Remembering the Whole Earth

Yesterday I conducted an archaeological dig into our dusty shelves of neglected cookbooks. I can’t recall when I last pulled out one of those oil-spattered old friends…these days, I most often cook ad hoc or, like many of you, take inventory of the fridge/pantry & – in order to avoid grocery shopping – google recipe options (preferably from fellow bloggers) for new, yummy-sounding veg-spice-condiment-protein combinations with stuff we have on hand.

Anyhow, I was searching for our ancient copy of the Whole Earth Cook Book.  The one with us looking like hippies (we weren’t, really!) in the photo on the back cover.  The one written by our friend & mentor Sharon Cadwallader* during the time we all worked at the Whole Earth Restaurant up at UCSC.  The one we pretty much knew by heart because we were satisfied beneficiaries of many evenings of recipe testing in that small, Guanajuato-decorated 12th Avenue beach house she shared with her son Leland.  The one written on the crest of the Whole Earth phenomenon that we thought was going to save the world.

I landed on this particular Whole Earth in 1970 upon returning to UCSC after a year in Munich. My friend, housemate, & Cordon Bleu graduate Karan, who unlike me could actually cook, had similarly returned a few weeks earlier, gotten a job at the newly envisioned ‘natural foods’ restaurant, & apparently convinced Sharon that I might be a decent dishwasher/cashier. Over the next two years (future husband) R & I became friends over kitchen scraps, midnight chats (i.e., I talked & he listened) & pots of hard-boiled eggs.  When we took a break from those dishes or from preparing sandwich fixings for the next day’s lunch crowd, I managed to finish my last two years of anthropology courses while he hopped around the country on freight trains.  We only fell madly in love after I graduated & it dawned on me that the easy camaraderie of the restaurant would be lost as we both moved on.  Or at least that’s my version of the story.

This all bubbled up over the holidays – as the past is wont to do.  In a cozy Hope Valley cabin, we talked all morning about Sharon’s robust presence in both of our lives during that time, & when I started concocting a lunch of random veg items from the cooler, it became clear that the Whole Earth – the concept, the cafe, the cookbook, the community, the cooking, & yes, the easy camaraderie – the Whole Earth, real & envisioned, was our original super glue.  In some ways, it’s still is.

I found that precious old cookbook.  The covers are gone (??), some of the stained sepia pages look like an art project gone wrong, & one seriously singed corner might have, in a careless moment, sent the whole volume outta this world. The original inscription is still there: for Linda and all her love and laughter!  I wish you a lifetime of sunshine.  xx Sharon.

Well.  You never know how life is going to get on, do you?  We were all so young & idealistic, & sorta unbelievably, that vision of the home planet floating in the void has carried us through satisfying & sometimes intense lives of family, community activism & public service.  It wasn’t all sunshine for Sharon & not for our family either.  & although too many relentlessly bright days in wintertime can cause even sunshine addicts to wish for the drippy release of rain, I (nearly) always take a moment to bask.

And, to remember that the earth will abide.  With us and without us.


* Sharon wrote the Whole Earth Cook Book (1972) together with co-author Judi Ohr, who (in my recollection) was primarily responsible for the baking section & who, according to Sharon, wasn’t able to field test her recipes with a similarly sophisticated collection of tasters as she, Sharon, had enjoyed.  Her introduction “What are natural foods?” moved this concept into the general food lexicon, just ahead of ‘organic’.  Also of note is the preface by Paul Lee (July 1971) on the meaning of the first whole earth photograph.  The Whole Earth Restaurant served its unique fare on the UCSC campus until 2002.

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32 Responses to Remembering the Whole Earth

  1. Donna Maurillo says:

    Ooops! My comments are going to appear on the Scan 2 page! Can you move them here?

    • liveoaklinda says:

      donna’s comment:

      The Whole Earth was the very first restaurant we dined at when we arrived in Santa Cruz in June 1973. Well, OK… we stopped at Ferrell’s Donuts first because we needed a quick breakfast after our 3000-mile move from Florida… during which time I learned how to camp and cook on an open fire. I also learned how to dry my hair over an open fire. Or more precisely. how NOT to do it. The first time I did it, I nearly burned my flowing mane, but at least I didn’t have split ends anymore.

      Anyway, back to the restaurant. We probably were the only students on campus with a late-model Oldsmobile station wagon, two kids, and a couple of purebred dogs. We were a former career military family and hadn’t quite blended with the local scene yet. So we climbed the stairs to the restaurant in that big redwood building, and we found our way across the wooden plank floors to a wooden plank table. Nobody seemed to care that our dogs were with us. We thought, “What a cool place that lets you bring your dogs in!” I don’t remember what we ordered. It was probably some kind of fresh vegetable soup with that grainy brown bread that all the natural foods restaurants were serving.

      Eventually we moved into Married Student Housing (which eventually became known as Family Student Housing because, as it turned out, most of the residents were divorced mothers and their kids), put in a community garden, and started enjoying our own fresh vegetables. We also became somewhat hippie, if it counts that I gave up my Chanel-style suits and started wearing halter tops, cut-off shorts, and bandana headbands. But I’m proud to say that I never ever had the slightest urge to buy a pair of Birkenstocks.

    • liveoaklinda says:

      i love your story donna. it seems like that early 70’s era was defined by the natural foods, feminist, & anti-war movements, or at least for those of us here on the west coast of ‘that’ generation. it’s surprising to me how much of it stuck – probably because we were right! 🙂

  2. Wes says:

    The Whole Earth Restaurant was one of the primary reasons I chose to go to UCSC in the late 80s.

    • liveoaklinda says:

      & were you happy with your choice? another memory is of the awful problem we had with wasps on the deck…i dreaded having to clean tables out there.

    • wmodes says:

      Absolutely. I wrote about it just today:

      “I did end up going to UC Santa Cruz. I went in as a small-town know-it-all conservative 19-year old and emerged many years later as a wide-eyed slightly-more-humble 20-something with a lot more empathy and greater appreciation for my socio-economic, racial, and gender privilege in the world.”

  3. Harriet Deck says:

    Thank you Linda for sending this lovely story to me. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Sharon and just want to call her up and ask her advice on some recipe. I will always miss her. She was a very special friend. Harriet

  4. Elaine says:

    I graduated from UCSC right before they closed the Whole Earth restaurant. It was a very sad day for me because I loved the place. Later I found out that the healthy and delicious food once served by Whole Earth was replaced by something that more typical and boring like pizza and burgers. What I miss most is a tomato-based salad dressing that was made in Whole Earth. But the workers there at the time wouldn’t tell me the recipe when asked because they said it was a secret. Is this true? If so then I am even more sad because that means I’ll never find it. But when I did an internet search one day, I found that a cookbook exists! I haven’t been able to get my hands on the Whole Earth cookbook so I was wondering if you could tell me from your copy if there is a tomato-based salad dressing in the book and what is that recipe?!

    • liveoaklinda says:

      hi elaine – i’m out of town at the moment but when i get home i’ll for sure check out the WE cookbook for this recipe! sounds yummy & how annoying for it to have been a ‘secret’. it may be derived from a later WE generation than the cookbook. more in january!

    • liveoaklinda says:

      hi again elaine – sadly, this recipe is not in the whole earth cookbook. BUT see Leigh Anne’s 8/20/18 post below WITH RECIPE!

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  6. Robert Weiner says:

    Thanks, Linda!

    I took my first-ever cooking class at the Whole Earth during my first quarter at UCSC (Winter 1978/79). It helped make me a confident home chef. I also ate many, many meals there. It was a great place to meet friends and hang out. I’m sad that it’s gone.

  7. liveoaklinda says:

    over these past few weeks i’ve taken stock to heart, mostly because my compost bins are full: another way to recycle this planet’s goodness (& this week’s brother birthday bbq bones – oh yeah).

  8. Rebecca Foster says:

    Would anyone have the recipe for the tomato basil dressing they had at the whole earth cafe? I want to make it for my dear friends in San Diego!

    -Santa Cruz Slug Graduate 2001 🙂

    • liveoaklinda says:

      hi rebecca – sadly this recipe isn’t in the whole earth cook book – it’s probably from the restaurant’s later years. i’d love to find the keeper of that recipe as others have asked for it too. good luck trying to recreate it! 8/20/18: YAY!! – SEE BELOW FOR THIS RECIPE. You may have to modify the portions though.

  9. Don says:

    Is this the same book that was later combined with Book 2 into a new edition? Also, I remember the brown rice burgers and really want that recipe. Thanks

    • liveoaklinda says:

      Brown Rice Burgers

      3 c cooked brown rice
      1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
      3 carrots, grated
      1 large onion, chopped
      1 clove garlic, mashed
      1 egg
      1/2 c whole wheat flour
      3-4 T oil
      salt & pepper

      Mix all ingredients except oil together until well blended. Add more flour if mixture is too soft to form patties. Rub oil on hands & form patties. Fry in oil. Can be served hot or cold. They keep well in refrigerator & make a good substitute for sandwiches in school lunches.

  10. Leigh Anne Kranz says:

    UCSC Whole Earth Restaurant: Tomato Herb Dressing
    Hi all,
    I graduated from UCSC in 1990 and made it my mission to get this recipe before I left campus. I had to ask (cajole, beg) several times over the course of my last year, but finally wore down a cook who furtively gave me the recipe (thank you, whoever you are!), Here it is:

    1 1/2 red onions
    5 medium tomatoes (~6 cups)
    2 handfuls green salad
    2 Tbs garlic
    2 Tbs honey
    3 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
    1 1/4 cups soy sauce
    5 cups oil (soybean)
    1 1/2 Tbs tarragon
    1 1/2 Tbs mustard powder
    1 1/2 Tbs chili powder & paprika mix (half of each).
    Mix together in a blender.

    ENJOY and share with as many slugs as you can find. This recipe is a treasure & should not be lost.
    Leigh Anne Kranz 90′

    • liveoaklinda says:

      Thank you so much Leigh Anne! All the best! – Linda

    • p says:

      This is amazing! I’ve been craving this salad for nearly two decades. I was wondering if the handfuls of green salad are meant to be in the dressing, or if they are just a part of the salad the dressing goes on?

      Also there was an option to have the salad with “seeds” but do you remember what kind of seeds they were? THANK YOU!!!

      -p, class of 2002

    • LA says:


      I’m so happy this recipe reached you.

      The 2 handfulls of greens go IN the dressing.
      The seeds, as I recall, are sunflower.

      This recipe makes a LOT. Cut in half for home use.


    • p says:

      I have a feeling I will not need to cut it down. Yay!! Thanks again!

    • Tammy Warner says:

      OMG thank you! I got the recipe furtively, too, from some guy in a bar in the 80’s but had long since lost it. THE BEST!

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  12. Jen says:

    What was the basic salad dressing. I still crave it! I had mine with seeds always.

  13. jswhome says:

    By any chance does that cookbook have the recipe for the baked tofu? I have never been able to find tofu as good as it was at Whole Earth. Thanks!

    • liveoaklinda says:

      Hi jsw – I’m sorry, I don’t see a recipe in the Whole Earth cookbook for baked tofu. Good luck finding one though that comes close! – Linda

  14. PNWert says:

    I was a Slug briefly in the mid-’90s, and interestingly, remember more about my years there than at the university at which I eventually matriculated. The Whole Earth was a refuge. They had a recipe for Blue Cheese dressing that was bananas. I’ve had something SIMILAR at a restaurant here on the island where I make my home, but it’s not The Whole Earth version. Anyone have a bead on this? I was able to track down a Whole Earth cookbook, but it’s not in there. /sigh

    I know it’s a random request, but y’all came through with the Tomato-Basil one (my fave until I had the Blue Cheese!)! So, fingers crossed!

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