Appetite for Change

Appetite for Change: How the Counterculture Took On the Food Industry

WARREN J. BELASCO
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 2
Published by: Cornell University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt5hh1rm
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  • Book Info
    Appetite for Change
    Book Description:

    In this engaging inquiry, originally published in 1989 and now fully updated for the twenty-first century, Warren J. Belasco considers the rise of the "countercuisine" in the 1960s, the subsequent success of mainstream businesses in turning granola, herbal tea, and other "revolutionary" foodstuffs into profitable products; the popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets; and the increasing availability of organic foods.

    From reviews of the previous edition:

    "Although Red Zinger never became our national drink, food and eating changed in America as a result of the social revolution of the 1960s. According to Warren Belasco, there was political ferment at the dinner table as well as in the streets. In this lively and intelligent mixture of narrative history and cultural analysis, Belasco argues that middle-class America eats differently today than in the 1950 because of the way the counterculture raised the national consciousness about food."-Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Nation

    "This book documents not only how cultural rebels created a new set of foodways, brown rice and all, but also how American capitalists commercialized these innovations to their own economic advantage. Along the way, the author discusses the significant relationship between the rise of a 'countercuisine' and feminism, environmentalism, organic agriculture, health consciousness, the popularity of ethnic cuisine, radical economic theory, granola bars, and Natural Lite Beer. Never has history been such a good read!"-The Digest: A Review for the Interdisciplinary Study of Food

    "Now comes an examination of . . . the sweeping change in American eating habits ushered in by hippiedom in rebellion against middle-class America. . . . Appetite for Change tells how the food industry co-opted the health-food craze, discussing such hip capitalists as the founder of Celestial Seasonings teas; the rise of health-food cookbooks; how ethnic cuisine came to enjoy new popularity; and how watchdog agencies like the FDA served, arguably, more often as sleeping dogs than as vigilant ones."-Publishers Weekly

    "A challenging and sparkling book. . . . In Belasco's analysis, the ideology of an alternative cuisine was the most radical thrust of the entire counterculture and the one carrying the most realistic and urgently necessary blueprint for structural social change."-Food and Foodways

    "Here is meat, or perhaps miso, for those who want an overview of the social and economic forces behind the changes in our food supply. . . . This is a thought-provoking and pioneering examination of recent events that are still very much part of the present."-Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-7127-8
    Subjects: History, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE TO THE SECOND UPDATED EDITION
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. 1-12)
  5. PART ONE: REBELLION:: THE MAKING OF A COUNTERCUISINE
    • 1 AN EDIBLE DYNAMIC
      (pp. 15-28)

      If French gourmand Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) was right and we are what we eat, then what does that make us? More than a mixture of nutrients, food is a metaphor for what we like most or least about our society. To marshal self-satisfaction, mainstream politicians use reassuring images like “Mom and apple pie,” “milk and honey,” “bringing home the bacon,” “meat and potatoes,” “a chicken in every pot,” grits, jelly beans, and pork rinds. Conversely, social critics may consider such staples “unhealthy,” “poisonous,” or “junk.” Indeed, throughout American history, food fights have often accompanied grass roots political struggles. Thus, in...

    • 2 RADICAL CONSUMERISM
      (pp. 29-42)

      The close link between personal life and politics was most evident in the underground food columns, e.g., Alice Waters’s “Alice’s Restaurant” in theSan Francisco Express Times; Good Times’s “Eat and Enjoy” feature, written first by movement veteran Barbara Garson, then Jeanie Darlington (San Francisco);Quicksilver Times’s anonymous “food and fun” (D.C.);Fifth Estate’s “Eat It!” by Judie Davis (Detroit);Kaleidoscope’s “Politix of Garbage” by “Sally Soybean” and “Annie Avocado” (Milwaukee); the widely syndicated “Grub Bag” by Ita Jones and “Peasant’s Pot” by Jay Melugin; and numerous columns titled “Food for Thought” and “You Are What You Eat.” Recruiting for...

    • 3 RADICAL THERAPY: THE OPPOSITIONAL IDENTITY
      (pp. 43-67)

      The counterculture went natural not only for survival but also for fulfillment. Dietary primitivism would purge and protect you, but it would also make you well—even happy. Like most young leftists, ecofreaks saw no reason why radicalism could not be enjoyable. Like most bohemians, they rejected deferred gratification. What kind of new society could come out of joyless self-denial? The charm—and fragility—of the insurgency was that it honestly believed (or hoped) that you could survive Armageddon, start all over,andhave fun along the way.

      Part of the fun came in romantically relishing the paradoxes.¹ Natural foods...

    • 4 ORGANIC FORCE: AN ALTERNATIVE INFRASTRUCTURE
      (pp. 68-108)

      To be self-sustaining, a cuisine needs more than ideas about food; it also needs the food itself—and a separate infrastructure to supply it. As the countercuisine evolved, the ideological changes often came first, sometimes accidentally and experimentally, sometimes drug-related, sometimes tied to apocalyptic or mystical visions. Experiments in radically different ways of growing, distributing, and retailing food came next—along with numerous books hoping to publicize and perpetuate the initial gains. These efforts were at once realistic and utopian: realistic because they were determined to do the hard work of coming up with p racticalal ternatives, utopian because these...

  6. PART TWO: PROCESSING IDEOLOGY:: THE MORAL PANIC
    • 5 THE ORTHODOX DEFENSE: THE WAR OF THE METAPHORS
      (pp. 111-131)

      The food industry zeroed in its big guns on the insurgency right away. If the countercuisine functioned through networking, so did mainstream cuisine. A loose alliance of agribusiness firms, government agencies, scientific authorities, and mass media writers, this food establishment helped to distinguish what was considered “healthy” from what was considered “faddish,” “balanced” from “extreme,” prudent from foolish, safe from harmful. In the 1970s there was a lot of mopping up to do.

      The ideological heavyweights generally agreed that organic force was dangerous—and it was! As critic Jim Hightower putitin 1975, although the $500 million organic foods business posed...

    • 6 THE MESS IN WASHINGTON
      (pp. 132-153)

      While radicals had little use for central government—and certainly not for the Nixon administration—mainstream consumers had grown accustomed to looking to Washington for help in deciding questions of food system safety and control. Most now accepted the Progressive/New Deal argument that private individuals could not oversee the economically elaborate and geographcally elongated route from farm to dinner table. Barring a radical shift to the intimate, localized commissariat of the organic paradigm, public officials would have to scrutinize hidden practices of food production and processing. Given this impossibly complex food chain, the public needed to feel thatsomeonein...

    • 7 THE PRESS: SHIFTING THE CENTER
      (pp. 154-182)

      No wonder everyone cursed the press. In the ideological battles of the 1970s, every contender needed it badly. The countercuisine needed and used the press to gain attention, converts, and resources. Orthodoxy needed the simple metaphors, colorful anecdotes, and snappy prose ofVogue, Good Housekeeping, andLifeto dramatize the otherwise drab arguments ofFood Engineering, Nutrition Reviews,andFDA Consumer. The government needed the press to foster an aura of control and confidence, expertise and order.

      The target of all this information—the consuming public—also needed the media. The traditional sources of nutritional wisdom—mother, friends and relatives,...

  7. PART THREE: MARKETERS:: HEALTHY PROFITS
    • 8 OPPORTUNISM IN THE MARKETPLACE
      (pp. 185-199)

      What the true believers in the laboratories and research divisions were preaching was indeed being subverted by the sales-oriented executives in the front office. AsFood Technologydefended friendly chemicals and blasted Mother Nature,Advertising Agechronicled the latest additive-free, “all-natural” rollouts. Throughout the 1970s, food engineers berated food marketers not to give in to what seemed a press-driven “hysreria.”Anycompromise with faddism might increase fears, encourage further government regulation, and divert resources. The worst thing, diehards warned, would be to add even just a few new products that were low in additives, sodium, fat, or whatever, for such...

    • 9 STRADDLING THE CONTRADICTIONS
      (pp. 200-217)

      The demographics of health consciousness were established by the mid-seventies, but it took the rest of the decade to define and categorize the extent and nature of that concern. It was not enough to know that the affluent were more likely to buy health-related products. Marketers also needed to know more precisely what these affluent people were worried about.

      Always a business fact of life, uncertainty seemed especially prevalent in the 1970s. The scientific debate over food safety was leading nowhere except to greater doubt. Would the experts, bureaucrats, and politicians ever agree? Would exasperated voters push for more government...

    • 10 A HEALTHY FOODS PORTFOLIO
      (pp. 218-242)

      Hedging bets and juggling contradictions, the food industry did first what it did best: add value. As early as 1971, cereal manufacturers sprayed vitamins on flakes, bakers added fiber to breads, and grocers stocked dietary supplements. Alleviating worries about “too little,” nutrification was convenient and undisruptive. Rather than changing basic production modes, manufacturers simply added back what they had taken out—and raised the price. By adding two cents worth of nutrients to Wheaties and renaming them Total, General Mills could charge thirty-eight cents more for a twelve-ounce box. When new micronutrients were discovered and RDAs were adjusted, taking another...

    • 11 LOOKING BACKWARD, AND FORWARD
      (pp. 243-256)

      As a humanist, I do not relish apocalyptic endings that deny our ability to influence the future. Nor, as a historian, do I believe in cycles, which blur historical awareness and thereby allow instant mashed potatoes to be paraded as traditional home cooking, or worse, imply that because everything eventually returns, we might as well stop worrying and enjoy the spin. Rather, I do worry about the food I eat, as well as about the society in which I live. We are stuck with the consequences of the Vietnam War era, both culinary and social. One way to assess these...

  8. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 257-258)
  9. NOTES
    (pp. 259-314)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 315-328)