This morning I stumbled upon Frank Bruni's New York Times article on David Murdock,"The Billionaire Who Is Planning His 125th Birthday" - it is a fascinating and inspiring piece.
Bruni writes, "There are health nuts, and then there is Murdock: health paragon, patron and proselytizer"
Mr. Murdock is my kind of guy. Anyone who pushes the restaurant butter dish towards the server and says, "take the death off the table" deserves the spotlight on my blog. Here are my favorite quotes and lessons from the NYT article on Murdock..
About the Man. Murdock is a man I had been somewhat familiar with as being "one of the richest men in the world" - Forbes ranks him as the 374th-richest, with a net worth of 2.5 billion dollars. Murdock is 87. And as spry as can be, according to Bruni. He has a sharp tongue and an even sharper mind when it comes to wellness and healthy eating.
Murdock is the chairman of Dole Foods (how I really came to know of him) and another fun fact - he basically owns the Hawaiian island of Lanai. On a sadder note, the NYT article made me realize how much tragedy this man has experienced in his life. His soul mate wife died of untreatable, late-stage Ovarian Cancer. And two of his three sons have died way too young, from tragic accidents (pool drowning and a car crash).
When I attended the Dole Nutrition and Wellness Food Blogger Summit last year (photos in this post are from that trip), I learned much about the health, wellness, longevity and nutrition aspects of Murdock's life. And the NYT article expanded greatly upon this.
Veganish. He's not vegan, but more vegan-ish. From what I can tell he consumes as much produce as he can fill his belly with, in the form of sugar-free/salt-free smoothies, soups and salads. He has sworn off dairy, alcohol, red meat and poultry entirely - but still eats egg whites and seafood. Besides the eggs and seafood, I feel like I am this man's nutrition soul mate. Smoothie guzzling at age 87? Love it.
Here are my favorite outtakes from Frank Bruni's NYT article. And a few lessons I took away from each of Murdock's quotes.
" “I never have anything go wrong,” he said later. “Never have a backache. Never have a headache. Never have anything else.” This would make him a lucky man no matter his age. Because he is 87, it makes him an unusually robust specimen, which is what he must be if he is to defy the odds (and maybe even the gods) and live as long as he intends to. He wants to reach 125, and sees no reason he can’t.. "
Lesson: You control your lifestyle health - and that includes nutrition and fitness. Longevity is different for everyone (genes and surroundings do matter) but when it comes to lifestyle, healthy habits are yours to grasp with a stern fist.
"he crams as many as 20 (fruits and veggies), including pulverized banana peels and the ground-up rinds of oranges, into the smoothies he drinks two to three times a day, to keep his body brimming with fiber and vitamins."
Lesson: Drink more smoothies. Eat more produce. Feel good. (..I could've told you that!)
"His energy, more than his appearance, makes him seem younger than he is. At his lodge he leapt from his chair every 20 minutes to grab unwieldy four-foot-long logs and hurl them into a stone fireplace two stories tall. The gesture was not only irresistible metaphor — he didn’t want the flame to die — but also showy proof of his strength."
Lesson: Never let your fire and passions in life burn out. Find and feed your zest for life.
"He doesn’t count calories or believe in extreme caloric restriction as a way to extend life. But he does believe that excess weight is a sure way to abbreviate it, and reprimands friends, acquaintances and even strangers who are heavy."
Lesson: Don't keep quiet with your passion for health. Inspire others to find and meet their own wellness goals. Speak out.
"In restaurants Murdock will push the butter dish toward the server and say, “Take the death off the table.” He will ask employees or friends who are putting sugar in coffee or milk in tea why they want to kill themselves and will upbraid people leaving healthful food unfinished about the vitamins they’re squandering."
Lesson: Don't be ashamed of your health point of view. It's OK to rebel from "societal norms" of how to eat. Butter at the table for bread doesn't have to be a constant!
"At Dole’s headquarters in Westlake Village, Calif., just a 15-minute drive from the ranch, employees eat in a subsidized cafeteria where salad is plentiful and chicken nuggets unthinkable, and they have free access to a company gym where personal training, also subsidized, is $30 an hour. The exhortation to eat right is so pervasive that if you call Dole and are put on hold, you don’t hear Muzak but, instead, sunny dietary bromides and nutrition news bulletins."
Lesson: The Dole Institute is seeking to verify what we already suspect is true: eat more fruits and veggies, and wellness finds you and keeps you longer. The sunrise over the institute in Cali..
A meal from the Institute's employee cafeteria..
(more photos from the institute below)
"Murdock says that he wants to slay such killers as diabetes, heart disease and, of course, cancer, and the scientists around him say that in some epically optimistic corner of his mind, he quite possibly believes he can."
Lesson: oh the power and influence that positive thinking can have on your goals.
"..Sure, the rinds and peels — which he explains by saying that the parts of fruits most directly sun-kissed are bound to harbor the most energy — may be a little strange. But they’re not dangerous-strange, and a plant-based diet that’s low in animal fat while still allowing for protein sources beyond legumes has emerged as the consensus recommendation of most medical professionals. Murdock never neglects protein: the breakfast he ate just hours before our lunch included not only a smoothie and 10-grain cereal in almond milk..."
Lesson: Lean towards a plant-based diet. Or better, go vegan.
"“You want to know what I like and what makes me happy?” he said as we stood on the bridge. “Just having these fish makes me happy. Every one is alive because of me.” He pointed out that some were ordinary and some magnificent — just like people, he said — and told me that after a female releases her eggs, she tries to ward off lesser males, so stronger ones fertilize them. “It’s the survival of the fittest in all aspects of the world.” "
Lesson: Animals and humans have a connection that cannot always be explained, but should never be taken for granted.
Want to learn more? Read the entire article at the NYT. So inspiring. I hope I'm throwing back smoothies and juices 3 times a day when I'm 87 :) I toast to Mr. Murdock with a tall smoothie glass! Cheers to you wellness-mogul, may you reach 125 or close to it. Read the entire article at the New York Times.
And don't miss my inside look at Murdock's Westlake village, CA Dole Wellness Institute here.
A few more photos from my Dole Institute trip..
Gena (of ChoosingRaw.com) and I, lunching at Dole..
A few of Murdock's Dole nutrition/wellness/science experts..