Murdock: Fruits, vegetables key to long life

David Murdock, the billionaire owner of the Dole Food Company, is a spry 91, and he attributes that to a diet solely of fruits, vegetables and nuts. And he wants to convince the rest of the U.S. to eat like him, starting with evidence from scientific studies from the N.C. Research Campus he funded.

“I eat only fruits and vegetables, nuts. I exercise and do the necessary things,” said Murdock. On Tuesday, he announced a new, $15 million annual gift to the center, to be continued in perpetuity. One of the center’s main goals is spreading the gospel of his diet, which eschews dairy, alcohol, sugar and red meat. “I can’t help but say the biggest thing I’m interested in is proper eating by everybody.”

“I’m 91 years old and I’m as healthy as any one of you here. That should be a good example of...proper eating, fruits and vegetables,” said Murdock, speaking afterward with a group of reporters. “Not hamburgers. Not cheese. Not hotdogs. Those are all the things that are very injurious to your body and injurious to your brain.”

Except for being a bit hard-of-hearing, Murdock appears to be in good health. He walks without a cane, stands straight in his double-breasted suit and speaks loudly enough to make his deep voice echo down the hallway.

“I believe that proper eating will help all sorts of diseases. I can’t say it will cure but I can say it will materially help,” said Murdock. “Unless you’re too far gone. Once you’ve almost killed yourself with improper eating, you can’t just correct that.”

He’s optimistic that more of the U.S. is starting to see things his way.

“People are beginning to realize that people are dying because they eat improperly,” said Murdock. According to a 2011 New York Times profile of Murdock, his diet includes regular smoothies with banana peels and orange rinds, to help boost his fiber intake.

Murdock isn’t above a little cheating, however. But he doesn’t feel good about it.

“I once in a while cheat and have a little ice cream, and then I kind of blame myself. So I give myself hell, you know,” he said. “But I don’t do that very often. It’s OK to cheat once in awhile on yourself. But it’s not good to eat that way every day of your life.”