We’re all just a bunch of easygoing hippies–at least where are stomachs are concerned. Skeptical? Jonathan Kauffman, IACP and James Beard Award-winning food writer, unpacks the impact of this colorful group of people on our current diet in his book Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat (William Morrow). 

Sprouts, tofu, yogurt, brown rice and whole grain bread—all these lovely food products that have become staples in our diet were once part of a counterculture movement in the 1960s or 70s. I know what you must be thinking, yogurt seems the least likely food group to scream rebellion. But during WWII, the convenience of speedy packaged meals especially marginalized the importance of healthy and fresh ingredients. During Richard Nixon’s presidency, many large farming industries held monopolies on heavily processed foods and canned veggies. 

Kauffman gives credit to immigration reform in the 60s for allowing more immigrants to breathe new life into our eating habits, specifically the Japanese for their principles of macrobiotics. These kinds of historical events are unpacked with plenty of statistics to back up his points, but also accompanied with a wry sense of humor that adds personality to the pages.

Looking through a cultural lens, Kauffman investigates how the hippie subculture made organic foods the rage and turned co-ops into burgeoning businesses and lifestyles. Interviewing those who belonged to the subculture at that time, farmers and restaurateurs, Kauffman uncovers the evolution on how food has been harvested and marketed to the American public. 

His approach is well-researched, and it is apparent he’s travelled to many different states in order to compile a detailed and engaging resource for anyone who has ever wondered how or why we eat the way we eat.  

Many will take great comfort and enjoyment to read on how their beloved Small Planet and Moosewood cookbooks rose to popularity, as well as the plentiful options for vegetarians in supermarkets. Hippie Food encourages self-reflection on the range of our own diets, and appreciation for the flower children that established its sustainable roots. 

Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat is now available to purchase.

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Author Jonathan Kauffman is seen on Friday, March 3, 2017 in San Francisco, Calif.

A line cook turned journalist, Jonathan Kauffman is an IACP and James Beard Award-winning staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle. He served as the restaurant critic at East Bay ExpressSeattle Weekly, and SF Weekly as well as the San Francisco editor at Tasting Table. He has contributed regularly to San Francisco magazine and Lucky Peach, and has written for the New Yorker and Wine & Spirits. His articles have been anthologized in several editions of Best Food Writing. A native of Indiana, he now lives in San Francisco.