FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Voting With Your Fork

Groups promoting political and cultural nationalism—Red Power, Black Power, Brown Power—created alternative food production and distribution systems such as co-ops. They also boycotted and struck against foods and practices they felt wronged people—farmworkers and low-wage laborers—or the environment. Through “for and against” philosophies expressed on T-shirts, recyclable bags, buttons, bumper stickers, books, and posters, countercultural advocates connected food and politics in ways that persisted into the 21st century.

Protest button, about 1970

Some of the most effective nationwide consumer boycotts and strikes, often lasting for years, were against big fruit and vegetable growers and bulk wine producers. Gift of Shirley Cherkasky.

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Cookbook for protestors, 1970s

Salad for Boycotters features recipes for lettuce-free salads. Gift of Shirley Cherkasky.

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Co-op bag, Cleveland, Ohio, 1971

Gift of Judy Chelnick

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“Food for People, Not for Profit,” 1999

“Food for People, Not for Profit,” 1999

First imagined by Marvella Lewis for the Maryland Food Co-Op and re-designed in 1999 by Gnarly Artly, the design of a fist punching through a sandwich incorporated the popular co-op motto used throughout the country.

Courtesy of Gnarly Artly

“The Maryland Food Co-op 10th Anniversary Party,” 1986

Gift of Roger Hecht

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Warren and Amy Belasco, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1972–73

Warren and Amy Belasco, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1972–73

The Belascos, at the time graduate students at the University of Michigan, raised corn and other vegetables in a field shared with members of a university-based co-op.  

Courtesy of Warren and Amy Belasco

Free Breakfast Program, 1969

Free Breakfast Program, 1969

Black Panther activists established free breakfast programs for children across the country to draw attention to hunger.  Bill Whitfield serves breakfast to children in Kansas City, Missouri.

Photo by William Straeter, courtesy of AP Images

 

Free Food Program, 1972

Free Food Program, 1972

Poor women in Palo Alto, California, receiving groceries from the Black Panther’s People’s Free Food Program.  

Courtesy of photographer Stephen Shames/Polaris