This poster has huge historic significance for the Natural Foods movement in the US.
In April 1965, 27-year-old Fred Rohe borrowed $5,000 and bought a small health food store, Sunset Health Foods, at 1319 Ninth Ave, in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset district. But instead of stocking it with the usual health foods fare (re: vitamins), he added fresh produce, animal products, baked goods, etc. You can see evidence of this in the poster. This is when “health food” meant “not processed” so you can see plenty of wheat and animals on the poster.
During the first year, business was slow, but then young people 10 blocks away in Haight Ashbury discovered him. Business doubled each year until 1970 and was so good that he annexed a shop across the street and used it for a granary. In order to have uniform standards, Rohe organized a dozen retailers, growers and restaurateurs into a group named Organic Merchants. The group had more than 50 members by late 1970.
Around 1970, he changed the name to New Age Natural Foods. It was the prototype for health food stores across the USA. That same year he opened a natural foods supermarket under that name in Palo Alto. An article in the San Francisco Examiner titled “Natural Food Supermarket a Success,” begins: “Palo Alto – If there is any doubt that an organic food revolution is beginning, it can be dispelled first by the appearance of the world’s only natural foods supermarket in nearby Palo Alto [near Stanford University] and second, by the success of the man who opened it.” The store is widely considered the mode; for Whole Foods Market a decade later.
This rare poster is by well-known San Francisco rock poster artist Robert Fried. At the top of the poster is a frog smoking a hookah, an image that would dominate a large headshop poster done by Fried, called “Holy Smoke,” which he also did in 1967. It was a caterpillar that smoked a hookah in Alice in Wonderland (a common late sixties meme) so why the toad? Maybe because in 1967 research had just been republished asserting the psychedelic qualities associated with smoking the venom of the Bufo Alvarius toad! Who knows, but we will point out that the poster claims to be printed by the "Singing Mothers LSD Relief Society Studio…”