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The Summer of Love

I can’t get that song, “San Francisco,” out of my mind. Maybe it’s because we drove over both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge last weekend on our way to our grandson’s college graduation ceremony. Maybe it’s because San Francisco is in the news so much – for both the good and the bad. Maybe it’s because I think we all need a “summer of love.”

Scott McKenzie recorded the gorgeous song back in 1967 – the summer now referred to as “The Summer of Love.” Although in today’s Andy’s Corner Andy questions just how “lovey-dovey” that summer may have been, to me the reference to a summer of love seems incredibly apropos, given the fact that Andy and I got married in May of 1967.

However, while around 100,000 folks were gathering in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury in June of that year, dreamily talking about love and peace, Andy and I were saying our (very, very teary) good-byes, as he prepared to leave for Army basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey…with a year-long tour of duty in Vietnam almost inevitable. Having been drafted made the situation even more difficult. Believe me, we thought more about Canada than San Francisco!

It’s hard looking back at that summer and imagining those two different and conflicting scenes. The nation was so divided.

Another memorable song – recorded in July of 1967 – was the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.” Upon listening to the song in May of 2023, Andy and I both commented that “love isn’t all we need!” Fifty-six years later cynicism may have overcome us. Nonetheless, hearing and seeing the Beatles when they were so young – and were performing in such a casual setting – is a treat. As you watch the video below, be sure to be on the lookout for another very famous musician among those gathered around. Admittedly, I had to check in with our son to make the absolute identification. I’m not as “hip” as those 1967 hippies!

I was 23 the summer of 1967. That summer, while I was consumed with thinking about love…and war, another young woman, born just a day after I was, was thinking more about food – and plotting her first book on that subject. Her name? Frances Moore Lappé.

Frances Moore Lappé in the late 1960s while she was researching Diet for a Small Planet. (Courtesy of Frances Moore Lappé/Penguin Random House)

Diet for a Small Planet, Lappé’s first book, didn’t come out until 1971, but she was working on it in the late 60’s at Cal, where her husband was in graduate school. At first Lappé thought of the book more as a political manifesto – pushing us away from meat and toward plant-based diets. But her very-supportive publisher, Betty Ballantine of Ballantine Books, encouraged her to soften it a little by including recipes.

In 2021 the 50th Anniversary edition was released – with some recipe updates, moving the ingredients toward a more world-view of food, rather than Mediterranean-focused. Over 30 million copies of the book have been sold over the years. Not bad.

Lappé has kept up her activism throughout her life. Her publications include 2004’s You Have the Power: Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear and 2017’s Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want. Her 2021 updates describe the good and the bad and the ugly, relative to changes to food and farming and the environment. I love that Lappé has such an upbeat conclusion to that edition – the final lines of this Amanda Gorman poem:

The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
If only we’re brave enough to see it,
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Today’s vegetarian recipe comes from the 2021 edition of Diet of a Small Planet (surprise!), and it’s based on a 1970’s recipe which was served for lunch to the patrons of San Francisco’s Ecology Center. It was tweaked a bit for the new edition by adding coconut milk. I think those who participated in the Summer of Love would approve. Or should I say they’d LOVE it! 🙂

And here’s a shout-out to all of those new college graduates who are looking forward to a life committed to working together to improve our world – and to Silas, our grandson, whose major at Cal, fittingly enough, was Society and the Environment.

And let’s hope that love returns. Fingers crossed for a lovely and love-filled summer of 2023…”for there is always light.”

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