August 5th, 2007 14:30 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with George Mateljan, Author of The World's Healthiest Foods
George Mateljan has had a lifelong devotion to using the power of food as a key to controlling and maintaining vibrant good health and longevity. For over 30 years he has been dedicated to learning all the taste and health benefits of food and to showing people how to enjoy the good taste and excitement of healthy foods prepared in ways that are quick, easy and convenient. He recognizes that in order to eat the right foods on a regular basis, the preparation of those foods must fit the individual tastes and lifestyles of people today. So most recently, he has applied his over 30 years of experience, along with his energies and resources to establishing a not-for-profit Foundation to provide this information to everyone who wants to know what to eat and how to prepare it.
George`s Lifelong Love of Food Began at Childhood
From the time George was five years old, his favorite room in the house was the kitchen, where he watched his mother lovingly spend hours preparing meals for the family. He still vividly remembers seeing a bowl full of ingredients transformed into dough that rose as if by magic. Then, after the dough went into the oven, he loved the look and taste of the golden loaves of warm bread the dough became.
By watching food being prepared for many years, he learned to appreciate the way each season brought forth its own special foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. In the spring and summer, there were sweet juicy apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums and many types of melons. In the fall, there were corn, pumpkins and colorful varieties of squash. George`s favorite times were the holidays when he helped prepare many special dishes.
How George Learned the Secrets of Preparing Delicious Meals
After George was grown, he continued to have a passion for food that literally sent him to the ends of the earth to learn about it. That`s because as he tasted many different kinds of cuisines, he realized that different parts of the world have different ingredients and different ways of preparing them. So he earned a certificate studying French cuisine at the renowned La Varenne cooking school near Paris. He studied Italian cuisine at Guiliano Bugialli`s cooking school in Florence. And he went to the Gourmet`s Oxford in England. In all, George studied the cuisines of over 80 countries to learn the secrets of healthy, flavorful cooking.
George Turned His Knowledge into Delicious Healthy Foods
When George returned to the U.S. he was disappointed that he couldn`t find really nutritious, good tasting and convenient prepared foods for himself and his family. He recognized there was a need for these kinds of products, so in 1970 he created a company called "Health Valley Foods." It was the first company to produce healthy convenient prepared foods in the United States. At first, George`s company created just a few healthy products, but as interest and response grew, so did the number of good tasting healthy products his company offered. As time went on, Health Valley produced thousands of convenient products that were packed with nutrition and flavor, and completely free from the white flour, refined sugar, hydrogenated fats, excessive salt, chemical preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, nitrates and nitrites, sulfites, MSG, synthetic vitamins and minerals, artificial sweeteners and irradiated ingredients that are standard in the processed food industry. Even George`s packaging was innovative. Long before there were regulations requiring it, every Health Valley product had its full nutritional content plainly shown on the label. He used only lead-free cans for his soups, chilis and beans. Although none of these costly innovations were legally required when George introduced them, George was very willing to sacrifice profit for principle. As he put it, "Most companies were created to make a profit; Health Valley was created to make a difference."
George Helped Others to Make Healthy Foods
As if to prove his point that Health Valley was created to make a difference, rather than a profit, George was always very helpful when others wanted to be part of the healthy foods industry. When Health Valley`s success encouraged others to establish health food companies, George didn`t treat them as competitors, but as people who shared his dedication to making good tasting healthy foods available to more people. He was one of the leaders of the National Nutritional Foods Association (known as the NNFA), which is the professional organization of the natural products industry. He served as the NNFA`s Chairman of Educational Programs and as a member of the Organic Foods Committee. He helped make possible industry programs, which directly help the public, including the TruLabel Program, which lets the public feel confident about the fidelity and clarity of natural foods labels. In addition to being an essential part of the NNFA, George did a number of other things to support others who want to further the cause of healthy foods. For example, when organic farming was initially being introduced and there wasn`t much of a market for the organic fruits and vegetables because of the higher costs, George not only purchased and used organic foods in Health Valley products, he also helped support the growers until the demand grew. Because of George`s commitment to organic foods, Health Valley used over 50 million pounds of it each year in a variety of products, including cereals, soups and cookies. George also supported Bastyr University, the country`s leading accredited educational institution devoted to the learning of health and the benefits of healthy eating and living. In recognition of George`s many contributions, the NNFA honored him as the first recipient of the "President`s Award" in 1994.
George`s Next Step in Promoting Healthy, Delicious, Convenient Foods
In 1996, George Mateljan sold Health Valley Foods because he felt that after over 25 years he had already inspired a number of others to establish companies producing convenient, good tasting, health food products. He believed that it was time to turn his energies and resources toward the next phase of helping people enjoy eating healthy foods. He thought about the fact that he had published five cookbooks celebrating the joys and benefits of health eating, including the bestsellers: Cooking without Fat and Baking Without Fat, which showed how to prepare good tasting foods without adding oil during the heating or cooking process. Oil was only added in moderation after cooking or baking to add moisture and flavor to recipes. Millions of people read and used George`s books, which means he was able to share the many benefits of his discoveries and experience with others. He recognized that these books have served as a reference point for many people who are looking for good tasting ways to eat healthy. He decided to apply the idea of providing a reference for people looking for good tasting, convenient ways to eat health foods and establish a not-for-profit Foundation with that sole purpose. That`s why his latest healthy gift is The George Mateljan Foundation for the World`s Healthiest Foods. The Foundation is committed to providing the latest scientific information about the foods and nutrients needed for good health. But equally important, you`ll not only find out which foods are the world`s healthiest, you can also get personalized information about how to prepare those foods so they fit your timetable and lifestyle. You`ll find recipes and food preparation methods that make the World`s Healthiest Foods quick and easy to prepare, and also taste delicious. George welcomes you to interact with him and the Foundation by asking questions, sharing ideas and even supporting the cause of the Foundation.
For More Information:" www.whfoods.org