My Father & "Food as Medicine"

May 22, 2024


From birth to about 4th grade, I (Kerry) grew up on the Standard American Diet (SAD!).  Being one of 7 kids, my industrious mother had created a general order for meal-time, where we always knew what we would be enjoying for dinner that night.  Burgers on Fridays.  Pizza on Sundays.  Spaghetti fit in there somewhere.  Grilled Cheese too.

And then one day, it all changed.

It was circa 1986 in the suburbs of the blue-collared city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  A giant 18-wheeler backed down the driveway of our quiet street.  Beep, beep, beep.  It had arrived from Neshaminy Valley, a small rural town in Pennsylvania.  It came carrying food.  And droves of it. My brothers, sisters and I obediently lined up and unloaded the truck.   Cases of blue corn chips, not-dogs, nori, kelp, adzuki beans, brown rice, umeboshi plums, daikon, and unsweetened apple sauce filed out of the vehicle.

As an unaware 9 year old, I hadn’t realized that my father’s mental and physical health had been struggling and deteriorating in his 40’s.  After seeing a handful of Western doctors, who had prescribed him a variety of drugs, my dad had turned to “food as medicine”.  And we were now store-housing, un-pronounceable food, to “enjoy” in place of spaghetti dinners. 

A product of a WW2 pilot, my father had learned the value of discipline, and he was dead set on teaching it to his kids.  And the discipline of eating healthy was a part of that.

So, from then on, my siblings and I grew up on a macrobiotic diet.  While we were sure to sneak Turkey Tetrazzini at a friend’s home here and there and a couple of doughnuts at church when they were gloriously served, our main diet was built around brown rice, fish and green veggies like kale and seaweed.

Many years later, when I was confronting my own health challenges, my father’s view around “food as medicine” came to light.  The pains in my joints, the brain fog, the upset tummy – I knew where to look. 

My dad is 78 years old now.  He still works on his businesses, goes on 3 mile daily walks and is quick-witted.  I am grateful, especially on this Father’s Day.  He is a visionary.  I love to wander through a natural grocery store and see the brands I grew up eating, unknown at the time, that are now sitting prominently on the shelves, enjoying mainstream awareness and consumption.  For as grumbly as I was a child having to embarrassingly eat blue corn chips over Doritos, I know now that he was right on point.

And, hmm, interesting I’ve become the co-founder of a healthy consumer packaged goods company, huh?


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