From the Publisher
"Smoothly written and full of information."Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating account of the economic, political and cultural factors that have been brought to bear on the way Americans have eaten from 1930 to the present."Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Levenstein's examples and anecdotes of folly and worse, and his debunking of experts and authorities from Margaret Mead on, make lively reading."Kirkus Reviews
"With intellectual gusto and uncommon equanimity, Harvey Levenstein has done a remarkable job describing what food has meant in America for the last sixty years. His scrupulous account of all the cultural beliefs and biases that flavor how it is manufactures, marketed, cooked, eaten, exalted, damned, and denied transforms this gastronomic history into a tale of epic proportions. If a society is what it eats, Paradox of Plenty is a revealing portrait of a nation that loves and loathes itself, and has good cause to do both."Jane and Michael Stern
"Lively, entertaining....Well-written and thoroughly researched, this overview gathers together information that many health and food enthusiasts will find interesting and enlightening."Library Journal
In scrutinizing our eating habits from the Depression to the present, Levenstein has tapped into many of the endearing and infuriating absurdities of American business and popular culture. As he charts our dogged, often ill-informed pursuit of nutrition and convenience, he runs head-on into our obsession with thinness, the wiliness of advertising, and our tremendous capacity for fads. The postwar boom in processed foods ushered in a new age of culinary mediocrity and declining nutritional value, which, in turn, ignited a demand for "natural" foodstuffs when the hazards of pesticides, food additives and preservatives, and the overuse of sugar and salt were recognized. While the middle and upper classes fretted over dieting and longevity, the poor stayed hungry. There are paradoxes aplenty in this keen dissection of food fashions and passions, right up to the latest FDA infighting over codification of nutritional claims on food labeling. Levenstein combines scholarship with perception, wit, and exceptional storytelling skills as he illuminates the ways such diverse elements as gender roles, supermarkets, frozen foods, the mania for vitamins, and changing attitudes toward ethnic food have influenced our eating preferences. Levenstein's "Revolution at the Table" (1988) examined American eating habits from 1880 to 1930. Bon appetit!