Patricia Bragg, a living testament to healthful habits

Patricia Bragg at her organic farm, which is the headquarters for Bragg Live Foods in Goleta, Calif.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

The name Bragg has been on health food store shelves since Paul Bragg opened shop in Hollywood more than a century ago. Patricia Bragg, his daughter-in-law who became his adopted daughter after she and his son divorced, carries on the business selling dozens of products, including salad dressings, seasonings, drinks and, the best-known of them, Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Clearly proud of her health, she offers that she’s 5 feet tall and weighs 95 pounds, but she won’t tell her age, saying only that she’s in her 80s. Her conversation, from her farm near Santa Barbara, is peppered with the stars past and present who have used her products, from Jack LaLanne to Katy Perry.

How do you start your day?

I wake up full of energy, because I have recharging sleep. I do my deep breathing and about five minutes of stationary jogging, and I do my windmill exercises … and this brings energy throughout my body. I’m barefoot probably 60% of the day. I have strong feet to carry me through life. I do some wall or floor push-ups.


And what was your diet like growing up?

Eighty percent of my food is fresh organic veggies, fruits, raw organic nuts, raisins, dates. And I thrive on that. And then I loved baked squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams. I’m big on homemade soups with lentils. We’d practically always have a pot of soup on the stove. Any time we wanted a bowl of soup, there it was. And old-fashioned corn bread. We always had our own bees. We had our own honey.

And the other 20%?

For dessert I might have a beautiful date, a California date with a few little pine nuts. Or I might have some guavas, or maybe some fresh papaya or fresh pineapple. And I can make beautiful apple pies with organic whole-grain flours. I can make it with graham flour.

You say apple cider vinegar has been used for health since the days of Hippocrates. Tell us how people use it today.

It detoxes, cleanses and heals. People who have dandruff put it directly on their scalp two hours before they shampoo. Put it over your salads, your veggies, your greens. You can put it in your smoothies. If you have a sore throat, you gargle with it.

I have five glasses a day: 2 to 3 teaspoons in 8 ounces of water.

How do you keep your mind healthy?

If you don’t use it, you lose it. Bridge, puzzles. I average a book a day. I have a library of more than 2,000 books. ... I love autobiographies. I love to know what makes the great brains of the world tick and operate.