1 Visionary, 100 Years And 1600 Health Stores - Healthy Does It Skip to content

1 Visionary, 100 Years And 1600 Health Stores

Everything has it’s beginnings, and the heritage of UK health stores started at 159 Corporation Street, Birmingham, in the summer of 1898 – the vision of James Henry Cook.

JHC… The man with the vision: But why?

This visionary was a principled man, passionate about issues of that day such as temperance (no alcohol), votes for women and Vegetarianism. He founded the ‘Vegetarian Food Depot’. This soon began to thrive, and became a hub for local vegetarians and those wanting food to support health. And so, after a name change to ‘Pitman’s Health Food Store’, in honour of Sir Isaac Pitman, made famous for developing shorthand, and a well-known vegetarian.

A mind for innovation and education

From 1898, James Henry Cook published his Pitman Health Food Store catalogue. By 1931, James Henry Cook was a successful health food innovator, with many different product lines made by his health food manufacturing company, using products from all around the globe. He shared his expertise publishing books about how to run health stores.

True to his values

James Henry Cook was a vegan for most of his life, and believed in healthy eating based on the philosophy of ‘Nature Cure’. He died, at the age of 74, leaving behind a legacy and the foundations of the natural product trade that we know today.

The original health store: A look inside just after 1900…

Pitmans products

Typical wholefoods: Dried fruits, nuts, pulses, cereals and grains.

Fruits: 30 varieties, either bottled, in syrup or crystallised, from all around the world

  • prunes mostly from California
  • dried apricots from South Africa and Turkey
  • dates from Iraq and Iran,
  • figs also from Turkey (and raisins, which could also come from Spain)
  • Sultanas from Australia
  • Currants from Greece

….plus: Allison’s blancmange, cocoa and custard powder and, their famous flour.

..and then: The Mapleton Company, who were nut experts, bringing them into the UK from all around the world, such as hazelnuts from Turkey, peanuts from China and Africa, pine nuts from Italy, as well as all kinds of foods especially for vegetarians.

For vegetarians: The brother of Mr Kellog (of cereal fame) developed many vegetarian products, including Bromose, Nuttolene, Peanut Butter (and other nut butters), Granose Flakes

For digestive health: Shredded wheat

For health and wellbeing: Rowntrees cocoa

Supplements: Charcoal tablets

From these visionary and simple beginnings, there are now over 1600 stores across the UK, run by people with a diverse range of convictions, purpose, business focus and practitioner experience. Collectively, they work together to support your health.

Click here to find your nearest local health store.

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Healthy Does It Features Writer

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