February 1, 2018

"A wry disgruntlement will forever unite those of us who were children during the height of the nineteen-seventies natural-foods movement."

"It was a time that we recall not for its principles—yes to organics, no to preservatives—but for its endless assaults on our tender young palates. There was brown rice that scoured our molars as we chewed, shedding gritty flecks of bran. There was watery homemade yogurt that resisted all attempts to mitigate its tartness. And, at the pinnacle of our dietary suffering, worse even than sprout sandwiches or fruit leather or whole-wheat scones, there was carob, the chocolate substitute that never could.In the nineteen-seventies, carob infiltrated food co-ops and baking books as if it had been sent on a COINTELPRO mission to alienate the left’s next generation...."

So begins "How Carob Traumatized a Generation" by Jonathan Kauffman (The New Yorker).

66 comments:

n.n said...

The story of carob, liberalism, and a great escape.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Carob was godawful. And so was (is) wheat germ. It was like sprinkling sawdust on your cereal.

Bad tasting "health food" isn't a thing of the past though. I was suckered into buying "Nutritional Yeast Powder" because it's supposed to be great for you and the article I read said it was a tasty topping for popcorn. It is not.

Stevia sucks too, although some don't mind it. It's got a nasty bitter aftertaste.

And soy "bacon" is dreadful and, for a supposedly healthy product, looks pretty artificial with unappetizing bubble gum pink and white stripes mimicking the real thing.

Best to stick to the real thing.

cubanbob said...

I actually liked the Hagen Daz carob ice cream.

Lucid said...

When I was young I remember seeing carob in the local health food store. I always wondered what it was supposed to replace. It seems even the proprietors felt like they couldn't push it.

Bay Area Guy said...

It's funny -- I was willing to concede that the Leftwing Hippies of the 60s and 70s actually got 1 thing right -- healthier food. But now this article reminds me of how horrendous carob actually tasted. Nearly as bad as tofu. So, I am rethinking my position.

Darrell said...

Too bad carob wasn't toxic.

exiledonmainstreet said...

A college friend of mine tried to follow the precepts of Adele Davis. Davis recommended taking black strap molasses and cod liver oil daily. My friend told me the cod liver oil was the worst thing she had ever tasted in her life and the rotten fish taste stayed with her all day, no matter how many times she brushed her teeth and gargled with Scope. She just kept burping it up. So long, Adele.

I told her there was a reason disobedient Victorian children were threatened with cod liver oil.

holdfast said...

I really did like the fruit leather.

Oso Negro said...

Carob was utter shit. Organic food generally was crappy back in the 1970s. But somehow, we convinced ourselves to eat it. Youth. Geez.

Ann Althouse said...

"Stevia sucks too, although some don't mind it. It's got a nasty bitter aftertaste."

Meade makes something I would like if he didn't taint it with stevia. It's horrible!

JaimeRoberto said...

I thought carob was ok. But I know chocolate, and carob, you are no chocolate.

Mrs Whatsit said...

This is so true. My brother once begged my all-things-organic mother for some "good old factory food."

mockturtle said...

I still eat that way, more or less. My Zojirushi rice cooker cooks brown rice to perfection. Don't use carob, though.

Bay Area Guy said...

How 'bout those hideous Tofu burgers?!!? Man, they nearly traumatized me.

tcrosse said...

Let us not forget that 70's Madison classic, the Gorilla Cookie. Yum yum !

buwaya said...

Silly fashions.

But on the other hand, their parents fed them and they grew up healthy (I assume).
In the meantime there were kids starving in x (somewhere, always).

bagoh20 said...

I love Stevia. Maybe it's the Stevia blend you need to try. I use it all day, every day. I love sweet, and always have, but if I got it from sugar, I'd be 600 lbs. I think all the other non-sugar sweeteners are bitter or inadequate, but Stevia, my beloved, we will always share a drink together.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

I like sprout sandwiches. With a little ham and cheese. Cold sprouts are also great on hot dogs.

RichardJohnson said...

Granted, I haven't tasted carob in years, but I I didn't mind the taste of carob. I used in in milkshakes.

Earnest Prole said...

I remember Ken Kesey saying "Even hippies hate carob."

Inga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meade said...

I was told by a professional ice cream maker I can't call my blue berry ice cream "ice cream." He suggested

"Blueberry Soup"

1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup half and half
5-10 drops of Stevia
Stir until stiff. Enjoy!

Yes, I've been eating them for six or seven [hundred] weeks now
Haven't got sick once
Probably keep us both alive

Inga said...

Why not use heavy cream to make your ice cream Meade?

glenn said...

All that time my kids were eating my wife’s beautiful balanced cooking. Meat, potatoes, veggies, fruit. My dietician mom was astonished.

Meade said...

You can. I just prefer half and half. Sometimes I use full fat yogurt, mixed frozen berries, a drop of vanilla.

It satisfies my craving for ice cream sort of like methadone works for a junkie.

Crimso said...

Euell Gibbons.

FIDO said...

Pritikin ruined my childhood.

rhhardin said...

Brown rice is okay. I haven't noticed anything distasteful about it.

Tim in Vermont said...

Hickory nuts and groat buiscuits. Euell Gibbons must still be around then, hanging out at hip hop clubs, dancing the nights away, nailing the young ladies.

Enough sugar, cream, and eggs, and carob would probably be fine.

rhhardin said...

Postum was always awful, if you wanted an alternative to coffee, but that was long before the 70s.

rhhardin said...

No Postum in the space program. Just Tang.

Darrell said...

Instead of carob, I substituted Frosties from Wendy's.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Urgh, sprout sandwiches. My parents went through a veggie phase, and that's what I got for lunch. Sprouts and shredded carrots.

Mary Martha said...

It was the bucket of natural peanut butter which you had to stir the oil into that scarred my childhood. My mother happily never went quite as far as carob.

To this day I only eat Jif or Skippy and refuse to believe that the newer 'natural' peanut butters are not like the old terrible ones.

MadisonMan said...

I tried Carob once. I think I got it at the Natural Food store that was on Regent (I recall hearing that the owner spent everything on drugs and the place went belly up, and then the Regent St Retreat went in the same place. I think. Time makes memory hazy). Anyway, one taste was enough. Carob was not chocolate, not close in any way. It tasted awful.

I can't go into the Willy Street Coop in madison -- none of their stores. The smell of the place is just awful to me. I don't know if it's the cleanser they use, the clientele, or what. But p. u.

Crimso said...

Not exactly along the same lines, but since some are noting less-than-acceptable substitutes: margarine instead of butter. Might as well drink 10w30.

Nurse Rooke said...

I'm laughing--this is a lot of my childhood, that blend of goofy techno food like space sticks and Tang plus exotic healthy food like homemade yogurt (meh), tofu (which I like), and carob (blech) plus suburban Soylent Greenish protein fillers plus the Armageddon food in huge cans my mother kept in case of nuclear disaster.

I'm curious about what my children will find more-or-less affectionately amusing.

Tarrou said...

Puritanical obsessions with food are as old as mankind. The same innate human idiocy that caused the writers of the Old Testament to ban all manner of porky goodness leads the modern vegan and crunchy moron to foist terrible food on their offspring. By their bitchtits ye shall know the soy-munchers.

MikeR said...

I always liked carob. Nothing to do with chocolate. It's just good.

Leslie Graves said...

@tcrosse I had a job for a year as the person who packed the original Guerilla (I think that's how it was spelled) cookies into plastic bags in a very cold warehouse on Bedford Street. I got paid per packed bag.

Sadly I have many food sins to reflect on from the 70s. I believed every word Adele Davis wrote, which means that the yogurt, spinach, liver and brewer's yeast were part of my diet. I had one of my sisters over for dinner once and it very much pains me to remember, I served her chicken livers in some kind of sauce the main ingredient of which was homemade yogurt, over brown rice.

When I think about this, I wince and reflect on the power that ideology can have over very basic common sense.

Ficta said...

I really like carob. I wonder if it's one of those foods that tastes really different to different people. Of course I only get some every two or three years, so it still makes me think of childhood, so that's probably part of it.

Kelly said...

Stevia gives me migraines which would figure, it’s the only artificial sweetener I like. I grew up in the 70’ and don’t remember carob or anything like it. Mom was a good old fashion cook down to boiling the crap out of the veggies.

Richard Dillman said...

Lived in Eugene, Oregon, in the 70’s, hippie central. Food coops everywhere. I liked carob but haven’t seen it in a store for years.
Apparently hallucinogenic mushrooms grew prolifically on my front lawn because I often found members of the neighborhood commune
harvesting them. I thought I saw Euell Gibbons harvesting them once as well, but I could have been mistaken.

We belonged to an innovative food coop called Growers Market, which I think still exists. In the 70’s neighborhood grocery stores in
Eugene were mostly food coops of some sort. I think we ate very well, caught our own salmon and trout, harvested bright red
crawfish, picked ubiquitous Oregon berries, caught our own dungeness crab. It was fun.

Char Char Binks said...

Jif is nothing but peanut-flavored Crisco. Peter Pan and Skippy are no better.

I eat a slice of whole wheat toast with REAL peanut butter with my coffee every morning, the kind of peanut butter that needs stirring, that I keep upside down in the fridge (so it needs stirring only once). I love it!

I wasn't brought up on "health food". I was brought up on a Gardner's white bread, high-carb, hot dogs, burgers, potatoes and hydrogenated oil American diet, much of it as disgusting as anything the children of hippies had to suffer through, or worse.

I sympathize with the flower children's children, but they probably had it better than I did, all told. Anyway, I try to eat from the best of both worlds, and other worlds, I suppose, now that I can choose my own food.

exiledonmainstreet said...

bagoh20 said...

I love Stevia. Maybe it's the Stevia blend you need to try."

I've tried all sorts of blends of Stevia, including the ones Stevia fans tell me are not bitter and they are all awful. I end up giving the stuff to my SIL, who feels like you do about Stevia. I'd rather use Sweet 'n Low than Stevia and I don't like Sweet 'n Low that much either.

The reactions to Stevia seem to be like the reactions to cilantro - if you like cilantro (I do), it's delicious and if you don't (my boyfriend hates it) it's soapy and horrible and ruins Thai and Mexican dishes.

Original Mike said...

”Euell Gibbons must still be around then, hanging out at hip hop clubs, dancing the nights away, nailing the young ladies.”

He died years ago. Of an ulcer.

mockturtle said...

I prefer natural, unsweetened peanut butter and yes, it has to be stirred and refrigerated.

When I need to sweeten things I use Splenda [or a generic equivalent].

Anonymous said...

I always liked carob. Nobody ever tried to pass it off as fake chocoloate to me (it fails utterly as a chocolate substitute - what a crazy idea).

Getting frozen yogurt with carob on top used to be a treat as a kid. Or - even newer and weirder - thick slushy "gelato", that is, Italian-style ice cream. Loved that stuff.

I also like that natural peanut butter. Our store used to have a machine that ground the peanuts in front of you.

exiledonmainstreet said...

When I was (briefly) a vegetarian, I bought "The Vegetarian Epicure" by Anna Thomas, which is as '70's hippy dippy as you can get. However, unlike Adele Davis, many of the recipes in "The Vegetarian Epicure" are good and I still own my tattered copy from the '70's. Every year at Christmas, I make her Polish Christmas Salad, a absolutely delicious composed salad with lots of eggs and vegetables. Now people expect me to make it and, like cassoulet, the ingredient list is long, it takes 2 days to make because the veggies have to be cooked separately,and the flavors have to meld overnight. It ends up being worth it because it's so very good. But it's definitely a once-a-year only project.

mockturtle said...

I had an Adele Davis cookbook back in the day. She had dried milk in just about every recipe, IIRC. Her cranberry sauce recipe was good, though. No dried milk in that.

My husband, OTOH, liked meat and potatoes, pastries, steak and kidney pies and rich desserts so I compromised. I urged him to eat more vegetables and he would argue that 'potatoes are vegetables'. Sigh.

Warren Fahy said...

THAT GUY... is good.

Earnest Prole said...

Lived in Eugene, Oregon, in the 70’s, hippie central.

That of course would be the place where I heard Ken Kesey dissing carob.

Richard Dillman said...

Kesey later became the main permanent writer in residence at the Univ. of Oregon. In the 70’s he was still partly involved with the merry pranksters. The psychedelic bus also ran on for a very long time. I attended a poetry reading once by William Stafford. Kesey and his merry band sat on the floor in front of the poet, drinking from their whiskey bottles wrapped in brown bags.

rcommal said...

My personal most-disliked Adelle Davis recipe was the Tiger Milk [I do believe that it was the original one] that involved banana. This killed banana for me. I hated it, and it made me feel ill, and I was the kid who'd eat anything (unfortunately); my younger brother was the kid who was as picky as hell and therefore got away with not having to consume things that I had to, on account of my having to be "an example" for my brother (LOL.)

O.M.G.

(By the way, I inherited my mom's Adelle Davis books, and they still exist in my book collection.)

David said...

Meanwhile, in Africa . . .

Michael The Magnificent said...

Thanks for the article!

I forwarded it to my best friend, raised by Quakers. Honest to God, her sister is caring for her mother on "The Farm."

I suspect kale is the counter-culture dietary symbol of today. I have no doubt she'll outlive me, but to subject yourself to daily concoctions of kale that smell like paint that has gone bad? I'd rather eat meat and potatoes and die early!

rcommal said...

Right after the banana Tiger Milk on my most hated list at the the time was the desiccated liver tablet. Those tablets were awful post-burp (and they always made me burp), I hated them, and--wait for it!!--I was one of those weird-ass kids who was willing to eat and did eat liver from toddler-hood (and by liver, I mean calves' and beef liver, not just chicken liver, which I actually love, though I don't eat them now because, well, you know: cholesterol). My younger brother would eat no liver of any kind, and for that reason I had to consume desiccated liver tablets, so as to encourage him also to do, which he did. The tablets didn't bother him. He never did embrace liver of any kind, on account of mine being forced to consume tablets that were totally disagreeable to my body's system.

But, y'know, it was a different time, and so it went. *shrug*

Michael The Magnificent said...

I urged him to eat more vegetables and he would argue that 'potatoes are vegetables'. Sigh.

Potatoes are excellent. But don't forget corn. Best grilled, with lots of butter and salt.

Come to think of it, both potatoes and corn grill well and are complimented with lots of butter and salt.

rcommal said...

I'd rather eat meat and potatoes and die early!

Yeah, OK. I'll take you at your word in terms of you, personally. However, I personally know right now, and have known, people (including close family members) who used to say the same thing, and they don't "rather" the "die early!" part anymore. Just pointin' out, sharin', and sayin".

rcommal said...

Didn't like the carob, either. Thanks be, my mom's attitude on that subject was: Eat great chocolate, but only a little and not often.

(Of course, I rebelled with regard to that, too, for many years, to my later regret. Thanks goodness, I got it eventually, and--unlike other issues--sooner rather than later.)

rcommal said...

As for me, I don't want to end up on a statins drug unless it's absolutely necessary, and I'm working very hard for it NOT to be necessary. There are potentially very nasty side affects with regard to them, and also they cost our health system and our country huge amounts of money, on account of so many who refused, and still refuse, to pay attention to their own choices and take accountability for their own auto-cant re: diet.

Mr. D said...

Ah, but when that clock strikes midnight
And I'm all by myself
I work that combination
On my secret hideaway shelf
And I pull out some Fritos corn chips
Dr. Pepper and an Ole Moon Pie
Then I sit back in glorious expectation
Of a genuine junk food high
Oh yeah, in the daytime I'm Mr. Natural
Just as healthy as I can be
But at night I'm a junk food junkie
Good lord have pity on me

Junk Food Junkie, by Larry Groce.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Regarding the passing of Euell Gibbons, Wikipedia states: "Gibbons died on December 29, 1975, aged 64, at Sunbury Community Hospital in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.[4] His death was the result of a ruptured aortic aneurysm, a complication from Marfan syndrome."

Howard said...

Euell Gibbons married Linda Lovelace... they met at a log-eating contest

Howard said...

Fortunately my liberal macramé weaving caftan wearing Eugene McCarthy campaign working Mom never bought into this bullshit. She saved us from margarine and low fat diets. She called meat brain food and demanded that all the colors of the rainbow be represented in vegetables and salads.

Although, it only took one single bite of carob to know that all the hair-farmer happy horseshit was a crock.

SoLastMillennium said...

Strange, in the, late, 70's I was buying Haagan-Dazs Carob flavored ice cream and it was good stuff!