Believe it or not, next year marks the 90th anniversary of Nutrilite. Many amazing things are in the works to celebrate this important milestone.
For starters, something I’m truly excited about is the upcoming release of TheNutrilite Story, 3rd Edition. The updated version of the book will not only to tell the ongoing story of the Nutrilite brand, but its release will also coincide with the 90th anniversary.
The book tells the story of my father, Carl Rehnborg, and how his insatiable curiosity and dogged determination created Nutrilite. It also shares how my personal journey from childhood up to the present has helped Amway and Nutrilite become what it is today. You’ll be able to get a copy of the book early next year.
That’s not all we have been busy with lately. To help people better understand the Nutrilite story and how my personal life has been so intertwined with health and wellness, I spent several days in a production studio capturing my impressions about the past, present and future.
Here’s a teaser video we put together to give you a taste of the content you will soon be able to see.
There’s even more. During the last two weeks in October, I will be touring Asia – stopping in China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan – to begin celebrating the 90th anniversary of the brand and all the amazing things happening with Amway and Nutrilite.
So make sure you stay tuned to my blog for updates about my trip.
My father, Nutrilite founder Carl Rehnborg, was ahead of his time, he was able to foresee outcomes before they happened. And he was always looking for ways to improve the health of the planet and our prospects as individuals – even in unconventional ways.
If you’ve read The Nutrilite Story, you might know the story of the Acaniaa ship he purchased to harvest plankton from the sea off the coast of Alaska. If you want to know more about Nutrilite history, understanding the story of the Acania is a good place to start because it embodies my father’s forward thinking-nature, the type of thinking that translates into the foundation of the Nutrilite brand.
An Eventful World Tour
In the early 1950s my father was entering the retirement phase of his life, having turned 65 in 1952. But he wasn’t slowing down by any means.
A year later, his insatiable curiosity led him to embark on a world tour with his wife Edith that took them to Europe, the Middle East and Asia. During his travels, he was analyzing the character and culture of ancient places that were brand new to him. And in doing so he couldn’t help but view things through his own particular lens – nutrition.
He visited Europe when it was still recovering from the devastation of World War II. He theorized that proper supplementation could help bridge nutritional gaps in people still recovering from the traumas of war. And throughout his travels across three different continents he saw stark reminders of poverty and malnutrition.
He returned home inspired to find ways to make the world a better place and to do what he could to help eliminate poverty and starvation. He saw that people were not only suffering from a lack of vitamins, but also from an inadequate intake of protein.
Observations while Sailing to and from China
Decades earlier he had sailed to and from China across the North Pacific, where he saw plankton blooms glowing in the dark seas at night. Memories of those passages across the ocean gave him an idea for a solution. In the fall of 1954, he decided to find a way to harvest plankton straight from the sea and use it to make a protein supplement.
Why plankton? More bang for the buck, he figured, or more protein by the pound, to be more accurate. Sure, one pound of plankton might be roughly equivalent to a pound of fish, but a lot of food value was lost between the plankton and the big fish that humans ate.
He purchased a 126 foot luxury yacht called the Acania and he refitted it for harvesting plankton. By the summer of 1956, the Acania set sail, bound for the waters off Alaska. I was able to join the crew during my summer break from Stanford University, where I had just completed my sophomore year studying chemical engineering.
How it Worked
From the Acania’s deck, we would send these big coned-shaped nets down 100 feet in water to scoop up the protein-rich plankton. We would follow the plankton on sonar. We could see the fluorescent plankton rise at night with the dwindling sun when we could get close enough to harvest it. We would bring it onboard via big pumps that sucked it out of the water and into the bowels of the boat, where it was spray-dried with relatively little treatment. Every night, we would catch 100 pounds. It produced a very high-quality material that was 85 percent protein.
The trip was a success, proving that plankton could indeed be harvested, and a healthful protein supplement easily made from it.
Unfortunately, the operation wasn’t economically viable. Harvesting plankton was simply too costly at the time to produce a supplement whose primary market would be the world’s most poverty-stricken areas.
The Acania Today
The current owners of the Acania reached out to me earlier this year to compile historical details about the vessel. The ship was built in 1929 and it’s had a storied history with multiple owners. Nutrilite owned it from 1955 to 1960 after which the boat was sold to the Stanford Research Institute.
The ship is being restored after it sank at the dock in Everett, Washington in August of 2017.
I hope to be able to visit the current owners sometime in the near future to share personal stories about my time on the Acania and to relive some of the wonderful memories I experienced as a young man helping to build the future of the Nutrilite brand.
A Friend of the Sea
Today, Nutrilite ingredients harvested from the ocean are Friend of the Sea® certified. That includes the entire supply chain — the fisheries, the fish oil producer, and our products. Specifically, it relates to our new Omega and Advanced Omega products that have begun rolling out this year. It’s another step toward sustainability and care for the planet we call home.
Friend of the Sea® sustainable fisheries and Omega-3 certification ensures certified products minimally impact the environment. Following Friend of the Sea® requirements ensures healthy fish, supports endangered species, and encourages an abundant supply for the future.
My Father’s Legacy
My father was focused on sustainability, social responsibility, and other innovative methods to help alleviate global challenges like poverty, malnutrition, and climate change. He was doing this even before the modern environmental movement was born.
It’s the type of thinking we need more of today as we slowly realize that the future is now. And we can’t pass our problems to the next generation anymore.
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My recent trip to Amway World Headquarters allowed me to see the future when I visited the archives and records department. That’s where I found a dedicated team of people keeping track of all the materials and artifacts we’ve generated over the decades.
The climate controlled, state-of-the-art facility is preserving Nutrilite and Amway history, and it’s providing a glimpse into a future that’s still connected to our past.
Let me explain with a brief history lesson.
The Nutrilite story started when my father, Carl Rehnborg, discovered the power of plant-based nutrients, and their impact on human health, while living in China more than 100 years ago.
While traveling the country, he saw that people living in rural areas were much healthier than those living in the city. They were more physically active, and they ate more fruits and vegetables. By contrast, city dwellers were more sedentary, and their diet was less diverse.
He realized that people who were missing these plant-based nutrients that, at the time, he called “associated food factors” – later they would be known as phytonutrients – were not as healthy as they could be.
He personally came face-to-face with the reality of poor nutrition when he and his family were trapped in an isolated settlement in Shanghai during civil war battles in 1927. During this several-month period, the whole city was essentially locked down while warring factions fought.
With food supplies growing short and noticing the signs of malnutrition among other inhabitants, he would gather whatever greens he could from the settlement’s parks and gardens and whatever foodstuffs he was able to persuade the guards to bring him to prepare soups and gruels.
He even added rusty nails and bones to his concoctions whenever he could, knowing that they would provide supplemental iron and calcium and other valuable minerals. He passed out samples to his friends and neighbors. Dad and the family ate it, and he encouraged everyone who would listen to do the same.
He survived the experience and returned to Southern California later that year with $40 in his pocket.
The time he spent in China and the simple observations he made about nutrition became the seeds of an idea that inspired him to create what is believed to be the first multivitamin/multimineral food supplement in the North American marketplace in 1934. He founded Vitamin Products Company, and later changed the company name to Nutrilite in 1939. It wasn’t without personal trials and tribulations, but my father believed in his dream and worked doggedly for many years to turn it into reality.
The fundamentals of the Nutrilite origin story still hold true. Carl Rehnborg believed in eating healthy, colorful whole foods, supplementing the diet with plant-based nutrients, regular exercise and activity, and a positive mental attitude based in curiosity about the world.
Simply put, these ideas of prevention and optimal health still hold true for the Nutrilite brand and Amway of today and in the future.
What I saw in the Archives
At this point I’m sure you’re wondering what I saw when I visited the archives. Here’s a gallery of photos and ads from the early days of Nutrilite.
I hope you’re able to see the future in our archives just like I did. We’ve come a long way in nearly 90 years.
Recently, I received an inspiring note from Takeshi Saito, one of our Nutrilite Experience staff members. He’s been a dedicated Nutrilite employee for many years, and he recently helped host a group of Vietnamese ABOs visiting our Buena Park, California headquarters.
Because of his welcoming, genuine, and outgoing personality, he was able to make a connection with one of the visiting ABOs who stayed in touch with him. She sent him a message explaining how excited she was that she’d received a copy of a special book published more than 35 years ago. It was a used book she found on a popular online marketplace months ago, but she finally received it during the holidays.
The note caused me to pick up the book once again and re-read portions of it. It still strikes me how prescient my father’s writings were. How he clearly recognized the importance of sustainability and the need to take care of the planet and, therefore, our future.
Much of the writing found in his collection coincided with the groundbreaking work of Rachel Carson, who wrote the famous book Silent Spring back in 1962 which inspired the modern environmental movement. My father and Rachel Carson corresponded with each other during that time, they were both forward thinking and recognized many of the perils we were beginning to face as a world community.
There is an essay that encapsulates his thoughts about where we were going and the changes we need to adopt to keep the future bright for everyone. It was written in 1962 and it was called Preserving and Protecting Our Environment.
You can find this passage on page 148:
“For the first time in human history we will now begin to study our environment instead of taking it for granted and thinking of it as able to supply our every careless whim forever. Maybe we are already too late in getting ready to begin our study. Time will tell, but this looks like a very good time to start worrying – right now, not a few decades in the future.”
We are more than a few decades into the future. It’s here and it’s time to take meaningful action. Sometimes we just need the right inspiration.
I’m so thankful for the inspiration to revisit my father’s writings.
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Throughout the Double X journey, I thought it would be fun to share highlights of my earlier sailing sabbatical aboard the Firebird over 40 years ago. I’m categorizing these posts under “Blast from the Past.” As luck would have it, Captain Bob, the skipper for the Firebird journey, is also the skipper for the Double X journey. Continue reading The Adventures of the Firebird→
Welcome to my blog on healthy living with the Nutrilite™ brand.