Although she doesn’t consider herself a trendsetter, Eleanor Goodman’s health-conscious lifestyle supports her belief that no matter what age we are, we can do almost anything we choose.
And being in the best of health is one of those choices.
“There’s nothing to stop us from doing anything. Just go do it,” said the energetic, free-spirited 87-year-old, the mother of Rachel Berliner, a co-founder of Amy’s Kitchen, the highly successful, Petaluma-based frozen food company.
Striving to be well is instrumental in Goodman’s quest to live a long, active and fruitful life, and to protect herself from the diseases of aging while enjoying lasting vitality and mental acuity. While that seems like a mouthful, it’s a summary of many small tastes of wisdom and preventive measures she’s taken from every aspect of her life and put into everything she knows.
An ardent world traveler who’s been to distant corners of the globe, including Asia, Africa, India and Europe, Goodman is a 33-year resident of Petaluma, although that could change at any time.
“What I love about Petaluma is its welcoming presence and great sense of tolerance,” said the Brooklyn native, who once sailed to Africa aboard a freighter. “But I could live almost anywhere. I’ve often been in countries where I’d love to stay forever.”
Goodman relocated to Southern California when she was 16, and several years later met and married Floyd Humphrey, the father of her children Joel and Rachel. As a young mother she attended Long Beach colleges before earning her Master’s Degree in library science from UCLA.
She developed an interest in healthy eating and natural healing many years ago, and has devoted her life to challenging the belief that as you age your health deteriorates.
“I’m saying that’s not necessarily true. We don’t know our potential,” said Goodman, who eschews pharmaceuticals and displays none of the ailments associated with aging. “People expect to be sick,” she says. “They accept it.”
To the contrary, Goodman is mobile and pain-free, and loves climbing the stairs leading to her home, often skipping a step and taking them two at a time. She practices Feldenkrais, an exercise therapy that is said to reorganize connections between the brain and body to improve movement and psychological state. Its gentle, mindful approach is thought to bring new awareness and possibility into one’s life, to reduce pain and improve well-being.
But even when healthy, life isn’t always great, Goodman allowed.
“Occasionally you’ve got to wallow. Life does suck at times,” she acknowledged. “I’m focused on breaking bad patterns and eliminating toxins. I’m on a limited-sugar diet and trying to improve my living situation by de-cluttering my kitchen.
“Right now,” she added, borrowing a line from French philosopher Voltaire, “I’m tending my own garden.”
She moved to Petaluma in 1985, to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law, Rachel and Andy Berliner. One evening, while the three of them were mulling over choices on what to do for income, they realized there weren’t any nourishing organic convenience foods available for health-conscious people, who are sometimes too busy to cook. They came up the idea of producing a healthy version of some of their favorite foods, like chicken potpie and cheese enchiladas, and their plans quickly mushroomed.
Following the birth of the Berliner’s daughter, Amy, in 1987, Goodman suggested they call their new venture, Amy’s Kitchen, after her granddaughter. With an expanding product line and proper marketing Amy’s Kitchen turned their penchant for healthy eating into a highly acclaimed business filling an important void in vegetarian and organic fast food products.