Jim Joseph, director of the Neuroscience Laboratory at the Jean Mayer Institute on Human Nutrition and Aging at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Boston, died on June 1. He was 66 years old.
Joseph was the co-author of the book “Color Code: A Revolutionary Eating Plan for Optimal Health.” This book was the driving force behind 5 a Day: The Color Way, a campaign that was nationwide by 2002, encouraging consumption of at least five servings of colorful fruits and vegetables per day.
He met many of his fellow researchers and friends after writing a paper about the effect of feeding whole wild blueberries to animals. His research showed marked improvement in brain and motor functions as well as a reverse in the effects of aging.
“We almost fell off our chairs when we looked at the data,” Barbara Shukitt-Hale, research psychologist at the Jean Mayer Institute, said.
Shukitt-Hale has worked 16 years in the small lab and said she owes it to the fun, friendly atmosphere Joseph created, treating everyone as an equal and bringing out the best in each researcher.
“He called it a family, and it really was,” Shukitt-Hale said.
His findings initiated a long business relationship and friendship with John Sauve, managing partner at the Swardlick Marketing Group, Portland, Maine.
“He had such a passion for life and was so involved in trying to do things that were good for people,” Sauve said.
Joseph’s work helped lead to the formation of the Bar Harbor Group, which consists of people from universities, hospitals and other nutrition research organizations.
“He was the most visible person there, the most outspoken, certainly,” Mary Ann Lila, faculty director of the Fruit and Vegetable Science Institute, Kannapolis, N.C., said. “He was larger than life.”
His funeral was June 8 in Plymouth, Mass., at St. Mary’s Church.