Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., Health Food Pioneer, Dies

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Award-winning health food advocate, author and founder of Natural Gourmet Institute died on April 10, 2015

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Annemarie Colbin. PhD, one of the early pioneers of the health-food movement, died on Friday, April 10 in Denver, Colorado, of a brain hemorrhage. Her daughter and other family were by her side.

In 1977, well before whole foods were mainstream and the connection between diet and health was readily accepted, Colbin founded the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI) in New York City, now the oldest health-supportive culinary school in the US. While many of its professional alumni are household names in the food industry -- such as Dirt Candy founder Amanda Cohen; eco-chef, food justice activist, and author Bryant Terry; and award-winning chef Chloe Coscarelli -- Colbin also taught home cooking techniques to celebrities like John Lennon and Mandy Patinkin.

Stefanie Sacks, NGI alum, author of “What the Fork Are You Eating?” and host of Stirring the Pot Radio says, “Annemarie Colbin was the most pivotal part of my journey -- to do my life’s work. She was truly at the forefront of addressing this devastating edible conundrum and, because of her, things are now starting to shift.”

Colbin authored or co-authored multiple books, including “Food and Healing”, “The Natural Gourmet”, “The Book of Whole Meals”, and “The Whole Food Guide to Strong Bones”; her work has been featured in The New York Times, Elle, Good Housekeeping, Natural Health, Longevity, and New Age Journal. She won numerous awards including a national IACP/Seagram Book Award and the Avon/Small Business Administration “Women of Enterprise” award.

“The idea that food can profoundly affect our health has now taken root in the mainstream,” said Colbin in a 2011 Huffington Post interview (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pooja-r-mottl/healing-yourself-with-del_b_533006.html). “It was considered an odd idea forty years ago… In 50-100 years, the NGI may be obsolete, because by then everybody will know this information and it will be part of the zeitgeist.”

That same year, Colbin was granted a Fearless Food Advocate Award for her work “as a leader in the realm of whole foods and health-supportive cooking.” Green Guerillas, who issued the award, said it was in honor of her “commitment to convincing generations of culinary professionals and everyday people they should care about what’s on their plate.”

Although NGI is extremely welcoming of vegetarians and vegans, the curriculum is not exclusively vegetarian, and neither was Colbin. She referred to her work as “natural foods cooking,” and summed up her philosophy in seven principles: good food, she said should be seasonal, local, whole, traditional, balanced, fresh and delicious. Although this philosophy is deceptively simple, it is grounded in the work she did to earn a Ph.D. in holistic nutrition, with a dissertation that incorporated systems theory, complexity theory, chaos theory and the theory of relativity into an integrated theory of nutrition.

She is survived by her two daughters, her son-in-law, three stepchildren, two grandchildren and two stepgrandchildren.

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Jacqui Kauffman
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