Last modified on January 26, 2020, at 04:53

Frank Ford

Jesse Frank Ford​, Jr.

(Founder of Arrowheas Mills; pioneer of the American
natural foods industry)​

Born January 16, 1933​
Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas, USA

Resident of Irvine, Orange County, California

Died February 2, 2011 (aged 78)
Fallbrook, San Diego County,
Political Party Democrat
Spouse (1) Marjorie Winn Ford (divorced)

(2) Shwu Ching Hahn Ford
Children from first marriage:
Davis W. Ford
Cindy Skypala
Susan Lee Ford
Dan Ford[1]
Mr. and Mrs. Jess F. Ford, Sr. Alma mater:
Texas A&M University

Religion Nondenominational Christian

Jesse Frank Ford, Jr., known as Frank Ford (January 16, 1933 – February 2, 2011), was a Texas farmer and health-foods advocate who in 1960 founded Arrowhead Mills, the largest natural foods wholesaler in the United States. The company is based in his native Hereford in Deaf Smith County west of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. Arrowhead Mills removes impurities from corn and wheat and farms without pesticides.​


​ Ford was the son of Jesse Ford, Sr. (1894–1969). As a teenager, Ford worked in a grocery store in Hereford. He graduated in 1955 from Texas A&M University in College Station with a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy. He was commander of theTAMU Corps of Cadets and served in the United States Army and the Texas National Guard. He was active in the Campus Crusade for Christ and its related Athletes in Action. Himself nondenominational, Ford supported the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and advocated a "less-is-more" approach to living and spirituality.[2]

Arrowhead Mills

Arrowhead Mills operates four warehouses, containing more than 30,000 square feet of storage space, and holds tons of food for shipment to a nationwide network of distributors.[3]

Ford sought to provide large-scale stone grinding of grain and to maintain natural soil nutrition. He took the view that all farming should first maintain and then improve the soil. He served as chairman of the National Nutritional Food Association.[2] During the formative years of Arrowhead Mills, Ford personally did most of the growing, grinding, sacking, trucking, warehousing, shipping, and bookkeeping. Slowly, the investment of time, money, and energy began to pay dividends from the increased national awareness of organic foods and sound nutrition.[3] Ford also was an advertising spokesman for the natural food industry during the 1960s and 1970s.[4][2]

Ford said that he is convinced that "the natural-foods movement is [not] over the hill at all. In fact, I think it's just coming into its own. The rest of the country is finally beginning to realize that we have to conserve our resources and utilize them correctly ... that whole foods are best and natural growing methods are really the most efficient."[3]

Three books

  • New Harvest, a collection of his reflections and verse on national spiritual rejuvenation​.
  • Pack to Nature: Nutrition Made Easy in the Home or in the Woods (both from Harvest Publishing Company of Fort Worth). The third edition was retitled and released as The Simpler Life Cookbook-From Arrowhead Mills in 1974 by Harvest Publishing Company.​
  • The Deaf Smith Country Cookbook, available through Macmillan.[3]

Social and political activist

Ford claimed to represent the "common man" in public affairs. A labor activist, he tried to pay higher wages at Arrowhead Mills than other such companies offer. He never drew a salary from the company that was more than three times that of his lowest-paid employee.[2] Ford was a spokesman for small farmers through his position on an agricultural advisory committee in Washington, D.C. He helped to formulate plans for sewage recycling projects.[3] In the 1980s, he led the opposition to an attempt by the United States Department of Energy to locate a nuclear waste site in Deaf Smith County, an action which Ford claimed would have imperiled Arrowhead Mills as well as the pivotal Ogallala Aquifer, the source of most water in West Texas.. The site was instead located at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.[2]

In 1999, Ford sold Arrowhead Mills to the Hain Celestial Group of Melville, New York, which maintains its public relations office in Boulder, Colorado. At the time, Arrowhead offered more than two hundred items.[2]​ ​ Ford thereafter retired to Irvine, in Orange County in southern California. In 2008, he filed as a Democratic candidate for the District 49 seat in the United States House of Representatives to oppose the Republican incumbent Darrell Issa of Vista in northern San Diego County. Ford withdrew from the primary because of health considerations. Issa defeated Democrat Robert "Bob" Hamilton of Fallbrook, also in San Diego County, in the November 4 general election.[5]

When Issa retired from Congress in 2019, his House seat went to a Democrat, Michael Ted Levin.


  1. J. Frank Ford, Jr., obituary. The Amarillo Globe-News (February 8, 2011). Retrieved on January 26, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Jim Matthews of San Antonio, Texas, "Frank Ford: A Natural Food Man in the Cowboy West,"West Texas Historical Association, annual meeting, Canyon, Texas, April 4, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Susan and Bruce Williamson (September 1, 1974). Frank Ford Frank Ford: Founder of Arrowhead Mills: Arrowhead Mills founder Frank Ford discusses his years-long struggle to establish a successful company, and the future prospects of organic agriculture. Mother Earth News. Retrieved on January 24, 2020.
  4. Frank Ford. Retrieved on April 12, 2008; no longer accessible on-line.
  5. Vision: Robert Hamilton for Congress. Retrieved on April 15, 2008; no longer on-line.