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The Birth of Lifestream

Posted by Arran Stephens on June 5th, 2009 under Arran's Musings

I returned to India in late 1968, and on March 4th, 1969 married a wonderful woman—my life-companion, Ratana. On January 1, 1971, along with a partner, it was our privilege to open LifeStream, Canada’s first large natural foods store.

It was my Dad who suggested the name. LifeStream was a play on the esoteric term, the Audible Life Stream of Creation—the yoga of inner Light and Sound. Free fresh carrot juice drew in crowds; an electric-powered 20” stone-buhr mill, visible through a window from the street, ground tons of fresh whole-grain flour every day; alfalfa sprouts were grown in our nearby warehouse/factory; fresh nut butters were roasted and milled to order; natural candy bars and cookies were extruded and baked; egg-free cakes and muffins popped from the ovens; pies, crunchy granola, bulk foods, and wholesome artisanal breads were baked and sold by the thousands.

These were firsts for Canada. Inspiration came from such diverse sources as: Hippocrates: ‘Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.’ Genesis: ‘Lo, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of the earth, and the milk of animals that feedeth on it; to you it shall be for meat,’ Back to Eden, by Jethrow Kloss, a book on self-healing using natural herbs and natural diet.
 
Like the Golden Lotus, Lifestream was a conduit for change at the right time and place. Schoolteachers brought entire classes to see how wholesome foods were made, which we encouraged. Lifestream became so busy that it was often difficult to wade through the crowds of shoppers and hangers-on. We had a revolution on our hands! On impulse, I gave half the business to a friend who became a working partner. Sales doubled every year for seven years, and the business quickly branched out into wholesale distribution. Another partner joined, and we three became equals.
 

Arran Stephens

As an artist, author, environmentalist, and founder of America’s largest certified organic cereal company, Arran is a voice of experience in the alternative food industry. His values — sustainability, community, and spirituality — have fuelled a pioneering career in business.