GROWING FROM SEED
The early history
It is difficult to imagine just how bare was the British cupboard and diet of the early Sixties. You could count London’s Arabic, Thai and Greek restaurants, combined, on the fingers of one hand. The only take-away food was fish ‘n chips and if you wanted anything resembling a bottle of real wine you’d have to look hard for a specialist Italian grocer, also the only place you’d find olive oil apart from in the chemist (for ear cleaning). There were a handful of Indian and Italian restaurants. Words like “natural foods” “wholemeal” and “organically grown” were not in the language and very few had ever met a vegan.
In a 1965 health food shop, you could find but of handful of what we now expect to see in any healthy foods retailer. There were a few things like rolled oats, white basmati rice, kidney beans and cornflakes made with brown sugar – but none of it was organic. For that you’d have to travel to Wholefoods in Baker Street, the only retail shop in the country selling organic foods, grown by their farmer members.
Gregory and his brother Craig introduced a wide selection of new foodstuffs into the British diet, from brown rice to soya sauce; soba noodles to seaweeds; sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds; popcorn to (edible) peanut butter. There was Seed Restaurant, Sprout, and later Green Genes café, the first places to ever serve brown rice; Ceres Grain Shop, the country’s first natural food shop; Ceres Bakery, the first dedicated wholemeal one in the UK; Ceres Bookshop, selling a wholefood, organic, and esoteric selection of reading matter. Then came Harmony Foods, with an expanding range of natural foods, many of them organically grown, which were packaged and sold to health foods shops around the country, and to newly opened natural food shops such as Infinity Foods in Brighton, Community Foods in Camden Town, On the 8th Day in Manchester, Realfoods in Edinburgh, and a few others. Harmony developed into Whole Earth Foods in the early 1980’s, which thrives to this day, https://www.wholeearthfoods.com/our-story/
In 1968/9, Gregory single-handedly put together three issues of Harmony Magazine, for which John Lennon dedicated an 8-frame cartoon. Crudely duplicated and assembled in his bedroom, it was the first publication in Europe dedicated to organic and green ideas for living. In 1971, with their recently-retired and highly skilled father Ken Sams at the helm, the brothers took part in publishing SEED, the Journal of Organic Living which ran for nearly seven years, dispensing monthly news and information about what would come to be termed “green consciousness.”
More information on the story of wholefoods from my brother Craig’s site at: https://www.craigsams.com