Warning against the artificial additives, processed foods and preservatives that were proliferating in the American diet, Mrs. Hunter wrote, “Foods treated in this manner may appear brighter and last longer, but the people who eat them don’t.”
She for one lasted longer, she recalled, in part because she had changed her own eating habits as a teenager after feeling fatigued and suffering from straggly hair and bad skin.
Blaming a terrible diet, she had also endured a childhood bout of rickets, which can cause bone deformities, stemming from a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D can be derived from fish oil, egg yolks, milk and sunlight.
Then she read “100,000,000 Guinea Pigs,” a best-selling book by Arthur Kallet and Frederick J. Schlink published in 1933 whose title refers to the size of the nation’s population at the time. The book was considered a catalyst for the strengthening of the Food and Drug Administration with the passage of The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938.
“The first thing I did was to cut out sugar,” Mrs. Hunter told Yankee magazine in 2015, “and then I began to use more whole grains and more fresh vegetables and fruits.”
After teaching visually impaired and intellectually gifted students in New York and New Jersey, she decamped permanently in 1955 with her husband, John, to a white two-story farmhouse on 78 acres that they had bought for $1,800 six years before in Deering, a southern New Hampshire village of about 300 people.
They were joined there by her mother-in-law, Lotte Jacobi, a German Jew, who had fled the Nazis in 1935. A renowned photographer, Ms. Jacobi opened a…