Shaper: Craig Sams

Show aired on 6th May 2017


Craig Sams

Craig Sams was born on a farm in Nebraska. He has worked as a bottle deposit recovery operative, a caddy at an 18-hole country club, a shelf stacker, a grocery bag carry out boy, a newspaper delivery boy for the Omaha World Herald, a parking lot attendant for the Philadelphia Eagles, a dishwasher in Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity house at U.of Pa., a bartender at Billy’s Bar in Philadelphia, a model at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, a Yellow Cab driver, a substitute school teacher, a rock promoter in the Isle of Wight, a blood vendor, a busker in Karachi, a mold opener and scraper in a rubber dolly factory, a waiter at La Mer Restaurant in Malibu, a macrobiotic restaurateur, a silk dyer, a rock band manager, and the first importer of Afghan coats.

In 1967, Craig and his brother Gregory founded Whole Earth Foods, expanding from Seed, an organic macrobiotic restaurant into retail, wholesaling and manufacturing. Their health food company Whole Earth manufactured peanut butter. They published “Seed Magazine – The Journal of Organic Living” from 1971-1977.

In 1991, in partnership with Josephine Fairley, Craig founded Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate, the first product to carry the Fairtrade Mark. He is President of Green & Black’s, acquired by Cadbury’s in 2005 and subsequently by Kraft in 2010 and director of Duchy Originals, Soil Association Certification, Wellington Natural Wellbeing Centre and Carbon Gold. Craig is also a trustee of the Global Chant Foundation.

Craig is author of a number of books including About Macrobiotics, The Brown Rice Cookbook, The Little Food Book and The Story of Green & Black’s. In 2008, Craig founded Carbon Gold, to establish biochar as a means to restore degraded soils, enhance organic farming and sequester carbon dioxide to reverse climate change.

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Follow Craig on Twitter @craigsams1.

My wife Jo came up with the name Green & Black’s. I was thinking of Biochoc or Choconature – that sort of thing, pretty tacky in retrospect.

I think the thing that really turns me on is doing something that hasn’t been done before. Doing something where you can do good and where you’re actually making a positive difference in the world.

If you are passionate and you believe in what you are doing then you are more likely to get it right because you will constantly examine yourself and question your own values.

Most of my career was about making people healthy, about providing the kind of food that produces a healthy digestive system.

At the moment we’re losing thirty nine football fields a minute of viable agricultural soil because of the overuse of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. And there is a solution.

We take carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the soil as organic matter for healthier soil. It’s like building thousands of apartments for the microbes and fungi – probiotics basically.

We had John Lennon, The Stones and people like Terence Stamp in our restaurant because it was the only place where you could get brown rice.

People see you do something, they see that its successful and they copy it. Then they start cutting corners.

Consumers can smell when something is right – that’s how you can build a durable brand.