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I attended a virtual honoring of Albert Lusk this week. Many old friends were on the call – all touched by Albert, so many of them were instrumental in the growth of organic food and agriculture.
We were young and audacious – believing we could change the world. Albert showed us it was possible with grit and grind, love and generosity. Dreams do come true, but it takes a village – and a Regenerative state of mind.
The things we believed in once were very true – is it possible that some of those beliefs no longer serve the essence of sustainable organic agriculture?
My profession and personal life have been interwoven and influenced by Albert Lusk over the decades. He was driven by his passion for organic agriculture and founded Albert’s Organics in 1980 when Whole Foods had one location.
I was working at Community Foods, a Natural Food Store in Santa Cruz, in the early 1980s. When Albert began delivering organic produce from Southern CA, our store expanded its organic offerings.
He came to be a friend and a mentor, sometimes a competitor, and he married my good friend, Claris Ritter.
Over time his company became the largest certified organic wholesale distributor of organically grown fresh produce in the United States. It was purchased by United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) in 1998. A few years later, UNFI purchased my company, Source Organic. I became part of the Albert’s Organic family and carried on his legacy there.
Albert retired and moved to Costa Rica. He was fond of hiking to a wild waterfall in Braulio Carillo National Park.
In late September, he went missing with his car as the only clue to his whereabouts near this densely forested region.
While the search is not over, the story of this organic pioneer can be heard from the many produce veterans who helped him build a nationwide organic produce network.