"IT'S BEEN FULL AND FUN"
Born in Los Angeles 1948, Gregory was brought up by parents with a keen interest in healthy eating. Mother Margaret cooked all the family’s meals and baked wholemeal bread (you couldn’t buy it then). Father Ken got into ‘weird’ things like yoga and Zen, always exhorting young Gregory to “keep off the beaten track.” When he was three, the family moved to London, where he has lived most of the time since, with a few years interspersed in Germany, France, Omaha Nebraska, and India.
Gregory won numerous honours throughout his education, and was voted by fellow seniors at Central High School to be the schools’ most intelligent guy. In the run-up to the famous Summer of Love, he went to college at U. C. Berkeley, the definitive hotbed radical campus of the Sixties. At the time, Timothy Leary was exhorting the youth of America to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Gregory covered the first two bases in the last three months of 1966 and then, at a party celebrating New Year’s Eve, he dropped out of the tree he was dancing in, and broke his back (no, he was not turned on at the time). He returned to the UK for rehabilitation.
Soon after his release, in a wheelchair, from Stoke Mandeville hospital Gregory was thrust into a leading role in the introduction of natural foods to Britain. Having earlier been introduced to the macrobiotic diet by his brother Craig, Gregory now found himself picking up the reins from him, midway through plans to re-open a short-lived illegal restaurant in a new legal venue. An unexpected crisis prevented Craig from reaching completion, and Gregory ditched his return to university to get the restaurant opened and spread the word about how food can change our lives. It had to be done.
Gregory christened the restaurant Seed and called the menu Tomorrow’s You. It soon became the favourite culinary watering hole for the cream and the whey of 1960’s hippie community, from regulars John and Yoko to those taking up the offer of a free meal. It truly became the seed of the British market for natural and organic foods. That seed sprouted in 1969, when Gregory opened Ceres, the UK’s first natural food shop, in All Saint’s Road. It sold strange stuff like organic brown rice, miso, sunflower seeds, chick peas, tahini and even seaweeds. Customers of Seed could now cook these new natural foods in their own homes.
There was nothing easy-to-digest out there about eating naturally or organically and in balance with the planet. This prompted Gregory to introduce Harmony magazine in 1968, publishing, distributing and partly penning three editions whilst running the restaurant. Restaurant regular John Lennon liked it so much he dedicated an 8-frame cartoon to its support. One issue included an article entitled Diet of the Viet Cong, explaining how combat rations of yang roasted rice would inevitably lead the Viet Cong to victory against yin junk food-eating Americans. Another explained The Art of Life, followed by detailed instructions for cutting carrots correctly. See pdf’s of Harmony magazine – Issue 1.pdf – Issue 2.pdf – issue 3.pdf
Craig returned to the scene in 1970 and, after moving Ceres to the Portobello Road, the brothers started up Harmony Foods in very small premises, soon swelled by their first five-ton import of organic brown rice. Two years and two premises later Harmony Foods was wholesaling these new natural foods, in bulk and in packets, to shops and distributors throughout the UK and in several European countries. Their peanut butter was the best that Britain had ever tasted.
Together, the brothers catered the first Glastonbury Festival, the Isle of Wight, Phun City and other legendary events celebrating hippie culture. Their food was affordable, it tasted good and people felt the extra energy and vitality. More happy customers. Craig was now setting up Ceres Bakery, the first dedicated 100% wholemeal and sugar-free bakery in the nation. He sure had problems getting pastry cooks to work without white flour, sugar or butter. But customers came from all over for the best wholegrain bread in Britain.
Between 1971 and 1978, Gregory and Craig were involved as their father Kenneth published pioneering magazine Seed, the Journal of Organic Living. Just retired, Ken had published a radical magazine in Vietnam for GI’s, called Grunt Free Press – whilst working at a high level for the US Air Force (and telling his son what his team had learned about the Viet Cong diet). Now he was to publish Britain’s first magazine dedicated to promoting a holistic attitude and the joys of natural living. Seed also pointed out the perils in the national diet. What’s wrong with sugar, refined starches, fast foods, food additives, milk and dairy? Seed was telling us back in the 1970’s. It changed a lot of lives.
Gregory ran Harmony Foods for the next 12 years, expanding at such a rate that by 1982 it was in its sixth premises, shifting hundreds of tons of wholesome foods weekly, and experiencing growing pains – serious ones. It was not good, and complicated. Grounded at home for a few months with hepatitis, Gregory came up with a product idea designed to re-vitalize the company – creating and christening the original VegeBurger and registering the trade mark.
To avoid straining Harmony’s stretched resources, the VegeBurger was designed to be fully out-sourced and overhead-free,. Neither bank nor investors thought much of this odd idea, knowing that 90% of new product launches fail. Gregory was so committed to the VegeBurger that he jumped the storm-tossed corporate ship to develop it himself as a solo product, passing Harmony/Whole Earth Foods fully into brother Craig’s capable hands. Greg’s new company was called Realeat.
Run as a virtual business from his spare bedroom, VegeBurger became a nationwide success overnight, and a regular in the news. Mixing and packing and storing and shifting was all done elsewhere, with Gregory’s time spent on marketing and promotion. He commissioned an annual Gallup Survey on Briton’s attitudes to meat-eating, which then provided the only data on vegetarian numbers and growth – identifying young women as the hotspot. Many became vegetarians or greatly reduced the amount of meat they ate once they realized that it was ok – that lots of other people felt the same way about eating flesh.
Soon reaching sales of 250,000 burgers per week, VegeBurger identified and established a vegetarian grocery market, paving the way for its future growth and development. After six years of happy growth at Realeat, it was time to move on – before it all got too complicated. Gregory sold VegeBurger and retired from the food industry, three months before his 40th birthday.
Craig developed the successful Whole Earth organic brand out of the ailing Harmony Foods, and later went on to chair the Soil Association and famously develop Green & Blacks organic chocolates with his wife Jo Fairley. He is now at the forefront of carbon sequestration that builds healthy soil, with new company Carbon Gold.
After two years’ installment on his retirement, Gregory’s unbridled fun came to an end, and a new beginning, after Kiwi artist Howie Cooke introduced him to new science chaos theory. In these new theories of chaos and complexity he saw an important message that had little to do with science – one that easily might be overlooked. It became his mission to nudge the knowledge of chaos theory beyond the halls of academe, into the consciousness of the general public.
A shop was called for, and in late 1990 Gregory opened Strange Attractions – the world’s only shop ever dedicated to chaos theory. At the time nobody was making any products that displayed or utilized the beautiful images to be found with fractal structures. Countless hours were spent traveling through fractal universes on his computer, which churned through the night processing the gwodzillions of calculations needed for deep-dive poster resolution.
Over the next couple years, Gregory designed hundreds and published hundreds of thousands of fractally-adorned postcards, posters, t-shirts, jigsaw puzzles, mugs, etc. Then, trading as chaOs worKs, he began licensing pictures and designs to larger publishers, to photo libraries and for other uses including fashion fabrics by Space Tribe. This took his images to countless millions around the world, as they appeared in major magazines, on book covers, posters, t-shirts, jigsaw puzzles, clock faces and countless other applications. See the fractal gallery.
Though no great money-spinner of an enterprise, the Strange Attractions shop quickly and unexpectedly became a focus point for many of those involved in the evolving ‘alternative scene’ that turned the 90’s, as someone put it, into “the 60’s standing on their feet.” They’d seen these strange patterned images before, during consciousness expanding journeys. Gregory was swept back into the turbulent edge of the culture – and to lots of wonderful and unlicensed parties, as well as dramatic and theatrical direct action events around the country. He saw these activities as inspirational examples of self-organizing chaos at work, arising from a culture in favour of experimenting with new ways of living (pro-testing).
After a few years of being an artist, successful but not satisfied, Gregory recognized that the inner message of chaos theory would be better served by words than pictures. So it was time to write a book, pursuing a lifelong love that had always been confined to letters, articles, leaflets, press releases or the sides of food packets. In 1998, after four years of writing and distilling, he was ready to publish Uncommon Sense – the State is Out of Date, expressing within it the vitally important lessons that chaos theory has for how we live our lives and govern our society – inseparable concepts. Writing this book changed Gregory’s life, as well as that of tens of thousands of its readers. It went online a few years later.
Gregory is well-known to many, having been involved in various areas of emergent culture from the Sixties onwards. He was immersed in the non-violent (‘fluffy’) direct action movements that developed in early Nineties UK, was at most of Reclaim the Streets’ outlandish events, and visited action sites all over the country – being carried off one by four sheriffs (No-M11 Campaign 1:13:10) and arrested at another (Dead Woman’s Bottom).
Gregory Sams has been to many parties and festivals, getting in up to five in one weekend when he was actively marketing Uncommon Sense. His prominence on the psy trance party dance floors of the world resulted in him being featured in a video/DVD by Omananda and Billy Rood titled Liquid Crystal Vision, which has been enjoyed by countless thousands online and at the worldwide events and festivals where it has been screened.
The spark igniting Gregory’s next book came at a beach party in Goa with the first rising Sun of 2000, and powered his work for the next decade. After seven years of research and thinking and writing and rewriting it was published worldwide by Red Wheel/Weiser in 2009. In Sun of gOd – Discover the Self-Organizing Consciousness that Underlies Everything, we are re-introduced to the character who stars in the movie of life and take a fresh look at the familiar world we know, in the light of a living Sun. The idea is not as bizarre as it first sounds and was, indeed, once the intuitive default mode for humanity, whevever you lived in the world. Perhaps viewing the source of the light of life as an accidental light bulb in the sky better qualifies as bizarre.
Since Uncommon Sense – The State Is Out Of Date was published in 1998 it has become ever more apparent that the apparatus of the state is failing us, whatever color of the political spectrum it chooses to wear. As disenchantment with the state becomes widespread, technology is adding incredible new tools of social connectivity, which can both trigger and rebuild the community instincts that build government from the bottom up. Gregory realized that his first book had come of age in 2012 and devoted a year to its upgrade and re-edit. It came out in 2014, retitled The State Is Out of Date – We Can Do It Better, in Kindle or paperback. The publisher is Disinformation Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser ISBN: 978-1-938875-06-9
Since 2009, Gregory has been giving live talks and writing articles related to both of his book’s arenas as well as giving video and audio interviews. YouTube channel listings can be seen here, or just search – “gregory sams” video – for a wider selection.