The following is taken from The Views of James Hervey Johnson on Health and discusses the benefits, both immediate and long-range, of the vegetarian diet and periodic fasting to cleanse the body. Mr. Johnson also offers his views on natural living and what is now termed “holistic” health methods.

Letter to Editor, Midnight, Feb. 15, 1973:

Although apparently a tabloid, the publication “Midnight” printed letters on serious topics. The text of this letter has been edited to delete references to articles and letters Johnson had previously read in Midnight, and references to photographs he enclosed with it which are no longer available.

Intelligent men study all sides of any subject before forming a conclusion. Every five years I take a 30 to 44 day fast, using only distilled water, and not a great deal of it, enough to satisfy thirst, and sometimes a little more when, I do not crave it, but think it should be used. I have taken five such fasts, and expect to take them every five years of my life, and I expect to live to be 100.

There is nothing like a fast to rejuvenate the body and mind, to eliminate any toxic materials and give the organs a rest. One feels young again, and the mind works faster and better than before.

My first long fast was in 1951, my last one about the time of my 71st birthday last year. There is nothing detrimental about such fasts, and they are on the other hand very greatly beneficial in all respects.

I take short fasts if I get an infrequent cold. A few days and I feel better than before. From a person who knows by testing, no one can make me believe that fasting is in the slightest injurious. I follow the Natural Hygienic system and among such followers there are hundreds who benefit from fasting. I know scores who have done so.

At 71, I feel much younger. My bodily functions are unimpaired. I work sixteen hours a day. Those who do not follow our system of health are not as healthy, many are sick and ailing and many of those I knew are dead, some in convalescent hospitals.

During my fasts I lose about 40 pounds weight. Scores of people tell me that I look much younger that my 71 years.

We Hygienists never use medicines or drugs of any kind. We use mostly fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and some whole grains, and distilled or pure rainwater. We do not use liquor, tobacco, coffee, tea, cola, refined products, milk, meat, salt, white sugar, white bread, and in fact we use almost no processed, packaged, canned or bottled goods. And we have excellent health.

For my own use I have studied for many years all of the health programs that will keep me well and give me a long healthy life. The fasting is an added insurance. I have no need of doctors, drugs or medicines.

I enjoy immensely my simple meals, I walk several miles a day for exercise instead of driving my car. I have no catarrh, no arthritis, no rheumatism nor any of the other diseases so many people my age complain of. My bowels operate perfectly, my lungs are good, I have no such thing as indigestion, headaches and not the slightest fear of the so called epidemics of London, Asiatic, Hong Kong or other kinds of colds called flu. Although after the holiday gorging season my employees, friends and business associates have them.

I am convinced, beyond the slightest doubt that my fasts are beneficial.

Untitled Essay, ca. 1971:

The following essay, written when Johnson was 70, provides more insight into how Johnson practiced Natural Hygiene in his daily life, and shows the type of diet he followed to guarantee optimum health.

I eat foods that experience has proven to be the best for vigorous health. They are Mother Nature’s production. Besides being the best, they are inexpensive. I do not buy foods for economy, nor primarily for taste, but those I eat must taste good in their natural condition.

I find that all or most of the bottled, canned, packaged, manufactured, chemicalized, “enriched”, highly advertised foods are not only very expensive, but they are not as good, and often far worse than Mother Nature’s productions and man’s adaptation to their use.

At 70 I am in vigorous health, work more than 12 hours a day, teach three classes a week, preside at a philosophical meeting, take care of a publishing business, edit a monthly journal, do considerable writing and research work. I walk two miles a day, take body exercises in the morning, and run around the block before breakfast.

Many of the people I knew have died, others are invalids or not able to do much.

Having noticed an article in Mother Earth News regarding a Chinese food diet, I determined to keep a record of the foods used and their costs for a month on what those of us who follow it call a natural health diet. We do not use bread, meat, eggs, milk, salt, white sugar, margarine, pastry, cakes, cereals, tobacco, liquor, bottled drinks, coffee, tea, cocoa, candy and nearly all of the commercial packaged, commercialized foods.

Being very busy I do not have time to shop for foods and have to either depend upon others to get them for me or take what is easily available in the markets.

All my life I have done some organic gardening and I still get some bananas, guavas, sapotes (a tropical fruit Johnson sometimes referred to as a “custard apple”), figs, peaches, from trees I planted in previous years. Now, [although] confined to a small city lot covered with a ten room house, parking and storage, [I have] a small strip of ground 30 feet long by one foot wide upon which I raise quite a bit of sweet corn, or carrots, and turnips. People are surprised. I mention this to encourage others with only limited earth to use it. I bury all leaves, clippings around my trees and in any land available. A 20x40 plot will raise a very large amount of fresh vegetables if it is enriched by burying organic material.

During a thirty-day period in November and December I used the following foods at the accompanying costs. Allowance was made at market prices for foods from my own few trees, or for foods brought by friends.

Mr. Johnson prepared the following table in the early 1970s, and the prices listed are, of course, not current. However, the reader is urged to compare today’s prices for the fruits and vegetables listed below with the prices for meats and processed foods. A substantial savings should be noticed, especially if the comparison is done at small, independent produce markets or farmer’s markets.


    15 lb. sapotes (custard apples)                  1.50
    8 heads of cabbage                                    1.38
    5 lb. guavas                                                 0.75
    18 lb. carrots                                               1.75
    10 heads of lettuce                                      1.50
    2 heads celery                                             0.70
    5 lb. peanuts                                                2.35
    30 lb. persimmons (including a lug)            4.50
    2 lb. bananas                                               0.25
    24 lb. grapes (a lug box)                              3.00
    13 lb. tomatoes (half a box)                         1.25
    6 cantaloupes                                              0.60
    4 lb. raisins                                                  1.38
    9 lbs. squash (Tahiti)                                   1.20
    2 lbs. cashew nuts                                      1.20
    1 lb. almonds                                               1.25
    4 lbs. cheese                                               4.06
    1 lb. Brazil                                                    0.97
    1/2 lb. butter                                                 0.52
    1 loaf whole wheat very special bread        0.75
    1 lb. brown sugar                                         0.19
    4 large Jicama (Mexican root vegetable)     1.00
    2 packages frozen peas                              0.41
    4 packages mixed vegetables (frozen)       1.16
    Dinner at smorgasbord                                1.85

    TOTAL:                                                     $35.47

This included a birthday dinner at which there were eight guests, another two dinners with a friend at my house and $1.85 paid for my dinner when I took guests to a smorgasbord restaurant, so we and they could have plenty of salads.

I want to stress that there was no effort to economize.

Ordinarily, I do not use bread or butter, but some bread was brought by a friend, and butter and cheese were for the party. The frozen vegetables were because of the guests and lack of time to prepare a large dinner from fresh vegetables. Friends and employees are always invited to help themselves to the fruit.

The guests at the birthday dinner are healthminded and they all expressed enjoyment of the meal.

Most of my diet consists of uncooked vegetables. Some peanuts are slightly roasted. No fruit is ever cooked. Except for some peanuts, no nuts are roasted.

Our birthday dinner consisted of three salads: lettuce and tomato, cole slaw, carrot and raisin (dressing was made with cold pressed soy oil, orange juice and brown sugar), baked Tahiti squash, cooked vegetables, several varieties of nuts and several kinds of cheese.

Following are some of the samples of the meals I use. I enjoy eating, always fill up, and am always ready for the next meal.

Breakfasts: Oranges and small sapotes or just oranges, Grapes, sapotes, Guavas, Cantaloupe, Oranges, grapes, Persimmons, guavas, Persimmons, Casaba melon, Oranges, raisins, Orange juice, persimmons

Lunches: Cabbage, Peanut Butter, Cabbage and carrots, Melon and cheese, Salad of lettuce, carrots, a few nuts, and some cheese, Grapes, some nuts, and cheese, Bananas, squash, peanuts, Sapotes, a few nuts, and cheese

(Ed. note. The remaining pages of this essay have been lost. However, the above list provides a representative sample of the types of foods Johnson used on a daily basis.)

Some Notes On Natural Living

Johnson probably wrote the following essay sometime during the early 1970s, when concern for the environment was capturing the public imagination and many people were becoming interested in “getting back to nature.” Here, Mr. Johnson gives his perspective on that subject.

I come from pioneer stock. In those days there was no welfare, no free food, no corner grocery and people had to subsist on what they had.

One of the lessons the pioneers learned from the Indians was the use of parched corn, roasted until it cracked, but not burned. With good teeth it can be eaten like peanuts. If necessary it can be ground and makes a delicious cereal—better than any of the packaged cereals which sell for such high prices. The Indians carried this fine food with them on their marches or their hunts. The Tarahumaras, the great Mexican Indian runners ,use it mixed with a little water.

At times parched wheat makes a good cereal.

My preference is for sweet corn, when dried and parched.

My ancestors used to dry berries, tame and wild, and they dried apples by peeling them in long strings and hanging them in the kitchen. Parsley and herbs were dried for tea, and sassafras root, which grows wild in the west, made a delicious drink. I don’t see why tea has to be imported from Asia and coffee from South America, when these herb teas, much more delicious and almost free for the preparing, are available.

I made juices from wild grapes, elderberries, and wild cherries. I picked bushels of wild berries and nuts.

But organic gardening can provide everyone with a bountiful supply of fruits and vegetables at very little cost.

Obey Natural Laws or Die

This essay appeared in a pamphlet of the same name that Johnson wrote in the early 1970s to summarize his views on Natural Hygiene.

A few days ago a prominent medical doctor died. He was highly honored and held important positions in a number of medical associations and hospitals.

Without doubt, he was fully educated in all of the most modern techniques of the latest medicines and drugs and had every benefit obtainable from them, and the aid of his fellow doctors and all the most expensive facilities of the hospitals.

Surely, he had the benefit of everything that modern medical knowledge could offer. His knowledge of drugs and medicines was evidently complete. He was 49.

The Natural Health advocates, who use the designation of Natural Hygienists for identification, cannot be satisfied in following the methods of modern medicine. There are too many examples of early death and sickness of those who do.

Man is a product of nature, a part of the universe. The universe is operated under exact natural laws. Man is a product of millions of years of evolution. He adapts himself to the laws of nature or he perishes.

The Eskimo can eat, and relish, raw blubber. During thousands of years those who could not handle it died off, leaving the blubber-eaters to survive. The heavy fat diet gives them the fuel to help them fight the great cold in their environment. San Diegans would probably die in a few months on a diet of blubber.

The Eskimo has learned by trial and error, and like millions of humans, those who did not follow natural laws, those who failed, paid the price of evolution, which eliminates those who fail. The absolute rule: obey natural laws or suffer, die, and your kind will be eliminated. The fate of the enormous dinosaur is a classic example. To Natural Hygienists, an example staring us in the face is the death of a man possessed of all the knowledge of modern medicine, in the prime of life.

So we seek to know the laws of nature, particularly those relating to health and to life itself. We have had great success in finding out many of them. For more than a century doctors and others who were not satisfied with the medical methods (which did not prevent people from being sick and dying young or in the prime of life) have been probing the reasons for sickness and early death. The observations have been on human beings.

The result of the studies, the testing, and the observations is what we term Natural Health, a knowledge and observance of nature’s laws. No rule is worth anything if by following it the desired results are not obtained.

And we have proved, over and over, that Natural Hygienic rules work. And by the same token, we have seen that other popularly followed health methods do not work. The examples are before our eyes continuously.

In some circles, and from those who know little about our health rules, there has been a policy of characterizing us and our rules as “faddists,” “health nuts,” and “impractical.” The opposite is the case. We demand sound proof in practice. A theory is worthless to us if it cannot be proven to us.

Our health is better when we use a great abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, when we avoid all the concocted, processed, chemicalized, highly concentrated, highly seasoned foods made to keep on shelves until sold in bottles, cans, and packages.

It is wise to look at the fine print on the containers and note the wide variety of chemicals in many foods. The law requires the designation because the chemicals are often poisonous, but not seriously injurious in small quantities, except over a long period.

The manufacturers don’t stress the chemicals and you may have to put your glasses on to read the small print. The long Latin names may disguise a name for something like plain lye into a long-sounding scholarly looking word.

The chemical is put in the bread, for example, to keep germs from eating it. It won’t spoil because the germs which cause spoilage would die if they ate it.

Salt is the common preservative. It keeps food from spoiling because the life that would eat the food cannot survive in the salt. Man, being a bigger organism, can live because the proportion is small, and he drinks a lot of water to dilute the effects of the salt or other preservatives. But we have found that over a period of time, they are injurious to man also.

So we eat the best food we can find — natural food — and we are healthier for it. Every one we know who has given the plan a fair trial obtains the same results.

We have found that we are healthier and enjoy life more when we engage in vigorous physical activity.

One of the great advantages of following Natural Health methods — not previously touched upon — is the economic advantage. There is a great difference in cost of the processed foods and the natural foods. It costs extra to refine, to buy high-priced chemicals to mix with food, to test out the chemicals that make it taste good, to preserve it, make it appealing to the eye using artificial coloring, to print eye-catching labels and packages to compete with the other foods after the consumer’s dollar. Billions of dollars are spent in newspaper, TV, and billboard advertising to induce the gullible to buy various high-priced food and drink concoctions, some of it highly injurious. The billions in cost of advertising are added to the price.

Oranges and apples need none of this. Carrots and potatoes look just as good in a paper bag as if they were in an expensive package. Celery looks good in its natural state.

All fruits look and smell and taste delicious. Beans can be bought at low prices in bulk. Who would want to put artificial coloring or flavor on lettuce?

Meat is expensive; it has to be “cured.” refrigerated, often doctored with preservatives, sometimes colored. The animals are often given hormones and shots of chemicals to make them put on weight fast, and even given a lot of salt to make them fill up with watery flesh.

We are warned about the mercury in swordfish. Shark is disguised under the name “grayfish.” Probably a lot of poultry, which had outlived its egg-laying usefulness, would die shortly if not killed first. All “dead carcasses” to Hygienists. We do well without any of it.

We like our food live and fresh, as it is, not disguised with synthetic chemicals. Vitamins are expensive, costing several dollars a bottle. We don’t need them; ours come direct from the fresh, natural, live food we eat.

Living according to natural laws, we don’t have to buy medicines and drugs, pay big medical bills, or go to hospitals. We invite you to try our methods for yourself.





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