FRUIT ILLUSTRATIONS: VISUAL LANGUAGE
The grounds near his Georgian-style home are dotted with dozens of towering white multi-ton boulders that Murdock found in Thailand’s River Kwai
and had transported to California. They serve as
natural columns for promenades that lead to a conservatory, several pagodas, a variety of gardens and
other areas on the property.
When he’s not traveling to one of the 94 countries where Dole has businesses, Murdock arises
around 5: 30 a.m. and spends two hours reading (and
two more each night). He has delegated some business responsibilities to others, but he still has a
hands-on role in all activities at Dole and Castle &
Cooke. Forbes magazine ranks him as America’s
84th-richest man, with a net worth of $4.4 billion.
He’s a vegetarian but eats fish, and he exercises like a
much younger person nearly every day, lifting weights
in his upstairs gym, doing yoga, pedaling his bike or
riding one of his world-class Arabians, which he
stables on his farm.
There are a couple of other things to know about
Murdock. He grew up dirt poor in rural Ohio and
started working at age 13, hoeing cornfields and
cleaning out chicken and duck coops. He dropped
out of school before he turned 15, later learning that
the reason he couldn’t do math and write on paper
was because he was dyslexic. He’s a slight man with
thick white eyebrows that furrow when he’s particularly opinionated about a topic, such as the dangers of
saturated fats and the silly notion of retiring. He will
quote poets and philosophers (one mantra: “With all
thy getting, get thee knowledge,” which he pursues
ravenously), has little patience with weak-willed people, is admittedly strong-willed and will gladly, upon
request, recite the entirety of one of the numerous
poems he has committed to memory.
This is all noteworthy because, after spending
time with Murdock, one comes away with the belief
this octogenarian can indeed make a difference about
nutrition in America. He has the knowledge,
resources, experience, stubbornness, passion and
energy to get things done. And the vision. “In order to
do the impossible, you must see the invisible,” he says,
reciting another favorite saying—twice, for emphasis.
Focusing on nutrition
Twenty years ago, Gabriele Murdock, David’s
wife, died from cancer at age 42. He says he was
devastated, then started to ask questions:
Why does cancer afflict some people and
not others? What role does nutrition
play? He made drastic changes in his
lifestyle and began seeking the answers
to these questions.
One was establishing the Dole
Nutrition Institute, founded to teach
the public about the potential of a plant-
based diet to promote health and prevent
disease. The institute ( www.dolenutrition.
com) publishes a variety of cookbooks,
brochures, Web tips, videos and and the
free-subscription “Dole Nutrition News”
e-newsletter, all providing health tips.
With the help of the University of
California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the
Mayo Clinic, Murdock also oversaw the writing of the Encyclopedia of Foods, A Guide to Healthy
Nutrition, a 500-page opus on living a healthier lifestyle through improved nutrition. And in 2006, he
opened the California Health & Longevity Institute
( www.chli.com), a cutting-edge health and wellness
center, across from Dole’s headquarters in posh
Westlake Village, California.
But Murdock’s most ambitious project to date is
a huge private-public venture called the North
Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis,
North Carolina. In 2003, the once thriving Cannon
Mills plant in Kannapolis, 15 miles north of Charlotte,
closed after bankruptcy. Murdock purchased the plant
site, demolished the mill and invested some $1.5 billion of his personal funds to spearhead creation of a
world-class research hub to conduct breakthrough
research in nutrition, health and biotechnology. Its
goal is to lead the charge in discoveries that will change
the way the country and the world live.
The 350-acre campus, which opened in
October, has more than a million square feet of lab
COURTESY OF NORTH CAROLINA RESEARCH CAMPUS
David Murdock marks the topping off ceremony
at the North Carolina Research Campus in
Kannapolis, North Carolina. It will house world-leading experts and equipment to study
nutrition and food.
and office space to house researchers from Duke
University and seven North Carolina state universities, greenhouses, a health center, community
college facilities and eventually some 100 private
At the heart of the campus is the David H.
Murdock Core Laboratory Building, featuring some
of the world’s most sophisticated scientific equipment, which is available for use by everybody
on campus. The lab includes one particularly advanced machine: the 950 MHz
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