Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Paradox Of Plenty: A Social History Of Eating In Modern America” as Want to Read:
Paradox Of Plenty: A Social History Of Eating In Modern America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Paradox Of Plenty: A Social History Of Eating In Modern America ( California Studies in Food and Culture #8)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  13 reviews
America has always been blessed with an abundance of food, but when it comes to the national diet, it is a land of stark contrast and paradox. In the early months of the Depression, for instance, there were 82 breadlines in New York City alone, and food riots broke out in such places as Henryetta, Oklahoma, and England, Arkansas. Yet at the same time, among those who were ...more
Published January 14th 1993 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1988)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Paradox Of Plenty, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Paradox Of Plenty

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 779)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Picks up where Revolution at the Table leaves off. I have read A LOT about food in the past two weeks, but Levenstein's writing still shines. All the complementary things I said about RatT apply here also, just discussing 1930-1990. The discussion of the mechanization of food production from the 1950s onwards kind of makes me never want to eat anything ever again, but that's okay.
Paradox of Plenty was cited in a wide array of awesome environmental and nutritional histories I've read. It came up over and over as a source for all sorts of different things, from synthetic vitamin supplements to cultural divides in eating habits to soil erosion. The literature implied it was a vast, sweeping, and detailed history of food issues in America. I'm happy to say it lived up to its promise.

Levenstein weaves three main threads together throughout the book: processing tech and nutri
It took me weeks to get through Terrors of the Table by Walter Gratzer, but this book I have flown through in like a week. It is wonderfully written, very entertaining, and full of good research. A fascinating sociological and historical overview of how food and nutrition trends have come and gone in the US in the 20th century.

What is most fascinating are some of the parallels between the late 60s and 1970s and now, with oil price rises, civil unrest, and a return to gourmet and home cooking, e
Paradox of Plenty is an expansive book covering the Great Depression through the Regan era. Levenstein charts the rise and fall of American concern (or lack of concern) with domestic and international hunger alongside the obsession with dieting (and healthy eating). He documents the influence of corporations and federal policies on what we eat and why we eat it.
The premise of this book was interesting. I appreciated the organization of the book, and, although the print was TINY (seriously, like swear size 8 font, no exaggeration), I found it hard to set down as the history of food through culture is a topic I find thrilling.

Issues I had with the edition I read and why it's only a 3:

My edition was from 1993. So there was no information post President George Herbert Walker Bush. I would have enjoyed reading about the rest of the 90's and the last decade.
Okay, so, I didn't get to finish this one as I had to return it to the library in order to "officially graduate". So there's that. I did, however, read about 100 pages and they were a damn great 100 pages (only giving 3 stars as I only read about half). A great covering of food politics and fads up through the Depression and into WWI and much more conversational and readable that other things getting at the same topics (Criser, for example). This book served as a great springboard for ideas and ...more
A fascinating history of the 20th century attitudes toward food and food politics. (However, the e-book is a bad copy, which caused me to slog through it.) If you care about food justice, or modern food, or are interested in any of the food eras of the 20th century, you should take a look at this book. If you care about welfare policy, or about the politics of obesity, you should look at this book.
Nicole G.
I was only able to read the first edition; I would be interested to take a look at the revised edition and see what new goodies are in it. This book was extremely interesting, documenting America's strange obsessions with food, corporate influence on what we eat, and so on.
An interesting book on one of my favorite subjects: food. It really opened my eyes to how past events really had impacted my food culture. However, I felt that Levenstein kept repeating himself throughtout the book. Other then that it was pretty good.
In these days of hype and agenda-driven information, it was both informative and refreshing to read a balanced food book written by someone who does research and isn't just out to get a movie deal.
Beth Barnett
Sequel to Revolution at the Table, discusses food policy during the Depression and changes in American foodways through the 20th Century.
Duncan Mchale
Recommended by Brent Cunningham in a Lapham's Quarterly podcast 7/25/11.
Very interesting if you are a food addict like me...
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rt added it
Dec 19, 2014
Jayna Malcher
Jayna Malcher marked it as to-read
Dec 16, 2014
Susie marked it as to-read
Nov 30, 2014
O'Rissa marked it as to-read
Nov 25, 2014
Andrew B.
Andrew B. marked it as to-read
Nov 21, 2014
Rosella marked it as to-read
Nov 15, 2014
Heather marked it as to-read
Nov 13, 2014
Annie Melton
Annie Melton marked it as to-read
Nov 11, 2014
Bethany Nelson
Bethany Nelson marked it as to-read
Nov 04, 2014
Nikki marked it as to-read
Oct 29, 2014
Denzel Scott
Denzel Scott marked it as to-read
Oct 20, 2014
Tory Young
Tory Young marked it as to-read
Oct 20, 2014
Yvonne Seckinger
Yvonne Seckinger marked it as to-read
Oct 19, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 25 26 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism
  • Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History
  • Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly
  • Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilization
  • Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back
  • Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America
  • Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism
  • Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal
  • Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food & People
  • Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes from and Why We Need to Get It Back
  • Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods
  • Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All
  • Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food
  • Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty
  • The End of Food
  • Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee—The Dark History of the Food Cheats
  • All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?
  • The Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them
Fear of Food: A History of Why We Worry about What We Eat Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (California Studies in Food and Culture, 7) Seductive Journey: American Tourists in France from Jefferson to the Jazz Age We'll Always Have Paris: American Tourists in France since 1930 Paradox of Plenty

Share This Book