In the early 1970s, two hundred hippies from San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood resettled in rural Tennessee. They founded a vegetarian commune and agricultural operation called The Farm. With help from their neighbors and a psychedelic soundtrack from their house band, the back-to-landers got their social experiment off the ground and produced some of the first vegan cookbooks and commercial soy products in the United States. The Farm outlived the Flower Power era to become a model of environmental sustainability and community farming that is still thriving nearly 50 years later. Producer Betsy Shepherd tells how tempeh, experimental rock, midwifery, and the antinuclear movement grew from a seed of West Coast counterculture planted in Southern soil.
Delta blues found its voice and audience on the airwaves of KFFA’s King Biscuit Time, a daily broadcast out of Helena, Arkansas. Bluesmen like Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Lockwood Jr., who would go on to become legends, interspersed their own songs with advertising jingles. King Biscuit Time, which launched in 1941, gave unprecedented exposure to African American musicians while selling everyday grocery staples like flour and cornmeal. And it's still on the air. Reporter-producer Betsy Shepherd travels to Helena to tell the story for Gravy.
The Magical, Meandering Life of Eugene Walter
Eugene Walter (1921–1998) of Mobile, Alabama was a novelist, a poet, a playwright, an actor, a costume designer, and a food writer, among myriad vocations and avocations. He had a deep love for the Mobile of his youth, which nurtured his creativity and informed much of his writing. He spent thirty years in Europe, acting in and translating films, hosting and carousing with artists, actors, and literati. Mobile called him home for the last chapter of his life. His surviving friends agree: Walter changed everyone he met. Twenty-one years after his death, producer Sara Brooke Curtis asks: Why don’t more people know about him?
When Menus Talk
What do restaurant menus have to say about the identity of a restaurant or the point of view of the chef? It turns out, menus are more nuanced and revealing than we might suspect. They reveal narratives that extend far beyond the bill of fare. They are collectors' items and rich historical documents. They are highly curated and sometimes distinctly engineered texts. They may impact the dining experience more than you think. Reporter Sara Brooke Curtis explores menus as text and menus as literature.
Cooking Up Social Change with Julia Turshen
Can cookbooks be a vehicle for social change? What can or should cookbook writers offer readers beyond recipes? Writer and cookbook author Julia Turshen takes her roles very seriously. She crafts accessible, affordable recipes and coaches readers via social media. She uses her platform to build community, foster equity, honor identity, and pay homage to the cooks and writers who came before her. Sara Brooke Curtis reported and produced this story.