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Thread: What was "health food?"

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
    Blog entries

    What was "health food?"

    During my childhood in the 1970s, I remember the suburban landscape being dotted with self-proclaimed "health food" stores. From what I remember, accompanying my parents to a few during their shopping excursions, the stores were really quite small -- nothing like a Whole Foods or organic/natural food supermarket of today. Also unlike today's yupscale organic supermarkets, I really don't recall health food stores stocking much actual food to speak of. The bulk of inventory seemed to consist of vitamins, powders, and various grains and seeds; I recall a LOT of wheat germ, for some reason. No produce, no bread, no canned goods - nothing really edible except different varieties of raw cereal grains and seeds.

    My question: what was "health food"? Did hippies of the time just live on a diet of raw grains and seeds?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
    Jul 2006
    Slightly Off-Center
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    My question: what was "health food"? Did hippies of the time just live on a diet of raw grains and seeds?
    My recollection of "health food" stores is that they were primarily misguided commercial attempts to capitalize on the organic food coop movement and they focused on vitamins, supplements, etc.

    Hippies of the time lived primarily on sex,drugs, rock 'n roll, and munchies but thought that they were living on the organic stuff.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
    Jan 2008
    Tallahassee, FL
    The health food stores I remember tended to focus on vegetarian (not so much vegan) food such as "fake" meat made mostly from soy. It comes in all forms, fakeon, hot dogs, burgers, etc. Most was canned in the '70s. Now it can be had as frozen stuff. Some is not bad. Others I cant't stand.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
    Nov 2006
    Rockwood, MI

    Fat Cat

    What ever they could sell you under the name of "health"
    I do not recall seing "food pyramids" in any of the health food stores that I was in.
    As a planner I tried to visit stores in the community that I was employed in,
    With my frequent job changes this added up to more than a few stores

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Funny I think of stuff like goat cheese and freshly ground peanut butter.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  6. #6
    Aug 2001
    Western Pennsylvania
    Grape Nuts! "Did you know that some parts of the pine tree are edible?"

  7. #7
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Feb 2004
    on my 15 minute break
    My recollections of the 1970's health food movement pretty much coincide with Dan's. Seems like there was considerable focus on individual foodstuffs that were supposed to be really good for you , like wheat germ, vitamins, or certain vegetable juices. You'd eat lots of that one or two items. Real hippies were probably taking a more holistic view of nutrition and health then but here in the midwest it seems the prevailing view of health food was eat this [item] it's really good for you. Sort of intrinsically tied in with the later New Agey notion of "positive energy" (e.g. "I find that when I stick to a strict vegan diet, that positive energy flows more readily through me..." )

    My mother treated wheat germ as if it had some sort of mystical properties and would pour it atop our Lucky Charms, as if its 'goodness' would somehow counteract the evil sugary kids breakfast cereal.

    My impression is that you have to walk before you run and maybe the 70's was sort of a nutritional elementary school and prepared the way for the nutrional high school the country attended in the 90's.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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