The First Food Movement: A History of the Macrobiotic Diet, 1961-1977

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Paul Sabin
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This paper traces the history of the macrobiotic diet to better understand the ways in which Americans understood themselves as part of the environment, through food. Born out of anxieties over the threat of nuclear power, and contested for the duration of its popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, the diet was environmental anxiety manifest, but was stymied by its lack of scientific backing and stories of the death of some of its adherents. The demise of the macrobiotic diet, due in large part because of the fading of the counterculture, was also due in part by other food reformers who wanted to seem more respectable, particularly organic farmers.