William A. “Bill” Galt, a health food pioneer, philanthropist and peace activist, died Aug. 2. He was 89.
Galt made his home in Mexico the past 20 years, living in Mérida and Los Cabos, and also residing in San Diego, Calif. A proponent of organic agriculture, he was a member of the board of directors of Slow Food Mexico for many years.
Galt is survived by his wife of 30 years, Gail Weaver, of Mérida, as well as four children from his first marriage, and two grandchildren.
Galt died Aug. 2 in Reno, Nev., from complications following repeated surgeries for a broken hip and pelvis suffered in a fall, according to family and friends in an Associated Press report.
A large part of his legacy is his Good Earth restaurants, which he started in 1975. The chain served mostly additive-free vegetarian dishes based on Galt’s research into whole grains, hormone-free meats and natural sugars and spices.
“Six-foot-four and lean, Galt was ahead of his time in spotting a market opportunity in natural ingredients and never lost his devotion to unprocessed foods. He hiked, swam in the Pacific Ocean and used an antigravity contraption that, he said, promoted spinal health, circulation and perhaps even hair growth,” wrote the Wall Street Journal.
A Democrat and peace campaigner, Galt served on the city council in Sparks, Nev. in the mid-1960s and made unsuccessful runs for U.S. senator and lieutenant governor in Nevada before focusing on health and nutrition.
After selling the Good Earth restaurants, Galt traveled the world and launched The Good Health Centers to promote healthy lifestyles and Peace Leaders International, a think tank.
Galt also developed Good Earth Tea in his home kitchen in Mérida.
Two surviving Good Earth restaurants still operate in the Minneapolis area, according to the Wall Street Journal. Donna Fahs, chief operating officer for its current owner, said the most popular menu item dates to Mr. Galt’s era: cashew chicken salad.
Fahs first worked for Good Earth in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1979 as a part-time hostess and later was a general manager. She recalled Galt as an energetic “health nut” who combined beans and brown rice to provide essential proteins.
“At the time, nobody knew what an adzuki bean was,” she said, but Good Earth served them.
Galt’s reach as a peace activist was global, working with former Soviet Union President Mikael Gorbachev and meeting with Cuban President Fidel Castro in the 1980s.
“He taught me to be a humanitarian… and I was inspired to follow in his footsteps… A great inspiration to so many of us!” wrote Doria Cordova on Galt’s Facebook page.
Galt was born on May 31, 1929, in Cartersville, Ga., where his parents owned a dairy farm.
Memorials can be sent to the nonprofit William Galt Organic Farmers Scholarship Fund in care of the law offices of Diaz and Galt, 443 Marsh Ave., Reno, NV 89509.
With information from Restaurant News