A gastronomic study of the gradual integration of organic food choices into public consumption.
San Francisco Chronicle James Beard Award–winning food journalist Kauffman, who worked as a line cook, gives overdue credit to an organic agricultural movement whose popularity spread like wildfire in the 1970s. He digs deeply into the evolution of the hippie counterculture and how particular foods became staples and how they were included on dinner tables across the world. Raised in the 1970s in an “ultraliberal” Mennonite community, the author writes that his family’s diet changed forever with the incorporation of the “earthy, fresh, and none too complex” foods featured in a 1976 copy of home economist Doris Janzen Longacre’s More-With-Less Cookbook. This ideal entails stripping cuisine “back to its preindustrial roots,” without pesticides, packaging, additives, or processing and devoid of meat. Kauffman tackles this subject journalistically, with interviews and commentary from the chefs and food co-op employees who became part of a larger movement to change the direction of the global diet while remaining mindful of its ecological footprint. He shows how formerly “fringe” foods like alfalfa sprouts, tofu, granola, carob, brown rice, and whole-wheat breads were popularized by the Southern California health-food and vitamin scene in the 1960s, as well as the “exotic” macrobiotic and whole food diets that proliferated in places like the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco. Moving forward, the author further analyzes the ways these naturally sourced foods developed into a distinctive cuisine touting both eco-friendly and mind-body benefits, and he documents the nationwide natural food revolution through the voices of organic farmers, homesteaders, and innovative vegetarian cooks. In an intelligently written narrative refreshingly free of personal admonitions or detractions, Kauffman comprehensively presents the history and the momentum of the organic food revolution while foraging for the keys to its increasing desirability and crossover appeal.
An astute, highly informative food exposé that educates without bias, leaving the culinary decision-making to readers.