FOOD: Transforming the American Table

Collective and Communal (page 2)

Homemade bean sprouter, about 1970

Gift of Shirley Cherkasky

Vegetarians and health-food gurus embraced fresh bean sprouts, a staple of Chinese and Southeast Asian cooking. Because sprouts were not available in standard grocery stores until the 1980s, adventurous cooks grew their own, using canning jars fitted with screened tops.

View object record

Rice cooker, about 1972

Gift of Rayna Green

Rice, an important part of regional cuisine in the southeastern and Gulf states, gained wider popularity in the 1960s. Brown rice, with hull intact, was one of the foods promoted in the new alternative diets. Rice cookers made it easier for cooks to incorporate this “new” ancient grain into everyday meals.

View object record

Yogurt maker, around 1973

Gift of Salton, Inc.

Consumed for centuries in many parts of the world, yogurt was little known in the United States before the 1960s. As new notions about its health benefits took hold, manufacturers capitalized on the do-it-yourself approach favored by counterculture cooks. Yogurt makers were popular in the 1970s and 1980s, but were abandoned as commercial brands of yogurt became more widely available.

View object record
Yogurt crock, early 1900s

Yogurt crock, early 1900s

Loan from Warren and Amy Belasco

Warren and Amy Belasco used this earthenware bean pot to make yogurt between 1970 and 2012. They placed the pot, filled with milk and a yogurt culture, in their gas oven, where it was warmed by the heat of the pilot light until it thickened.

Macrobiotics

George Ohsawa (1893–1966) developed the principles of the macrobiotic diet in the 1930s, but it was in the 1960s and 1970s that the diet found its most enthusiastic followers among the counterculture movement. Advocating a diet based on whole grains (especially brown rice), freshly prepared vegetables, fermented foods, and beans and legumes, the diet advised only minimal fish or other animal-based proteins.

One of Ohsawa’s protégés was Michio Kushi (1926–2014) who with his wife, Aveline, founded Erewhon Foods in Boston in 1966. During Kushi’s tenure as chairman, Erewhon Foods became one of the largest natural foods distributors in the country.

Zen Macrobiotics, 1965

Zen Macrobiotics, 1965

At the time it was published, George Ohsawa’s book was considered the primer of the Macrobiotic philosophy. The preface suggests that the volume “be considered as the guidebook whose aim is happiness→through health→through nutrition.”

Rice huller, 1985

Gift of Aveline and Michio Kushi

This machine removed the husk, the outermost layer of grains of rice, to produce brown rice. White rice production removes the layers beneath the husk (the bran and the germ), removing essential nutrients as well.

View object record

Packaged foods produced by the Kushi company included beans, dried vegetables, and other elements of a macrobiotic diet.

Premium brown rice koji

Gift of Aveline and Michio Kushi

View object record

Whole oat groats

Gift of Aveline and Michio Kushi

View object record

Aduki beans

Gift of Aveline and Michio Kushi

View object record