As a pioneer in the health movement, Bragg Live Food Products provides its customers with a diverse lineup of organic and natural food and nutrition products that enable people to live a healthy lifestyle. For over one hundred years, the company has offered superior quality products, adhering to the philosophy that, “You are what you eat, drink, breathe, think, say, and do!”
Bragg Live Food Products legacy in the health industry has stood the test of time. The company was founded by Dr. Paul C. Bragg, known as the “Father of America’s Health Movement.” As a survivor of tuberculosis, Dr. Bragg dedicated his life to educating people about health and wellness.
Dr. Bragg was a true pioneer of promoting healthy living during the 20th century, promoting the benefits of purified water, juices, herbal teas and organic foods in the United States. He also promoted his message of healthy living to his followers by creating a radio show in the 1920s and a television show years later. The television program, named “Health and Happiness” was a five-day-a- week, half-hour show comprised of exercise time, healthy recipes and visual demonstrations. The show also featured famous people who shared their health and happiness secrets with the viewers.
Back in 1912, Dr. Bragg was also known for opening the United States’ first Health Food Store in Los Angeles; this is where Bragg Live Food Products got its start. At the time, many of the natural foods eaten by Americans were becoming refined and processed as a result of “modernization” and new food engineering methods developed by the big food companies; thus the need to provide affordable health foods and products became a driving factor in the creation of Bragg Live Food Products. Dr. Bragg became concerned about the future health of Americans as a result of these overly processed and devitalized foods. He was one of the first people to recognize that making healthy food products affordable was critical to encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle. He began working with scientists and nutritionists to develop food products to meet the needs of the human body at reasonable prices. By then, his team was producing a successful line of products, ranging from health drinks and supplements to foods and books that promoted health – and they were available at prices people could afford.
What started as a small health store has grown into a leading international health products company. Over its years in operation, Bragg has produced more than 365 products that emphasize a lifestyle of health and wellness. Today, Bragg has refined that number to over 20 different signature health food products and 10 self-health books that remain bestsellers to this day. Bragg was instrumental in introducing health food products to the American market including herbal teas, health beverages, vitamin drinks, seven-grain cereals and crackers, health cosmetics, health candies, calcium, vitamin and mineral supplements, wheat germ, digestive enzymes from papaya, herbs and kelp seasonings, and amino acids from soybeans.
Dr. Bragg lived up to his message of living a healthy lifestyle by fasting and employing juice therapy and breathing exercises, and he excelled in running, swimming, biking, progressive weight training and mountain climbing. He lived a long, healthy, active and dynamic life until he passed away in 1976.
Dr. Bragg’s daughter, Patricia has carried on the company’s legacy and dedication to teaching the public about healthy lifestyles and has served as the company CEO for over 60 years. As a nutritionist, author, and lecturer, Dr. Patricia Bragg carries her father’s passion. She conducts Health and Fitness Seminars for Women’s, Men’s, Youth and Church Groups throughout the world and promotes Bragg “How-To,” and “Self-Health” books on radio and television talk shows throughout the world. She has served as a nutritionist to celebrity Clint Eastwood for more than 60 years, and has been honored with lifetime achievement awards for her role in America’s health movement.
Dr. John Westerdahl, PhD, MPH, RD, CNS, serves as the Director of Health Science for Bragg Live Food Products and the Director of the Bragg Health Foundation. He spoke to Business in Focus about how Bragg Live Food Products has grown over the years, and about the products the company offers to promote a healthy lifestyle amongst its consumers.
“Bragg is totally devoted to health and wellness,” Dr. Westerdahl says. “Our company has upheld its mission to make healthy foods that support health, prevent disease, and keep people at their optimal health.”
Dr. Bragg agrees. “There is only one way… the healthy way is the right way,” she says. “Our company has not changed because our products emphasize health. Everything we make is organic, healthy, natural.”
The company’s signature products include organic beverages, organic extra virgin olive oil, Bragg Liquid Aminos, seasonings, salad dressings and marinades, and perhaps its most well known product, Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.
Made from organic apples, Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is noted for its quality and health benefits. Certified organic by the USDA, unfiltered, and unpasteurized, Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar has been a staple of Bragg products from the very beginning.
Due to the popularity of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, the company has also introduced flavored drinks with the organic apple cider vinegar as an ingredient, in flavors such as honey, apple cinnamon, concord grape & açai berry, ginger, lime, stevia, and pomegranate-goji berry. “A lot of people drink our apple cider vinegar with water, so we expanded on that to make consumption of the apple cider vinegar more convenient to people,” explains Dr. Westerdahl.
Bragg products have received numerous awards for their health benefits and taste. For example, its Organic Apple Cider Vinegar has been awarded by grocer Whole Foods Magazine Natural Choice Award from 2010 to 2012. It also won a seal of approval from Bon Appetit Magazine in 2012. VegNews awarded its Liquid Aminos the Veggie Award for Best Condiment.
Bragg’s salad dressings have also become popular in the market. For example, its Vinaigrette is a blend of its Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, purified water, organic honey, organic garlic, Bragg Liquid Aminos, organic onion, and organic black pepper. Other flavors include a ginger-sesame blend, the BRAGGBERRY blend (made with Blueberries, Raspberries, Acai Berries, Goji Berries, and Grapes), and a pomegranate vinaigrette.
Bragg Liquid Aminos are a vegetable protein-based seasoning that can be used as an alternative to soy sauce. Made from certified non-GMO soybeans and purified water, the product contains no preservatives, coloring agents, alcohol, gluten, additives or chemicals. The company also has a line of seasonings that can be used on vegetables and meats, many of which are specified for sodium free diets.
Bragg’s innovations in the field have inspired a number of other companies to serve the fast growing health-food and nutrition markets. With the increased interest of people looking after their personal wellness, Bragg Live Food Products has certainly benefited from the boom. “At the turn of the century, a lot of food processing began taking place and there were a lot of changes in ways food was manufactured,” Dr. Westerdahl says. “More refined sugar, white flour, and processed foods [were bring used] and Dr. Bragg said that this would spell a decline in America’s health. And he saw the need for a company that would produce healthy foods. He decided that would be his mission.”
Notably, American fitness and nutritional expert Jack LaLanne (1914-2011) was inspired by one of Dr. Paul Bragg’s lectures after suffering from illness for a number of years as a child. “At first, he didn’t even want to attend the lecture,” Dr. Bragg says. “He wound up sitting on the stage listening to my father and listened intently to him after he said, ‘the whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.”
Other entrepreneurs in the health food field that were inspired by Dr. Paul C. Bragg’s lectures include Joe Columbe, founder of specialty grocer Trader Joe’s, and David Shakarian, the founder of health and nutrition retailer General Nutrition Center (GNC). “My father made good on his dedication to being a health crusader and inspired other people to go into the health business,” says Dr. Bragg.
Dr. Westerdahl believes that increased interest in healthier alternatives has made Bragg’s mission more important than ever. “We’ve had tremendous growth due to the growing interest in healthy lifestyles,” he explains. “A lot of grocery chains have health sections now, integrating those products along with regular products as an alternative to traditional foods. Today, there is more and more interest in keeping in good health, especially with baby boomers getting older now and wanting to preserve health and longevity. So there is a growing interest in fitness and exercise plus a growing interest in eating healthy.
“There is still a battle with other companies that manufacture processed foods that people are addicted to. We’re out there along with other companies to make healthier alternatives for people to eat. I have seen a greater trend in making healthy foods, plus plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian diets catching on.”
The popularity of embracing healthy lifestyles means that Bragg has made extra efforts to keep up with the demand for its products. For example, thanks to its popular organic apple cider vinegar and a recent increase in sales, there have been shortages of organic apples in the United States. Bragg has to compete with other companies to obtain these apples as well.
“Sometimes we are not able to crop and harvest the yield that we hoped for,” Dr. Westerdahl shares. “We can’t fight Mother Nature; we need those apples to make our vinegar and there has been a big increase in interest in getting organic apples. So our supply chain is a challenge that we’re dealing with. We have been working with farmers and suppliers directly to get these apples so we can secure them in the United States and Canada as much as possible. We are also exploring the availability of organic apples in other parts of the world as well.”
Bragg has also become a proponent of selling non-GMO products and labeling them as such. “Consumers have a right to know if their food is genetically modified,” says Dr. Westerdahl. “We are doing our best in making the healthiest natural products available.”
For over 100 years, Bragg Live Food Products has maintained its reputation as an industry leader in the health products market by remaining innovative and responsive. As the company continues to explore its options in the market, Dr. Westerdahl feels that Bragg Live Food Products will remain true to its mission of providing customers with its products.
“I think Bragg Live Food Products is a role model in producing healthy food products,” he says. “We realize we’re leaders in the field. To be successful in health food products, they have to taste good. There is a special need today for healthier food alternatives because there is so much junk food that is unhealthy and is causing sickness and premature death. There is a need for more and more companies to make healthier alternatives to those types of foods.”
“Bragg Live Food Products is dedicated to always promoting health, wellness, and longevity,” Dr. Bragg concludes. “We want the world to be healthy and peaceful and Bragg Live Food Products will inform, influence, and inspire all ages to live a healthy Bragg lifestyle.”