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New Hope Natural Media Inducts Honorees into ‘Hall of Legends’
Thirteen esteemed individuals from various sectors of the natural products industry were inducted into the New Hope Natural Media Hall of Legends at the first annual ceremony in Anaheim, California, on March 8, 2012. The event took place in conjunction with the NutraCon’s NutrAward reception at Natural Products Expo West/Engredea. Engredea, like Expo West, is an annual event that showcases product innovations in the natural food, beverage, dietary supplement, and cosmetic industries.

“There are a lot of lifetime achievement awards; there are a lot of champion awards, but there’s no singular place where all of the people who have created this industry are co-recognized,” said Len Monheit, the executive director of Engredea (oral communication, March 20, 2012). “So there was an opportunity to create a Hall of Fame, a Hall of Legends, which didn’t exist, gather those individuals and their contributions and help educate newer folks in the industry about where the industry has come from.”

When narrowing down the list of potential Legends, Monheit and his colleagues at New Hope considered individuals from vastly different backgrounds. “We determined that it needed to cover the entire industry and it needed to be anyone that has impacted this industry that we get our livelihoods from and have such passion for,” said Monheit. “We really tried to make it a rounded group.”

Honorees include the following individuals:1

  • Jeffrey S. Bland, PhD, chief science officer of Metagenics
  • Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council (ABC)
  • John Carlson, PhD, co-founder of the nutritional supplement company JR Carlson Labs, who passed away in October 2011
  • Steve Demos, founder of WhiteWave Foods (makers of Silk® soymilk products, now part of Dean Foods) and NextFoods
  • Annette Dickinson, PhD, president of Dickinson Consulting, LLC, and former president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a leading industry trade association
  • Norman R. Farnsworth,PhD, internationally respected pharmacognosist at the University of Illinois-Chicago and co-founder of ABC, who passed away in September 2011
  • Michael Funk, chair and co-founder of United Natural Foods, Inc., the largest wholesale distributor of natural foods and dietary supplements to natural food stores and grocery stores
  • Sandy Gooch, founder of Mrs. Gooch’s, an early, pioneering chain of natural grocery stores in the Los Angeles area (purchased by Whole Foods Market)
  • Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading producer of organic yogurt
  • Loren Israelsen, executive director of the United Natural Products Alliance and a key architect of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994
  • Bob MacLeod and Steve Byckiewicz, founders of Kiss My Face, a pioneering natural cosmetics company
  • Elwood Richard, founder of NOW Foods

As part of the ceremony’s educational mission, a mobile “Hall of Legends” will be on display at all New Hope expos and events.

“I’ve been very, very fortunate to know some of these people, but there are a lot of new people in this industry that don’t know the evolution and the commitment and the passion that has created the opportunity for us to work in this industry,” said Monheit.

Despite their varied backgrounds, the 13 inductees are united in their passion for the natural products industry. “[What they have in common] is a desire to do good; a desire to build something: greater health, more sustainability,” Monheit continued. “[It’s] a commitment right from the core of the person.”

“All of us are doing what we want to do,” said Blumenthal. “We are following our own bliss, creating our own paths, making up the rules as we move forward. It is a true gift and privilege to be able to be your own boss doing something that is new and different.”

Monheit described the atmosphere in Anaheim for the inaugural ceremony. “Watching and listening to the response of the crowd and the excitement and the energy … was astounding and very rewarding,” he said. “I think you could feel the passion; I think that the people who had a hint of what this industry [is] about came away with much more of a connection to its origins and to its spirit and commitment.”