by Laura Steiger, Outreach Team
Jim Ehmke has been in the nutrition and health field since the 1970s, when knowledge that we now take for granted—like the health benefits of dietary fiber—was considered unsubstantiated and even controversial. Fiber! Really, 1970s?!
As a young adult, he developed an interest in natural foods and pursued a degree in nutrition.
Ehmke served on the first Board of Directors at Outpost Natural Food Co-op in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when board directors were selected by drawing straws … spaghetti straws! He was also involved in the formative days of the Wisconsin Natural Food Associates, an early champion of organic growers.
That was when he met his mentor, Victor Earl Irons, and to this day Ehmke still abides by Irons’ basic philosophy: “Eat only those foods that will spoil or rot, but eat them before they do.”
he founded the first integrative health practice in Wisconsin
In partnership with his wife, Karen Walker Ehmke, a registered dietitian, he founded the first integrative health practice in Wisconsin, originally named Wholistic Services. That’s “wholistic” with a “w”—not the customary “holistic”— because Ehmke believes in an integrative health philosophy encompassing the whole. The business grew into a health detective practice, serving clients with challenging health conditions that didn’t respond to conventional therapy and expanded to employ a wide range of innovative health practitioners.
Class Series: Take Control of Your Health
Ehmke’s Healthy Connections class series, Take Control of Your Health, has consistently been among the most popular at the Co-op since he started offering classes in 2009. The series has a theme of empowerment—understanding how your body works and how you can confidently take responsibility for your own health choices.
Rather than a static lecture format for his classes, class content develops organically based on the interest and knowledge base of the people attending. That is likely one reason people often repeat his classes two or more times and learn something new at each session. “The classes are also fun! We have a lot of laughs. It’s entertaining,” said Ehmke.
A few of Ehmke’s class participants have become diligent researchers and experts in their own rights and are invited to share their newfound expertise during class. Ehmke is also tutoring and mentoring some aspiring nutritionists and naturopaths.
"You can choose to take control of your health." -Jim Ehmke
His basic philosophy: “You have a choice. How you think. What you feel. You can choose to take control of your health and your thinking process. If you don’t choose, then you’ve chosen not to,” said Ehmke.
“We learn so little—next to nothing—about our bodies in K–12 education. There is no fundamental basic education on the body. How can we go through all this education and still know nothing about how our bodies function? People come back to my classes to get the 8th grade education that they never got before.”
Ready to Learn More?
Get educated and take control of your health! Start by attending one of Jim Ehmke’s Healthy Connections classes or attend one or more of the Co-op Wellness Talks hosted by Ehmke and a variety of other health and wellness experts during Focus on Health: Wellness Day at the Downtown Co-op on January 12 from 1 to 3 pm.
Jim Ehmke is a licensed clinical nutritionist and health counselor in Bellingham. Learn more at goodtothelastdrop.com.