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Building Nature's MarketThe Business and Politics of Natural Foods$
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Laura J. Miller

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226501239

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226501406.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 05 March 2021

Living and Working on the Margins

Living and Working on the Margins

A Countercultural Industry Develops

(p.54) Chapter Three Living and Working on the Margins
Building Nature's Market

Laura J. Miller

University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes the development of a coordinated health food industry at the same time as the natural foods field became a domain of unconventional people and beliefs in the first half of the twentieth century. The chapter profiles several of the new businesses that became central to the industry, and explains how economic opportunities were available to entrepreneurs lacking the financial capital and cultural backgrounds often required by more mainstream ventures. One result was that the health food industry was marked by ethnic and religious niches, most prominently Jews and Seventh-day Adventists. The field was also heavily influenced by German immigrants whose ideas about naturopathy and similar philosophies created affinities between natural food and other unconventional practices associated with natural living. The chapter argues that citizen-only advocacy groups with few connections to industry were fragmented from one another and troubled by infighting and heavy-handed leadership. In contrast, a willingness in the industry to work with diverse groups of people facilitated the formation of trade associations, and contributed to the industry's centrality in tieing together the natural foods movement.

Keywords:   counterculture, entrepreneurs, ethnic niches, marginality, natural living, naturopathy, trade associations

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