Aveline Kushi, a leader of the health food movement who helped found one of the nation's first natural food stores, has died. She was 78.
Kushi was diagnosed with cancer of the cervix about nine years ago. She died early Tuesday at her home in Brookline, Mass.
Family spokeswoman Christine Akbar 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.
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.
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.
In 1966, Aveline Kushi opened Erewhon, a shop in Brookline, Mass., named for a utopian novel by British philosopher Samuel Butler. Shortly afterward, she opened a branch in Los Angeles. She sold the company in 1983.
Born Tomoko Yokohama in Yokota, Japan, Kushi 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."
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 Massachusetts school moved to Becket, Mass., in 1990.
Besides her husband, Kushi is survived by four sons, 13 grandchildren and seven siblings. A daughter died of cancer in 1995.