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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
The Omnivore's Dilemma A Natural History of Four Meals Author:Michael Pollan The best-selling author of The Botany of Desire, Pollan writes about the ecology of the food humans eat and why--what it is, in fact, that we are eating. Discussing industrial farming, organic food, and what it is like to hunt and gather food, this is a surprisingly honest and self-aware account of the evolution of the modern diet. — Contents: — O... more »ur national eating disorder --
I. Industrial: corn. The plant: corn's conquest -- The farm -- The elevator -- The feedlot: making meat -- The processing plant : making complex foods -- The consumer: a republic of fat -- The meal: fast food --
II. Pastoral: grass. All flesh is grass -- Big organic -- Grass: thirteen ways of looking at a pasture -- The animals: practicing complexity -- Slaughter: in a glass abattoir -- The market: "Greetings from the non-barcode people" -- The meal: grass fed --
III. Personal: the forest. The forager -- The omnivore's dilemma -- The ethics of eating animals -- Hunting: the meat -- Gathering: the fungi -- The perfect meal.« less
This is a book everyone should read. Eating is nutritional, is political, is global and we should never be ignorant about how we nourish our bodies. Pollan has provided a great assessment of modern eating.
This is a fascinating account of the origins of three types of meals - a fast food meal, an organic meal, and one composed of foods hunted and gathered by the author. This book could almost be seen as a sequel to Fast Food Nation: it is similar in format and both books are very readable. However, after reading this book you will feel guilty not only about eating Chicken McNuggets (who really believed that spongy white filling was chicken anyway?) but also about buying organic South American asparagus from Whole Foods and eggs from supposedly free range chickens at Safeway.
Unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of being a published author, so that we can forage for morels, hunt wild boar, and capture yeast from the air around our neighborhoods in order to spend multiple days preparing slow food meals for our friends. Indeed, this type of elitism and the fact that foods obtained from sustainable farming sources are not affordable to many may turn some readers off to this book. That is unfortunate, because I don't think the author intends to imply that people are good or bad for eating a certain way - in my opinion, this book is more a call to THINK about what you eat, and make choices that you are comfortable with when you can.
Even if all of us only occasionally bought locally grown products from sustainable farms it would make a big difference... and I think that is what the author is trying to say. Make whatever choices you like, but at least make them informed choices.
A book that will make you rethink about how, where, why, when, and what you are eating. If you're curious about where your food comes from, the connection of our food to place and our lives; then you must read "The Omnivore's Dilemma". It will change your thought about how we, as Americans, feed ourselves.
omg. i had such a hard time getting through this. its interesting, but it read like a textbook. i kept debating just putting it down and moving on, but i forced myself to get through it, and am glad i did.
the book is split into three parts- or three meals. the first part is about how corn is in pretty much everything we eat. it talks about the price of corn- in terms of farming, gasoline and animals. the authors meal to represent this was fast food. gross.
the second part is about grass and the role grass plays in our meals. theres a lot of debates on what organic really is and the author lives on a fram for a week, where his meal is completely provided for by the farm.
the third part was my favorite. it was about huntering and gathering. everything the author ate had to come from something he hunted, gathered, forged. he included debates on vegetarianism and veganism, killing animals for food versus pleaseure, etc.
id recommend it to someone whos interested in the topic. its not a quick exciting read, but has a lot of great information. there were pages i skipped over because it got too technical, but i did come away from it better educated. and weve started buying from local farmers (or so they say!)
Anna B. (apb3000) reviewed The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals on
Helpful Score: 5
A brilliant and important book, which despite its weightiness, is very readable - Pollan as narrator is open, likeable, and never condescending. Every American ought to read this book...it's the first step toward reform of the fast-failing agricultural system in this country.
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan is a very informative book about our modern industrial food chain. Pollan packs an incredible amount of information from a wide variety of modern and historical sources into this book and also poses many questions. He seeks answers to those questions from an anthropologist's point-of-view and delivers it all with a very pleasant writing style. He very thoroughly explains everything which I appreciate though I know it may bother some readers. He writes with a great sense of humor, is not at all preachy, and makes the reader feel like a companion during his travels across America to discover how we eat and what we should eat. I found it surprisingly eye-opening.
What did I think? I think that the U.S. -- basically the entire world -- is screwed. Our food chain is so unsustainable and unhealthy that if something doesn't change soon, it's bound to fall apart. I knew that before reading this book, but Pollan's hands-on research and writing style present the facts and the argument for slow-food in a very clear and readable way. Local, seasonal food is the way to go, but with our cultural focus on and our government's obvious support of quick, easy and cheap, that will not be the mainstream any time soon, probably not until our entire system falls apart.
The four meals Pollan prepares during the course of the book are a McDonald's meal featuring corn, corn and more corn in various forms (which is why we are completely screwed), an "organic" meal of ingredients from Whole Foods (which is better, but not as much better as you would probably think), a "slow food" meal made mostly from food grown at a farm where Pollan worked for a week, and a meal that he grew/foraged/hunted himself. He argues (and I agree) that there's a growing subculture moving in that direction, with farmers markets increasing every year, more urban homesteading, and a greater focus on local, seasonal food, etc. I just don't think that movement is growing fast enough or significantly enough to counteract the economic, environmental and health impacts of the corn- and soy-fueled food chain that currently rules the land. I hate to be so pessimistic, but without a complete reversal of the current food system (which would take either a food revolution or an overthrow of the USDA), we're screwed. (Yes, I know I've now said that three times, but it's less offensive than the word I really want to use.)
I really enjoy Pollan's writing style -- mixing facts, personal experiences and humor together -- but as in The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World, he tends to be a little long-winded. Especially during the last section/meal, in which Pollan learns to hunt and forage to create "the perfect meal," I got bored. Probably because I have no interest in hunting (I'd revert to vegetarianism first) and very little in gathering mushrooms, I found myself skimming though much of this last section.
I liked the beginning, learning a lot. I didn't like the middle, hard to stay with it and get through it. I liked the end. Other books on this topic, which I am interested in are more interesting. I liked Animal, Veg, Miracle better. Wouldn't recommend it.