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The Omnivore’s Dilemma Review

by Tiffany in Book Reviews, Eating Local

The Omnivores DilemmaOkay, so I read this book a long time ago and just never got around to posting my review. Shame on me.

The Description: The bestselling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the twenty-first century

“What should we have for dinner?” To one degree or another this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore’s dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn’t-which mushrooms should be avoided, for example, and which berries we can enjoy. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore’s dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance. The cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet has thrown us back on a bewildering landscape where we once again have to worry about which of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. At the same time we’re realizing that our food choices also have profound implications for the health of our environment. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is bestselling author Michael Pollan’s brilliant and eye-opening exploration of these little-known but vitally important dimensions of eating in America.

Okay so what did I think of it? It was quite simply…brilliant. Michael Pollan goes about eating different meals…McDonalds, a home cooked meal with Whole Foods purchases, and at a “beyond organic” farm in Virginia…and then tells us about how all of the food required for those meals came to be on his plate. His journey takes us to farms, meat packing plants, and the like. He also goes into so much detail about our foods such as the lengthy chapter on corn and how this one plant has affected our lives and economy so negatively. He also gives insight into why conventional foods are priced the way they are through government subsidies…not a true indication of what food really costs to make it to our plates.

This book really made me wonder about Americans and our ability to micromanage so many aspects of our lives…our finances, our jobs, our homes, our children…but do we care about where our food came from? Do we micromanage that process…heck no. But is that really smart? After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma I think it would wise for all of us to find out where our food comes from and at what price…economically, socially, and environmentally. Not to mention the cost it has on our health! But yet we see so many people zooming through fast food joints, grabbing a quick meal for the whole family. Why are they are so trusting that the dinner they are buying is even remotely good for them?

So, where do we go from there? Pollan introduces us to a smart farmer named Joel Salatin who understands that the “yearning in the human soul to smell a flower, pet a pig, and enjoy food with a face has never been stronger.” The description of this farm was so compelling that I fully plan to make a stop there someday and meet this amazing man if I can.

These are just a few of the root issues that UC Berkeley-based investigative journalist and bestselling author Michael Pollan explores in this trailblazing book. The reader comes away learning that “however we choose to feed ourselves, we eat by the grace of nature, not industry, and what we’re eating is never anything more or less than the body of the

  • Ricardo Rabago

    WOW! I enjoyed your review Tiffany and love the layout of your site! During the day I work for a local Organic and Natural grocery store in Seattle (It’s not Whole Paycheck ;-) ) and during the night as a professional podcaster, producing passionate podcasts for Organic and Natural lifestyles.

    If interested Organically Speaking has released a conversation with Michael Pollan podcast (audio conversation). Interesting tidbits on farmers markets, CSAs, and more!

    Some Podcast Show Note Questions:

    Q) Why the price difference between conventional food and organic and how do we go about bringing down organic food prices?

    Q) How can small local organic farmers remain local in a capitalistic system?

    Q) What is the “Food Web” you briefly touch on in your book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.

    All the best,

    Holistic Conversations for a Sustainable World

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