Americans of the 1960s, accustomed to frozen dinners and soupy casseroles, would have trouble navigating the grocery aisles and restaurant menus of today. There, they would find once-exotic ingredients—like mangoes, hot sauces, kale, kimchi, and coconut milk—that have become standard in contemporary Americans’ diets.
In Sameness in Diversity, Laresh Jayasanker explains how food choices have expanded since the 1960s, even as food companies consolidated due to transformations in transportation, suburbanization, immigration, and global trade. As international food products became available to a broad American public, fewer companies controlled their production and distribution, which, in turn, limited what was available and what American consumers could access. Mining an archive of menus, cookbooks, trade publications, interviews, and company records, Jayasanker explores Americans’ changing eating habits to shed light on the impact of immigration and globalization on American culture.