I was born on a farm in Nebraska in 1944, a few miles south of Sioux City.
After obtaining a B.Sc Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania I moved to London in 1966 with the aim of opening a macrobiotic restaurant. In 1967, after a brief career in the ethnic fashion and import business (Afghan coats, Indian posters, Tunisian kaftans, Tibetan shoulder bags, hand-dyed silks) I founded, in partnership with my brother Gregory, Whole Earth Foods, a leading organic food company, expanding from its original organic macrobiotic restaurant ‘Seed’ into retail, wholesaling and manufacturing with the Harmony, Ceres Bakery and Whole Earth brands.
I’m the author of four books: About Macrobiotics (1972), The Brown Rice Cookbook(1982, new edition 1992), The Little Food Book (1993) and, with Josephine Fairley, The Story of Green & Black’s. The Sams family (our Dad Ken, Gregory and me) published “Seed Magazine – The Journal of Organic Living” from 1972-1977. I was Hon. Treasurer of the Soil Association from 1990 to 2001 and was Chairman from 2001-2007. I then chaired Soil Association Certification Ltd from 2007-2009 and continue as a director.
In partnership with my wife Josephine Fairley I founded Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate in 1991, an award-winning organic and fair trade confectionery brand whose Maya Gold chocolate was the first product to carry the Fairtrade Mark. I grow most of my own vegetables organically in our potager garden in Hastings and on my smallholding nearby, where we also have a watercress bed and woodland. I’m now President of Green & Black’s Ltd – a non-executive advisory role. I am co-founder and Executive Chairman of Carbon Gold Ltd, a carbon sequestration business based on the use of biochar as a soil improver. Biochar is emerging as a major tool for mitigating climate change and restoring our planet’s degraded soils. In addition I serve as a director of Duchy Originals Ltd, as Chair of Slow Food UK and of Gusto Organic, the organic soft drink makers. Josephine and I host the Wellington Square Natural Health Centre in Hastings, a venue for alternative and complementary therapies.