Two people share bread and vegetables over a wooden table.

Healthy foods like yogurt, brown rice and tofu were not always the familiar staples in the American diet that they are today. In his new book “Hippie Food” Jonathan Kauffman provides a narrative history of how the fringe and counterculture movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s made whole foods part of the mainstream. Kauffman chronicles the transition from the preserved and processed products born post-WWII to the modern diet rich in vegetables and grains. And we want to hear from you: Did you grow up eating “hippie foods”? How did they shape your childhood?

Related Links:
How Carob Traumatized a Generation (The New Yorker)

Jonathan Kauffman on How ’60s Revolutionaries Changed America’s Food 9 February,2018Mina Kim

Jonathan Kauffman, staff writer, San Francisco Chronicle; author, "Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat"

  • soulquest7

    Is this radio show stored anywere?

  • geraldfnord

    I’ve suggested a bumper-sticker:

    If You Like Good Bread, Thank a Hippie

    • marte48

      don’t forget comfortable shoes.

      • Another Mike

        Birkenstocks? With their unforgiving cork soles, they transmit shocks directly to the knees.
        The Earth shoe was interesting with its negative heels. I still have a pair, made by Roots.

    • Another Mike

      There were wonderful breads available to me in the 60s that disappeared years ago. The corner store sold sourdough rye loaves that were heaped on the counter, with a small identifying label pasted on the heel. Delicious fresh, but even better toasted.

  • geraldfnord

    For a segment of the upper-middle—class (of all faiths and backgrounds) shopping at Whole Foods has become a sort of kashrus, down to only eating meat from there except at restaurants.

  • Noelle

    I remember trail mix becoming a thing in the 1970s. In Santa Barbara there was the Sunrise Natural Foods store which was run by a commune. I went with my mom there and we were definitely not hippies, but we did hike and brought trail mix. I also remember they had carob, which is a poor substitute for chocolate. Can anyone enlighten me as to why carob was a a thing as well?

    • Bill_Woods


      • Noelle

        Yes, I’ve noticed the proliferation of chocolate in the past 20 years, maybe the price is lower now. But then there is the ultraboutique expensive chocolate trend too.

    • Another Mike

      Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, while carob has neither.

      Remember when trail mix was called “gorp” (good old raisins and peanuts)?

  • Noelle

    Before the counterculture, the 7th Day Adventists were pioneers of health food, with most of their adherents being vegetarians. there is a large Adventist population in Loma Linda(So Cal). They also have(still) Country Life vegetarian restaurants.

    • geraldfnord

      Dr Bronner started in the ’50s, I believe influenced by the Adventists, for all that he claimed to be a rabbi. (Then again, some Adventists aren’t Trinitarian.)

      • Noelle

        There is an interesting documentary out there about Dr. Bronner.

        • geraldfnord

          I wish his son hadn’t added all that hemp oil; then again, many Bronner buyers seemingly stopped being able to smell cheap cannabis years ago.

    • Another Mike

      The father of the Kellogg brothers, John and Will, became a follower of Ellen White while living in Michigan. John got a medical degree and became manager of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, while Will focused his efforts on the breakfast cereal. White expelled both brothers from the church in 1907. From a single sanitarium, the Adventists have 80 hospitals today.

      Andrews University is a 7th Day Adventist school, located in the Michigan fruit belt, not terribly far from Battle Creek.

  • geraldfnord

    (Sorry to over-post—last one:)

    0.) Dropping-out was largely facilitated by the extreme cheapness of food made possible by industrialised agriculture.
    1.) ‘Health’ -food-stores were frequently bastions of right-wing nuttery—Nazi and Bircher pamphlets were common…some connexion with Hitler’s enthusiasms (despite all the liver dumplings) and antifluoridation. Then again, not a few hippies wound-up reactionary.
    2.) ‘Nature Boy’ was a hit song in 1948.

    • Another Mike

      A friend of mine joined a commune when she was a teen. Unfortunately her fellow communards were upper middle class, with no experience growing anything. She actually got scurvy from the lack of nutritious foods.

  • marte48

    I had a friend in the 1970’s who was such a fanatic about vegetarianism that her newborn baby nearly died of B Vitamin deficiency. When she finally took her unresponsive baby to the hospital, they told her that they had only seen 3 cases of fatal B Vitamin deficiency, and her baby was one of them. Please remind your listeners that we are omnivores.

    • geraldfnord

      Some people refuse to carefully examine their own teeth.

  • Anne Papale Kellogg

    I grew up back east in the 60’s and 70’s and at lunch when all my classmates were eating baloney sandwiches my sisters and I would be eating vegetable and cheese omelets with garlic served on whole grain or rye toasted bread made by my Dad. I devoured these delicious sandwiches, but all my classmates would say my food smelled bad and they would slide down the other end of the bench at the lunch table.

  • jurgispilis

    brewers yeast, yum.

  • marte48

    In spite of my previous comment, vegetarianism is better for the health of the planet. The meat industry is inhumane, unhealthy, and bad for the environment.

  • Karen Neilsen Barry

    I had 2 children in the early 70s. I ate VERY healthy in general, so when I was pregnant, I made this terrible “smoothy” of distilled water, brewer’s yeast and dessicated liver EVERY day! I had to hold my nose when I drank it down.

  • marte48

    My WWII parents were used to growing a “victory garden.” We grew up on homegrown veges.

  • Heather Gonzalez

    My mom was also a “health nut,” so I grew up with organic foods, wheat grass, etc. (Tomato chip cookies! Yeah, they tasted as good as they sound.) As an adult, I am amused and annoyed in equal measure by friends who didn’t grow up this way and who now proselytize to me about organic/GMO/cleansing, etc. – as if they, themselves, have discovered this crazy unknown thing called healthy eating.

  • jonrysh

    What do you about the Madison WI farmers’ market on the Capitol Square, which was already big in the early 1970s and which still exists.

  • Another Mike

    The biggest change in the American diet between the 50s and the 60s was an abrupt drop in egg consumption, as cholesterol became a no-no. Eggs had formed a lot of the “meatless meals” in those days — omelettes at least.

    Will egg consumption ever go back up?

  • Robert Thomas

    Luckily For Me my mother was a firm believer in Better Living, Through Chemistry. The macrobiotic crowd were comical morons.

    Thank goodness thank goodness thank goodness thank goodness.

    My first-year physics professor touted his carob-covered raisins as a snack. They were ghastly.

    I made friends with a kid in 7th grade whose Dutch-Moluccan mother packed him hagelslag sandwiches – white chocolate butter with dark chocolate sprinkles. All of his friends were OUTRAGED that this had been denied the rest of us. Hagelslag:

  • Noelle

    The Farm in TN is still around.

  • Another Mike

    I am informed that asparagine resides in vegetables other than asparagus.

    • Robert Thomas

      Those who eat nothing at all rarely succumb to cancer.

  • EmilyHG

    This program brings back the memories of my ’90s childhood in southern Ontario. Raised by my hippie-ish father, we were always stuck with porridge, powdered milk, pea soup & sardines, and the highlight of my week was the after church lunch at my uncles of Mac n cheese and hotdogs. Fun side note: I actually had some Trader Joes pea soup the other day, and loved it!

  • purplebeetsalad

    I grew up on standard american diet in NJ in the 1970’s and 80’s. This food disgusted me. By the time, I came to Cali in 1989, I literally ate up all the vegetables and whole grains. I already was a vegetarian. I continued eating as whole and happy as possible. BUT, my youngest daughter who is now 16, she can’t eat this way. She is really sensitive. I wish that it had been easier to navigate and find facts about customizing food. I often felt like I was overwhelmed and living blind in this food movement.

  • purplebeetsalad

    Also, please know that there is an insidious side to this movement. I lived with people in Hawaii who were aggressive fruitarians. Self righteousness became a stool for violence against ‘normal’ people.

    • Robert Thomas

      I can imagine that this was a legitimately disturbing thing but I’m mesmerized by the phrase “aggressive fruitarians”.

      Keep Hawai’ian lands, in Hawai’ian hands…

  • William – SF

    As children, me and my seven (at the time) siblings experienced an antidote to whole foods as we sat at our dining room table and watched as our dad clumsily unwrapped various little dark green packages, some in tin, and prepared us lunch. It was remarkable not only because we never saw him at lunch, but it was also the first time he served us food. He made many trips back and forth between the kitchen and our table as he brought over little odd looking foods. We were quite excited by the possibility of foregoing yet-another peanut butter and jam sandwich on white bread. Bypassing the blessing he encouraged us to partake – oddly he did not. As we sampled the food it became clear that our normal lunch had been replaced with something that more closely resembled dirt. “Military rations” he said proudly and with an air of mystery. Our collective disinterest and unsolicited suggestions for a more proper lunch only made him more insistent that we should eat what was given us and that there would not be an alternative. He would soon be out of our lives.

  • George Golubev

    don’t forget comfortable shoes.

  • Michael Polidori

    This article should be better researched and rewritten. Tofu is not a health food.

    Also some of the commenters, in spite of appearing to have too much time on their hands, fail to constructively or factually comment…

    Uncontaminated food and clean water are most important, essential, for healthy development in our kids and maintaining health for adults of all ages. Too many of our foods are so heavily processed they can be UNhealthy.

    Most of us need to “give it a tink”…


Mina Kim

Mina Kim is KQED News’ evening anchor and the Friday host of Forum. She reports on a wide range of issues affecting the Bay Area and interviews newsmakers, local leaders and innovators.

Mina started her career in public radio at KQED as an intern with Pacific Time. When the station began expanding its local news coverage in 2010, she became a general assignment reporter, then health reporter for The California Report. Mina’s award-winning stories have included on-the-scene reporting of the 2014 Napa earthquake and a series on gun violence in Oakland.

Her work has been recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association.

Mina grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Oak Park, CA. She lives in Napa.

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