WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO MOM'S APPLE PIE? by John Keats

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO MOM'S APPLE PIE?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Keats, who's commented over the years on the ailments and idiocies of modern American culture, emits a heartfelt personal protest against the high-priced ""swill"" that supermarkets and food processors pass off as food. ""I will idyll you no idylls,"" he promises, but doesn't mean it. The nostalgia-drenched yearning for fresh produce, meats without chemicals and real bread is there on every page. Well, why not? The indictment of the food industry is valid, if oft-heard: quality and variety diminish as prices soar because middlemen prey on middlemen, processors remove nutrients and substitute chemicals, supermarkets consider kickbacks a normal part of business. Greyhound grows Thanksgiving turkeys; Dow Chemical is in the lettuce business; Smithfield hams are an ITT&T special. You can read about it in William Robbins' The American Food Scandal (1974) and Keats multiplies the depressing examples: ethylene gas gives our tomatoes their lush color; Frank Perdue's chickens are yellow because they eat marigold petals. Who can deny that we've lost our ""intimate and obvious"" relationship to food growing? But Keats' mouthwatering descriptions of the wild pigeons and oysters the old folks ate back before WW I is, to say the least, suspect. A single 1917 cookbook doesn't constitute proof that four-course feasts were the norm. As for the remedies, they boil down to ""getting back to basics,"" and not selling that nutritious mess of pottage that's your birthright for a McDonald's sawdust pattie.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1976
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin