Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. American Studies Program


Benjamin Lisle

Second Advisor

Laura Saltz


Food is an essential part of every person’s life. Not only does it provide sustenance, but it also holds cultural value. Throughout American history, food has played a significant role in activism because of its ability to form and express identity, build community, demonstrate allegiance with certain beliefs, and reject the status quo. In 1773, American colonists boycotted the controlling British Monarchy and the monopolistic East India Company by throwing tea into the Boston harbor in what later became known as the Boston Tea Party. During the Jacksonian era of the 1830s, radical vegetarians led by the ideologies of Sylvester Graham resisted the preachings of mainstream medical authorities. Suffragettes turned to hunger strikes while in jail in the early 1900s in an effort to publicize their struggle to gain the right to vote.

Using three historical examples of food activism from the 1960s and 1970s, I hope to demonstrate the ways in which food promotes social change. Each movement addressed food in its different stages, whether it was production, distribution, preparation, or consumption, to make a statement. Counterculturalists during this era used food in their efforts to better American society and the legacies of their works can still be seen today.


food, activism

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