Arran Blackburn Stephens (born 1944) is a Canadian entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. He is co-founder of Nature's Path, a leading manufacturer of organic foods. He is regarded as a pioneer in the food industry and has received numerous acknowledgements for his work promoting sustainable agriculture, organics, and opposition to genetic food modification.
Stephens in 2014
British Columbia, Canada
|Occupation||CEO and Co-Founder of Nature's Path Organic Foods, Inc., author, painter|
|Children||Shanti, Gurdeep, Jyoti and Arjan|
|Parent(s)||Rupert and Gwen Stephens|
Arran Stephens was born on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the son of Rupert Stephens, a berry farmer and songwriter, and Gwen Stephens. Stephens has a brother, Godfrey Stephens, a well-known Canadian artist. Stephens is of English and Scottish ancestry. His maternal great-grandfather was Lt. General JM Cripps, of the Bengal Staff Corps, India.
Stephens grew up on a berry farm on Vancouver Island until his early teens, when his parents relocated to Los Angeles, following his father's pursuit of a songwriting career. For a brief time, Stephens attended Hollywood High School. In his later teen years, Stephens supported himself as a painter and poet with gallery showings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City.
In 1964 while living in New York, Stephens became interested in spirituality and mysticism. In 1967 he traveled to India to study at an ashram under the guidance of well known spiritual teacher Sant Kirpal Singh. In 1967 Stephens moved to Vancouver and opened The Golden Lotus, Canada's first vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Kitsilano.
In 1968, Stephens returned to India and married Ratana, and returned with his new wife to Canada.
Beginning of Nature's PathEdit
In 1971, Arran (and Ratana) opened LifeStream Natural Foods, a retailer and distributor of organic foods that was eventually sold to Kraft Foods in 1981. Around that time, the Arran and Ratana would go on to open "Woodlands," a successful vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver. In 1985, the Stephens' founded Nature's Path, and by 1990 would open North America's first certified organic breakfast cereal production facility in Delta, British Columbia.
Originally focusing on cereals and breads, the company now sells a variety of products including toaster pastries, waffles, and granola. Nature's Path has grown to distribute its products to over 40 countries worldwide, with several hundred employees and production facilities in Canada and the United States. The company's product line has remained 100% certified organic since its founding and the company remains family-run and privately owned. In 2012, Nature's Path acquired Que Pasa Mexican Foods, a producer of organic tortillas, chips and salsas. Two of the Stephens' four children, Arjan and Jyoti, are active in leadership within the company.
Stephens served on the Organic Trade Association (OTA) board during the creation and launch of the USDA National Organic Program. He was an early supporter and founding board member of the Non-GMO Project. Stephens was also a vocal supporter of California's Proposition 37 initiative. Stephens has also served on the boards of The Rodale Institute, and as the Chairman of the Richmond Food Security Society. He continues to serve as chair of the board of the federally registered charity, Science of Spirituality of Canada.
Awards & PhilanthropyEdit
In 2002, Stephens received the Ernst & Young Manufacturing & Distribution Award.
In 2012, The Rodale Institute announced the establishment of the Ratana and Arran Stephens Scholarship Fund, awarding scholarships to war veterans who are students of organic agriculture, made possible through a donation from Nature's Path.
In 2013, Stephens was honored as recipient of the first-ever Leadership Award for Character, Vision, and Impact at The Leadership Institute's launch event. He was also awarded the New Hope Hall of Legends Award, which celebrates individuals who have made significant contributions to the development and evolution of the natural products industry.
Stephens has authored two books: Journey to the Luminous (Elton-Wolf, 1999), Moth & the Flame and co-authored with Eliot Jay Rosen, The Compassionate Diet—How What You Eat Can Change Your Life and Save the Planet (Rodale Books, 2011)
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