Frank Ford (farmer)

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Jesse Frank Ford
Born January 16, 1933
Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas, US
Died February 2, 2011(2011-02-02) (aged 78)
Fallbrook, San Diego County
Residence Irvine, Orange County
Occupation Farmer; businessman; activist
Political party Democratic

(1) Ford was the chief advertiser for the natural foods industry, as it was developing during the 1960s and 1970s.

(2) Ford has worn many hats: Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets commander, founder of Arrowhead mills, social and political activist, environmentalist, and organizer for the Campus Crusade for Christ.

(3) In 2008, health problems forced Ford to withdraw from a bid to unseat Republican U.S. Representative Darrell Issa in California.

Jesse Frank Ford, known as Frank Ford (January 16, 1933 – February 2, 2011), was a Texas farmer and health-foods advocate who in 1960 founded Arrowhead mills, the largest natural foods wholesaler in the United States. The company is based in his native Hereford, the seat of Deaf Smith County west of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. Arrowhead Mills removes impurities from corn and wheat and farms without pesticides.

Personal background[edit]

Ford was the son of Jesse Ford (1894–1969).[1] As a teenager, Ford worked in a grocery store in Hereford. He graduated in 1955 from Texas A&M University in College Station with a bachelor of science degree in agronomy. He was commander of the TAMU Corps of Cadets and was active in the Campus Crusade for Christ and its related Athletes in Action. Himself nondenominational, Ford supported the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and advocated a "less-is-more" approach to living and spirituality.[2]

Arrowhead Mills[edit]

Arrowhead Mills operates four warehouses, containing over 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) of storage space, and holds tons of food for shipment to a nationwide network of distributors.[3]

Ford sought to provide large-scale stone grinding of grain and to maintain natural soil nutrition. He took the view that all farming should first maintain and then improve the soil. He served as chairman of the trade association, the National Nutritional Food Association.[2] During the formative years of Arrowhead Mills, Ford personally did most of the growing, grinding, sacking, trucking, warehousing, shipping, and bookkeeping. Slowly, the investment of time, money, and energy began to pay dividends from the increased national awareness of organic foods and sound nutrition.[3] Ford also was an advertising spokesman for the natural food industry during the 1960s and 1970s.[4]

Ford said that he is convinced that "the natural-foods movement is [not] over the hill at all. In fact, I think it's just coming into its own. The rest of the country is finally beginning to realize that we have to conserve our resources and utilize them correctly . . . that whole foods are best and natural growing methods are really the most efficient."[5]

Social activist[edit]

Ford claimed to represent the "common man" in public affairs. A labor activist, he tried to pay higher wages at Arrowhead Mills than other such companies offer. He never drew a salary from the company that was more than three times that of his lowest-paid employee.[2] Ford was a spokesman for small farmers through his position on an agricultural advisory committee in Washington, D.C. He helped to formulate plans for sewage recycling projects.[3] In the 1980s, he led the opposition to an attempt by the United States Department of Energy to locate a controversial nuclear waste site in Deaf Smith County, an action which Ford claimed would have imperiled Arrowhead Mills as well as the pivotal Ogallala Aquifer, the source of most West Texas water. The site was instead located at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.[2]

Three books[edit]

Ford authored three books:

  1. New Harvest, a collection of his reflections and verse on national spiritual rejuvenation
  2. Pack to Nature: Nutrition Made Easy in the Home or in the Woods (both from Harvest Publishing Company of Fort Worth). The third edition was retitled and released as The Simpler Life Cookbook-From Arrowhead Mills in 1974. Harvest Publishing Company.
  3. The Deaf Smith Country Cookbook, available through Macmillan.[3]

Democratic politician[edit]

In 1999, Ford sold Arrowhead Mills to the Hain Celestial Group of Melville, New York, which maintains its public relations office in Boulder, Colorado. Arrowhead offers 220 items.[2]

He thereafter retired to Irvine, in Orange County in southern California. In 2008, he filed as a Democrat candidate for the District 49 seat in the United States House of Representatives to oppose the conservative Republican incumbent Darrell Issa of Vista in northern San Diego County. Ford withdrew from the primary because of health considerations. Issa defeated Democrat Robert "Bob" Hamilton of Fallbrook, also in San Diego County, in the November 4 general election.[6]