organic Supplements

The health food business began more than a century ago with names like Sylvester Graham and John H. Kellogg. Graham introduced the famous Graham crackers in 1830 and John H. Kelloggs with his brother introduced the famous cornflakes cereal. By 1899 the Kelloggs brothers were the first to become millionaires of the newly born “fad food” industry.

During the early 1900s scientists began quantifying food groups. Dubious elixirs claiming all kinds of miracles began to be sold from bandwagons that traveled from town to town. Fraudulent claims and mass gullibility led the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in 1906 to restrict the use of health claims on foods and drugs.

Health magazines began to be published promoting vitamins, food preparation and exercise creating health Mellitox awareness and warning people of the dangers of pollution. During World War II the first book on organic food, Organic Gardening and Farming, was released and became an immediate bestseller. In the late 1980s companies like Amway, NeoLife, and Shaklee distributed costly vitamins from door to door grossing a total of $700 million selling health supplements.

In the counterculture of the 1960s and the 1970s university students opened up community gardens, cooperative grocery stores, health-food restaurants, and organic farms. Ecology and earth preservation became the buzz words. Foods like brown rice, wheat germ, honey, nuts, sprouts became popular health foods. Vegetables were considered healthy if they were locally and organically produced. Vegetarian diets became the “in” thing. Sugar, white bread and red meat began to be thought of as unhealthy food. The counter-culture movement is where the health food business was born and found its niche. As patients became self-reliant treating their ailments with natural products, doctors began complaining of patients using untested herbal concoctions and eastern methods for self-treatment. This movement was soon to emerge as alternate medicine or complementary medicine. Conventional foods were enriched or fortified with nutrients. In 1973, the FDA required such products to show labels with ingredients and the RDA values for protein and seven essential vitamins and minerals. In the 1990s the medical profession began to be slowly convinced of herbal methods of treatment with growing research validating some of their claims. Doctors began to combine nutrition and preventive medicine to treat patients for various health disorders. The World Health Organization began to adopt herbal treatments to cut down on medical costs. The U.S. National Institutes of Health began to research herbal medicine claims.

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