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Ingredients for Revolution: A History of American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses

Alex D. Ketchum

Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the trailblazing restaurant Mother Courage of New York City, Ingredients for Revolution: A History of American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses is the first history of the more than 230 feminist and lesbian-feminist restaurants, cafes, and coffeehouses that existed in the United States from 1972 to the present. As key sites of cultural and political significance, this volume shows the essential role these institutions served for multiple social justice movements including women’s liberation, LGBTQ equality, and food justice, as well as for training women workers and entrepreneurs. 

This systematic study outlines the crucial steps it took to establish these businesses during eras when sexism was so institutionalized it was difficult for unmarried women to obtain a bank loan, while also showing the continuities and influences of past businesses on contemporary places. Through an examination of important establishments across America, Alex D. Ketchum first examines the foundational principles behind these businesses, noting key differences between cooperative, for-profit, and non-profit models. She then looks to issues of financing, labour, pay, food sourcing, and cultural programming to understand how these organizations reconciled feminist beliefs with capitalism and how they strove for more equitable and sustainable business practices. 

Brimming with illuminating archival research, interviews with influential restaurateurs, and illustrated with photographs, menus, posters, and calendars, Ingredients for Revolution is a fundamental work of women’s history, food history, and cultural history.  

Concordia University Press gratefully acknowledges that this open-access electronic edition has been made possible with funds received from the Partenariat des bibliothèques universitaires du Québec (PBUQ).

November 2022
$34.95 CAD/$29.95 USD
432 pages | 6 x 8
9781988111414 | Paper
9781988111421 | E-book

"This is a beautifully written study and the first work of its kind to provide a comprehensive overview of the feminist cafe subculture, with its deep history of economic barriers to the establishment and staffing of women’s collective spaces. Ingredients for Revolution intersects with many pending issues in feminist discussions today, such as finding community, fair and equal wages, self-determined cultural spaces, the value of traditional 'women’s work,' sexism in lending and bank practices, and the problem capitalist realities for lesbian feminist collectives. This a wonderful, important, much-needed history."
Bonnie J. Morris, University of California, Berkeley, author of What's the Score? 25 Years of Teaching Women's Sports History

"The great strength of Ingredients for Revolution is that it is so full of the impassioned voices of the women involved in these spaces and Alex Ketchum’s writing is accessible and notably free from academic jargon. She does a real service by making so much archival material available to the public in collecting and presenting the history of feminist women’s coffeehouses that has not been seen together before. She takes each individual at their word, not introducing judgment, which enables us to hear their concerns in their own contexts."
Megan J. Elias, Boston University, author of Food on the Page: Cookbooks and American Culture

About the author

Alex D. Ketchum is the Faculty Lecturer in the Institute of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies of McGill University and the author of Engage in Public Scholarship! A Guidebook on Feminist and Accessible Communication

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