A lively, informative look at the transformative potential of a mission-driven niche industry.

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NATURAL PROPHETS

FROM HEALTH FOODS TO WHOLE FOODS—HOW THE PIONEERS OF THE INDUSTRY CHANGED THE WAY WE EAT AND RESHAPED AMERICAN BUSINESS

Marketer, management scholar and journalist Dobrow chronicles how natural and organic foods were transformed from the pursuit of a few idealists to a thriving, multibillion-dollar industry.

The author examines the whole food movement from the postwar period, when alarm bells began ringing about the proliferation of chemicals and nuclear waste. He traces its “philosophical but impractical development by idealistic children of the sixties” to the 1980s and ’90s, when an ambitious group of opportunists laid the foundation for “its current state as a bubbling crucible of mission-driven entrepreneurial activity.” Calling it “one of the great ironic twists in modern history,” Dobrow chronicles how the vision of the early counterculture, which embraced environmentalism but rejected the capitalist get-rich-quick ethos, was transformed into the successful business plan of “some of the most successful capitalists of our time.” In the process, the author introduces a fascinating cast of characters less well known than the heroes of Silicon Valley but arguably equally influential in transforming the way we live and work. Including the CEOs who put Whole Foods, Stonyfield Farm and Trader Joe’s on the map, they have made a “larger contribution to the health and sustainability of the planet and the humans who ride on it than just about anyone else in the modern era.” Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, one of the key players, typifies this group of mission-oriented business leaders. He has fostered a highly competitive leadership group with an eye to the bottom line while maintaining the quality of the produce on the shelves of an expanding empire of stores. Mergers, acquisitions, vertical organization with private labels and branding were all important. These days, conventional food manufacturers such as Quaker and Kraft are also marketing health foods, yet with “natural foods only represent[ing] 5 percent of total food sales,” there remains much to be done.

A lively, informative look at the transformative potential of a mission-driven niche industry.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62336-179-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Rodale

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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