[Ebook] ➩ The Omnivore's Dilemma Author Michael Pollan – Motyourdrive.co.uk

The Omnivore's Dilemma txt The Omnivore's Dilemma, text ebook The Omnivore's Dilemma, adobe reader The Omnivore's Dilemma, chapter 2 The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Omnivore's Dilemma d9b616 What Should We Have For Dinner For Omnivore S Like Ourselves, This Simple Question Has Always Posed A Dilemma When You Can Eat Just About Anything Nature Or The Supermarket Has To Offer, Deciding What You Should Eat Will Inevitably Stir Anxiety, Especially When Some Of The Foods On Offer Might Shorten Your Life Today, Buffeted By One Food Fad After Another, America Is Suffering From What Can Only Be Described As A National Eating Disorder The Omnivore S Dilemma Has Returned With A Vengeance, As The Cornucopia Of The Modern American Supermarket And Fast Food Outlet Confronts Us With A Bewildering And Treacherous Food Landscape What S At Stake In Our Eating Choices Is Not Only Our Own And Our Children S Health, But The Health Of The Environment That Sustains Life On EarthThe Omnivore S Dilemma Is A Groundbreaking Book In Which One Of America S Most Fascinating, Original, And Elegant Writers Turns His Own Omnivorous Mind To The Seemingly Straightforward Question Of What We Should Have For Dinner The Question Has Confronted Us Since Man Discovered Fire, But, According To Michael Pollan, The Bestselling Author Of The Botany Of Desire, How We Answer It Today, Ath The Dawn Of The Twenty First Century, May Well Determine Our Very Survival As A Species Should We Eat A Fast Food Hamburger Something Organic Or Perhaps Something We Hunt, Gather Or Grow Ourselves To Find Out, Pollan Follows Each Of The Food Chains That Sustain Us Industrial Food, Organic Or Alternative Food, And Food We Forage Ourselves From The Source To A Final Meal, And In The Process Develops A Definitive Account Of The American Way Of Eating His Absorbing Narrative Takes Us From Iowa Cornfields To Food Laboratories, From Feedlots And Fast Food Restaurants To Organic Farms And Hunting Grounds, Always Emphasizing Our Dynamic Coevolutionary Relationship With The Handful Of Plant And Animal Species We Depend On Each Time Pollan Sits Down To A Meal, He Deploys His Unique Blend Of Personal And Investigative Journalism To Trace The Origins Of Everything Consumed, Revealing What We Unwittingly Ingest And Explaining How Our Taste For Particular Foods And Flavors Reflects Our Evolutionary InheritanceThe Surprising Answers Pollan Offers To The Simple Question Posed By This Book Have Profound Political, Economic, Psychological, And Even Mortal Implications For All Of Us Ultimately, This Is A Book As Much About Visionary Solutions As It Is About Problems, And Pollan Contends That, When It Comes To Food, Doing The Right Thing Often Turns Out To Be The Tastiest Thing An Eater Can Do Beautifully Written And Thrillingly Argued, The Omnivore S Dilemma Promises To Change The Way We Think About The Politics And Pleasure Of Eating For Anyone Who Reads It, Dinner Will Never Again Look, Or Taste, Quite The Same Jacket


About the Author: Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan is an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism Excerpted from



10 thoughts on “The Omnivore's Dilemma

  1. says:

    Michael Pollan is a journalist, and an omnivore, curious about where the food he puts in his mouth comes from In the book he follows four meals from the very beginning of the food chain to his plate What he finds is that the food we put in our mouths turns out to be a big decision a moral, political, and environmental one.Part One CORNThe discussion begins with CORN Part one of this book is shocking I knew corn was the main crop grown in America and that farmers growing it are in big trouble, requiring government subsidies just to stay afloat, but Michael Pollan unravels how it got to that point After leaving the farm, most of the corn finds its way to the Confined Animal Feeding Operation CAFO where it is fed to cows, pigs, chicken, turkey, and now even fish This is problematic due to the fact that cows aren t built to eat corn They eat grass This unnatural diet leads to various health problems for the cow that must be countered with a cocktail of antibiotics and hormones, creating health problems for us He follows the corn from the field to the supermarket, where it now infiltrates virtually every processed food on the shelf I had no idea that corn is broken down and recombined into hundreds of different forms, most notably oils, high fructose corn syrup, and xantham gum never knew what the hell that was Just take a look at the food label of any processed food and your probably eating some scientific form of that kernel of corn He followed the corn all the way to his meal at McDonald s Between Pollan, his wife, and his son they packed in 4,510 calories for lunch The items that contained the highest proportion of corn turned out to be the soda 100% , milk shake 78% , salad dressing 65% , chicken nuggets 56% , cheeseburger 52% , and french fries 23% And we thought we were eating such a varied diet As Pollan points out, we are simply industrialized eaters surviving on corn Part 2 GRASSPart two focuses on the organic movement Everyone thinks they re making a wonderful decision to eat organic and in one sense they are, saving the soil from all of the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides although some crazy stuff is still allowed under US organic laws There are the obvious health benefits of not ingesting those things The dark side is that the bag of Earthbound Farms baby lettuce mix you just bought traveled 3,000 miles in refrigerated trucks using untold amounts of energy Organic started out as a local movement, but as demands increased, it was forced to industrialize Supermarkets don t want to deal with several smaller local organic farmers They want one large buyer to stock all their produce needs Big Organic is now a 350 million dollar business.Meet Rosie, the organic free range chicken The lesson taken away from Rosie is beware of food labels that state things like free range or cage free These are really meaningless statements placed on packaging in an attempt to lessen the guilt of consumers that have informed themselves about the horrors of industrial factory farming Michael Pollan tracked down Rosie and it turns out that she isn t out wandering in a field of grass She s in a long indoor structure confined with twenty thousand birds for the first five weeks of her life When they open the doors at either end after the first five weeks, the birds habits have been set in place, they feel no need to take a chance out in the unknown which turns out to be a small fenced in patch of grass that could never support all of the birds inside As Pollan puts it free range turns out to be not so much a lifestyle for these chickens as a two week vacation option Pollan then visits Polyface Farm just outside of Charlottesville, VA where Joel Salatin raises cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and even rabbits in harmony with the animals natural instincts It is the true definition of symbiosis, where each species depends on the others and all depend on the grass Salatin manages all of this using rotational grazing techniques The cows come through first, then the chickens The animals are moved on a daily basis to prevent overgrazing and to allow the proper spreading of the animals droppings which in turn nourish the soil and grasses He slaughters the chickens on site, in the open air where any of his costumers can watch and see where their food really comes from Compare this to the CAFOs where the killing stations are off limits to all observers What s going on behind those walls Polyface cows and pigs have to be sent off site due to USDA regulations People drive from all over to buy his clean food and restaurants in Charlottesville proudly read Polyface Farm chickens on their menus They give a variety of reasons when asked why they come all the way to buy Salatin s food I just don t trust the meat in the supermarket any You re not going to find fresher chickens anywhere I drive 150 miles one way in order to get clean meat for my family It actually tastes like chicken Oh those beautiful eggs The difference is night and day the color, the richness, the fat content It is the alliance between the producer and the consumer The consumers can look the farmer in the eyes and see that the food is produced with care and without chemicals They are also keeping the moeny in the community by supporting local farmers.Part 3 The ForestHis final meal is from ingredients derived from Pollan s owe efforts through hunting and gathering He realizes this is an unrealistic option in terms of our daily eating, but he wants to undergo this experiment to bring him closer to the food he eats After hunting wild boar, gathering mushrooms from the forest, collecting cherries from a tree in the neighborhood, he discovers what is for him, the perfect meal Why perfect His meal would not have been possible without the number of people that helped him in his hunting and gathering endeavours It was an open food chain He knew where all the ingredients came from and their were no hidden costs A meal that is eaten in full consciousness of what it took to make it is worth preparing every now and again, if only as a way to remind us of the true costs of the things we take for granted The bottom line What are we eating Where did it come from How did it make it to our table What is the true cost politically, environmentally, ethically, and in terms of the public health


  2. says:

    I was resistant to reading this book because I m not an omnivore, and also I thought that Pollan s book The Botany of Desire was brilliant and I suspected I would not feel as fond of this one, which is certainly true He does write well, but I didn t find that this book had the eloquence or elegance of the other.The sub title of this book could read It s Really Ok To Eat Dead Animals, Really It Is Which I realize for most people it is But eating flesh foods and other foods made from animals such as dairy and eggs is simply what the vast majority of this book s readers and the population as a whole do it s not an unique argument But, I loved the fungi chapter and the corn section The chapter on mushrooms I m sure I enjoyed so much because a close friend of mine has told stories of her rural Indiana upbringing and of the very small l patch they have on their property So it was really fun for me to read about the foraging hunting of the mushrooms, including local ls The author lives about 30 minutes drive from me and I recognized many of the locations in the book The corn section about the deliberate infusion of corn products into just about every processed food made me determined to cut way down on the processed foods that I often eat the one real way this book changed me, not an insignificant one.A good part of this apparently beloved book seemed to me to be the author s belabored argument that it s perfectly fine to eat animals His treatise looked like his attempt to avoid cognitive dissonance his term although I was already thinking of it like that so that he could continue to eat in peace as an omnivore, along with about 97% of the U.S population being omnivorous is the dominant paradigm Anyway, his waxing poetic over the glories of killing and eating animals did not sway me It s interesting that Pollan continually rebuts his own arguments, but I wasn t convinced his questioning was as honest as he wanted it to appear, as it seemed to me he already knew the answers he wanted to arrive at about being omnivorous And I wouldn t be surprised if he would agree with me about that.Some of his facts and figures were off When he talks about tens of millions of animals killed for food in the U.S for instance actually, the latest figures I ve read are 11 billion every year, not including fish Even the call to eat locally, which I usually subscribe to, is not to be so simplified One contradictory example I can think of this issue is not addressed in the book is the consuming of products chocolate, coffee, dried fruit, nuts from the distant rainforest, which, in my opinion, is much preferable to continuing to cut down rainforest trees, and which the natives will allow if they can t make their living from the rainforest in other ways.I know my philosophy is shared by a relative few, but the fast food meals, the description which was intended to highlight the large amounts of corn products in all the foods, while I found that surprising and unfortunate, it was the cow and chicken parts of the meal that disturbed me the most And, as far as the idyllic Polyface Farm, I truly wonder what they could do 100% plant products grown.


  3. says:

    I liked Michael Pollan s The Omnivore s Dilemma so much that I searched goodreads reviews for reasons not to like it.Let me explain.Whenever a really influential book like this comes out, there s a pretty reliable pattern that follows There s the newspaper toast of the town effect, followed by bland and ubiquitous morning TV interviews, and, if you re lucky, an innocuous appearance on Oprah, probably followed by a massive boost in sales However, there is usually a fairly large group of people absolutely pissed off by the book or film because it simplifies or overlooks some crucial matter or matters.I m aware that Pollan made it all the way to Oprah, and I didn t want to be what some call an Oprah sheep, but I just couldn t hate The Omnivore s Dilemma no matter how hard I tried.Pollan goes into quite a bit of detail throughout the book, but in a general way, we could say that he examines the American supermarket and notices that it seems to present food in a way that is detached from the production of food, particularly the natural processes on which food production relies Pollan examines how food is produced and explores three food chains the industrial, the pastoral, and the personal If food production was a spectrum, then the industrial monoculture, feedlots, preservatives, processed foods, and international shipping and the personal hunter gatherer would be at opposing ends Although Pollan acknowledges that a hunter gatherer model is an unrealistic way to feed a country, he points out that it has the benefit of connecting the eater to what we might call the ecology of food So try to move closer to the personal, conscious method of eating by finding an alternative food chain.What does this spectrum mean for us Organic food does not rely on pesticides or antibiotics, but it is closer to industrial than the personal because it s shipped around the world Buying food from a local farmer moves us closer to personal since we have some idea of where our food comes from Meat eaters that have actually seen the animal they re eating die or how it dies are closer to the personal end of the spectrum Veggie eaters that eat from the supermarket are closer to the industrial If nothing else, I can say that I never thought of food in quite this way until I d read this book.In fact, there are a lot of ways that I ve never thought about food until I read this book Pollan clearly has a passion for discussing food and he also has the ability to turn what are often quite obviously contrived experiments into enjoyable reading.I said that I was struggling to find someone that hates The Omnivore s Dilemma, but I wasn t entirely unsuccessful My wife is sick of hearing me talk about Michael Pollan So if you hated the book and would like to convince me that it s awful, my wife will surely thank you for your kindness.In the meantime, I thought The Omnivore s Dilemma was fantastic.


  4. says:

    Wow, it seems like a lot of people didn t notice that this kinda sucked Weird It read to me like he wrote The Botany of Desire, decided that that framework a loose structure in which he can just talk alternately interesting and totally self serving shit for a whole book and figured he d give it another go, but this time as his MAGNUM OPUS And I was pretty into it, for the most part, but in a lot of the parts where he thinks he s being super even handed, he s actually often being a boring middle aged white liberal dude with boring tenured college professor politics I mean, have you read the part in this book where he decides that animals shouldn t be killed, declares himself a vegetarian, gets stressed out, decides that being a vegetarian is stepping on your friends toes, then says a bunch of total fucking nothing for twenty minutes I listened to the audiobook which, by the way, makes this book sound super preachy even if it isn t, because of the narrator s tone of voice and decides that vegetarianism isn t a viable way of life Even though, I don t know, something like a million billion people have been living that way for pretty much forever Just admit it, Mike you like eating meat, don t want to make the effort to stop, convinced Peter Singer to concede that, sure, if you re going to eat meat, it s better to eat meat that s been ethically raised and slaughtered aduh , and decided that that settles it Pete Singer said you don t have to be a vegetarian, so let s just OH MAN after the vegetarian part we are about three quarters of the way in at this point Mike decides that he s going to be a hunter, so he writes two hours it is a trip for me to listen to a book because I do it so rarely, but I am driving across the country and it is a wide country of the most florid, masturbatory prose I have ever had the privilege of consuming in any medium ON and ON and ON and ON about the great natural dance, and how probably when you shoot an animal it releases THC the active ingredient in marijuana a cannabanoid, which is a science word into your brain, cause it sure feels like getting stoned And the beauty of how time slows down when you look through a rifle sight, and how now he is better than people who hunt in their real lives Thanks for that, Mike Also thanks for your total lack of solutions for people who can t afford or don t have access to organically grown local fuckin cows that got to play dress up whenever they wanted up until Temple Grandin killed them Actually, thanks for your total lack of solutions to anything besides get your friend to clean the pig you shoot, SPOILER.It s just The Botany of Desire was pretty fun You do better when you tell me about Johnny Appleseed, Michael Pollan, than you do when you try to tell me how to eat Also I know you did it first but Eating Animals does a better job of explaining about how animals are tortured in american corporate agriculture The student has become the teacher O oh


  5. says:

    I love food I really love food I believe it is one of the most fascinating cultural facts in our lives I particularly love food that is taken as meals and then the words that gather about meals not least that most beautiful word sharing Because food is never better than when it is shared as ours Recently I was delighted to learn the etymology of the word companion That has become my favourite way to describe the people I m fond of The word comes from Latin and means with bread that is, someone you share bread with Isn t that the most beautiful of metaphors Then again, there is food and then there is food and this is a book about all of the various types of food available to us in this modern world of ours It is a book that has made me think about what I eat, how I eat it and to question what can only be called the morality of food And then it also made me think of the psychology of food and the sociology of food in ways I really didn t expect.The book reminded me of many other books It reminded me of Fast Food Nation, but I think I enjoyed this which is really saying something It reminded me of Orion s Legacy too, and not just because of the hunting stuff towards the end This guy is so engaging and interesting And like any good meal there are general themes and flavours but also many tasty asides This book is structured around four meals Before bringing us to the table for each of these meals he explains how the food got to the table too The four meals are related to the various ways food is obtained in our modern world Naturally, the first is industrial farming and the first meal is a McDonald s hamburger eaten in a car that is being driven at 60 miles an hour Did you know that one in five meals eaten in America are eaten in a car Isn t that the saddest statistic you have heard today Recently I ve been reading books about economics which have turned out to be very much in favour of free market economics Essentially, they have told the story of how any interference in the operation of free markets is anathema and that the damnation thus brought about by this interference is found in the distortions that invariably cause harm to what they initially sought to protect The story of corn farming in the USA is a horribly vivid illustration of the effects of the interference in the operation of market forces leading to grotesque distortions which achieve the opposite of this interference s original intent Industrial production of corn using fossil fuel fertilisers so that the corn can be either turned into sugar to create rivers of soft drinks or chaff to feed cows in ways nature never intended is than just morally questionable The lives of these cows are an unspeakable torture, made no less so by the fact we have short circuited their lives to a mere 14 months These animals don t normally eat corn and the descriptions of their sufferings when they are forced to is both repulsive and infuriating If you don t come away from reading this section thinking, Not in my name I can only say you are totally lacking in compassion This is an industry that could hardly make itself less sustainable It is clear that it needs to be changed, in fact, it needs to be done away with.What I liked most about this book was that it didn t then say organic is best, buy organic which is what I thought was coming In fact, he spends a lot of time talking about how organic food isn t necessarily environmentally friendly food I am one of those dags oh, Australian slang it actually means the shit that gets caught in the wool around a sheep s arse, but has come to mean someone who is a bit naff , for my English friends, and dorky for my American ones who buys free range eggs, not because I think they taste any better I m sure they don t but because I can t bring myself to eat eggs from chickens that have been treated so appallingly When I didn t think about it, everything was fine but once I did think about it I would rather pay the extra dollar or two so as to be able to enjoy the eggs and not feel like a Nazi prison guard Some of what he says here about free range chickens is also disturbing and the phrase false advertising comes to mind.However, his description of pastoral food is a pure delight and possibly worth reading all on its own if you are in a hurry and don t want to read the whole book You know, if you are after the fast food version Sustainable, thoughtful, inspiring this really is the heart of the lesson of this book and was nearly enough to make me want to go off and start a farm It also contains what is, for me, the saddest line in the book about the A grade students in the countryside being stolen from the farms and the D grade students being left behind to be exploited by the clever people from Wall Street and to donate lots of money to televangelists The sad fact is that I found this sad mostly because it confirms so many of my prejudices about those who live in rural areas it is not hard to see why Marx proposed the mass industrialisation of agriculture It was the only way he could imagine of dragging these poor souls out of the horrendous world of ignorance and fear that clungs to them like the mud that sticks to their boots.I think many people may feel this book looses its way towards the end particularly where he goes off to hunt and gather his own food to prepare his final meal That is what I thought as this part started At least, until he got into his stride which, as always, did not take very long The stuff he has to say about mushrooms, for instance is utterly fascinating I had no idea that we know so little about mushrooms In fact, our ignorance of mushrooms seems quite staggering Pollan handles those on the lunar end of the fungus world lunar in both the figurative and literal senses of the word with a deftness and wit that is a pure joy If you are thinking of picking the eyes out of this book then this section is another must read.There are very few pleasures in life that are human than preparing a meal for the people you love At least twice in this book he mentions Freud and sex and suggests that Freud could have better based his ideas on desire for food I suspect that today we are not nearly as stuffed up about sex as we are about food I learnt an awful lot from this book and had a really nice time with the author as he taught me these things he is a very clever man and an engaging writer If I had lots time on my hands I would like to write an Australian version of this book, about where our food comes from and the costs of the inputs into producing it I would also, if I had lots and lots time, like to spend some time learning how to find field mushrooms and to learn about what makes these remarkable creatures tick Did you know that fungi are closely related to animals than to plants And the dilemma Well, actually, there are many, many dilemmas between industrial and sustainable food, between eating new things and eating what you know , between conscious eating and wilful blindness This book didn t make the writer a vegetarian, and it didn t make me one either but I did come away from this book wanting to be aware of what I eat and what the choices I make when deciding what to eat mean.If you want to learn about the real eating disorder affecting the world this really is a book for you.


  6. says:

    He makes some good points but in the end, it smacks of well off white man over simplifying an incredibly complex issue What the book has going for it is that it s a best seller, especially to the faux liberal, over educated set and it s at least making them THINK about where their food is coming from What I don t like though, is that it lets them off the hook as far as accountability if they just go about buying the RIGHT kind of meat Well, all of that free range humane meat goes to the same creepy slaughterhouses that the factory farmed animals go to so really, from an ethical stand point, it s no better Oh and the USDA Guidelines on what is considered free range are ridiculous, 5 minutes ACCESS to the outdoors a day earns you free range classification Also, the idea of getting all of your meat from nearby sustainable family farms who do their own slaughter and processing is really great in theory but then won t it become a class issue when only rich people can afford it Oh but I guess those are the same people reading this book so it s cool Oh and lots of his numbers were way offhe said we kill millions of animals a year for food in this country, like BILLIONS I talked to a guy yesterday who worked in a chicken slaughtering line in a prison way back when and said that he was responsible for personally killing 8,000 birds a day slicing their necks open ugh Oh another positive I did learn a lot about corn from the book and have pretty much backed away from anything made with it.


  7. says:

    Man, this book is great The best book I read last year, easily Mushrooms, chicken slaughter, sustainability, french fries, soul searching questions, it s all here Just read it already Okay, if that didn t sell you, here s info, from the review I wrote for my farm community Stearns Farm, Framingham, MA The Omnivore s Dilemma created a lot buzz since its publication in 2006, so you may have read it already If you haven t picked it up yet, consider checking it out At 464 pages, it is definitely on the long side, but it s an engaging, easy read, and it puts the question where do we get our food front and center in a fascinating way Its four different sections break up the book nicely you could read one section a month, for example, if your reading time is limited , and it is also coming out in convenient paperback form next month.In the book, Michael Pollan traces the history and ingredients of four different meals one from McDonald s, one from Whole Foods market, one from a small farm in Virginia, and one composed of ingredients that he gathered and killed on his own The meal from McDonald s about 70% of which is derived from corn allows him to take a trip down the rabbit hole into the world of high fructose corn syrup and the massive, genetically modified mono farms that produce the majority of corn in this country The Whole Foods meal is obviously a step up from this, although here Pollan explores the conundrum of eating organically if that means flying peaches in from Chile in December This section of the book does a fine job explaining that organic does not necessarily mean sustainable Next Pollan spends a week on a farm in Virginia that serves in many ways as an idyllic model for where to get your food Hello, Stearns Finally, in a section that is as much adventure series as it is agricultural critique, Pollan creates a gourmet meal for his friends using only items he gathered himself, including bread made with yeast collected from his backyard and sea salt procured from the Northern California coast on which he lives.Hunting and gathering all of your own food these days may seem unfeasible, especially to create the kind of elaborate feast Pollan does Although Stearns provides the opportunity to get much closer to that goal However, even if you are unable to rustle around in the woods for wild boar or visit a fire blackened forest to pick l mushrooms, as Pollan does, you will come away from the book re energized with the commitment to eat locally and sustainably Pollan may not have deliberately set out to promote CSAs such as Stearns Farm, but that is a happy side benefit of the work He also writes sensitively and without a sense of moral superiority it can feel unusual to read a book on this subject that doesn t make you feel bad about yourself And yet, the information Pollan presents simply and persuasively will compel you to both thought and action, making The Omnivore s Dilemma an excellent read and great inspiration for the next time you are out in the pick your own beds, gathering food for your family s dinner.www.outland ish.comHonest Tales from Overseas


  8. says:

    After reading books like these, I m not sure what to eat any Michael Pollan, a sort of food journalist, doesn t always give you the kind of clear cut answers you d like if you re reading books like this in order to learn what s healthy for your body and what s not However, here are two important things I did learn 1 Eating only one thing is not good for you in the long run 2 Corn is in nearly everything we eat these days.America grows corn The American government pays for its farmers to grow corn Corn syrup goes into an alarmingly high percentage of our daily foods Our farmed fish and cows subsist on corn Hell, some of our cars run on corn CORN Another issue is the nitrates used to grow all this corn Because it s less physically demanding, farmers spread chemical nitrates over their fields To ensure a good crop, they overcompensate All this excess washes into our water system, contaminating our drinking water and destroying fish habitats The Gulf of Mexico spreading outward from the Mississippi Delta is fucked The Omnivore s Dilemma is one of those books I ve been hearing about for years In the past, I ve read other Pollan books and they were good, but for some reason I held off on this one Maybe it was like that character in Lost holding on to a copy of Our Mutual Friend, the only Dickens book he hasn t read I knew this book would be special I wanted to wait and savor it I also knew it would be slightly depressing I wanted to be ready for it.But it s not all doom and gloom Pollan is hopeful and allows for the light at the end of the tunnel He s also willing to try new things like hunting and vegetarianism He gets his hands dirty and that s what I like to see in my journalists Fantastic book Recommended to all


  9. says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed The Omnivore s Dilemma by Michael Pollan He s been one of my favorite writers, ever since I read A Place of My Own, some years ago And I stumble across stories by him in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, often quite by accident, and then look at the byline to see who this talented writer is, and there s Pollan again.The book has the distinct danger of making you annoying to your spouse partner children, because you ll be reading along and feel compelled to share a fact about how industrial corn production has wormed its way into nearly every aspect of the American diet I know my 12 year old daughter cringes when we go the store, and I inspect the ingredients, calling out, Yep, there s corn in this, too Pollan is an immensely fun writer, because he enjoys learning about this stuff, and he s skilled at taking the reader along on the journey, not just through the facts, but through feedlots, and chicken slaughtering, and mushroom hunting He takes a close look at the industrialization of food production which depends heavily and crazily on corn , large scale organic farming, and then at a sustainable farming operation, and then around a meal that he assembles using his hunting and gathering skills relying heavily on the skills of others.For our family, this book seems perfectly timed, since we ve been making huge dietary changes around here since Halloween, cutting out animal products and most refined and processed foods We were doing it for health reasons, but this books adds an entirely new level of justification Not that Pollan is saying you should become a vegan Not at all He s saying that we owe it to ourselves to become conscious about what we actually put in our mouths, and the effects that its creation is having on us, our culture, and our planet.My only disappointment is that in the final wrap up, he focuses on the extreme distance between the industrialized food he and his family consumes and the meal that he makes through hunting and gathering, without mentioning enough of the sustainable farm that he d visited That section made me want to go out and buy some land and start farming Tomorrow We spent so much time with Pollan through this book, I wanted a stronger sense of whether all this had actually managed to change his day to day buying and eating habits But those are really minor points Also, don t miss a terrific essay Pollan wrote for the NY Times in January, Unhappy Meals, about what we really should eat Really, it s the answer to what was bugging me about the end of his book It should be included as an addendum to every copy of The Omnivore s Dilemma.


  10. says:

    Update 5 23 2010 Terrific piece by Michael Pollan in the NYRB June 10, 2010, The Food Movement, Rising in which he reviews five books Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal, Terra Madre Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities, All You Can Eat How Hungry is America , The Taste for Civilization Food, Politics, and Civil Society, Eating AnimalsI am beginning to wallow and bask in the mire of food politics, subject of Pollan s piece It s interesting to read the comments section after any article dealing with meat or vegetarianism One can almost see the participants spitting on each other It s like watching Mormon fundamentalists defend polygamy to the College of Cardinals To quote Troy Duster from Pollan s piece No movement is as coherent and integrated as it seems from afar, and no movement is as incoherent and fractured as it seems from up close And as we learned from OD, food is all politics from the huge changes initiated by the Nixon administration to bring down the price of food to Michelle Obama s efforts to change the way kids eat As long as there is government to promote the interests of one group or another, there will be these kinds of battles, but I doubt any of us would wish the total absence of regulation desired by Joel Salatin except maybe Rand Paul.It s an interesting communitarian movement, perhaps a throwback to the sixties, but one that appeals to both right and left the desire to localize and remove oneself from the larger society That is largely what I meant when I referred elsewhere to Pollan s book as a Libertarian Manifesto In his 2006 book Crunchy Cons How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun loving organic gardeners, evangelical free range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right wing nature lovers, America, Rod Dreher identifies a strain of libertarian conservatism, often evangelical, that regards fast food as anathema to family values, and has seized on local food as a kind of culinary counterpart to home schooling.Major editing 5 23 2010 about half the content identical to my review of Foer s Eating Animals.minor editing 4 16 10Let s see, things we can t or shouldn t eat butter, steak, meat, spinach because of the salmonella or maybe it s only the organic spinach that gets contaminated , apples because of the alar, salt, sugar, fat, any food not bought at a farmer s market, any food bought at a non union grocery, any food bought at a chain, any food that s not organic, any food that s labeled organic by the USDA because their standards aren t strict enough, kosher food, non kosher, non grass fed beef and now we ve learned that grass fed beef is salmonella contaminated, too pasteurized milk, raw milk, etc etc , This issue seems to engender as much animosity as whether communion should be allowed to non Catholics Factions abound, each with a slightly different take on the issue those who believe eating meat is immoral those who believe eating meat from factory farms is immoral those who believe eating meat is immoral because it s environmentally unsound those who believe eating meat is bad for your health those who believe eating meat is fine those who believe eating some kinds of meat is fine those who believe eating meat is immoral because animals are sentient beings and those who think the issue is cultural rather than moral or environmental How to reconcile these views and where does each of the authors take a stance All of these views represent a moral position, i.e a personal one in which the believer needs to persuade others of the necessity of adopting his view to the exclusion of the others and convince that not to do so will result in calamity Up front we have to recognize that only people who have tons of food available, i.e., the rich, would even consider any of the positions Let me state my biases up front I am very skeptical of any argument that proposes calamity will result if a particular position is not adopted I am skeptical of moral arguments not ethical ones I believe that the most difficult decisions require choosing between grays, not black and white that sentience as we understand it requires some form of self awareness and we have little way to judge that in beings that we don t understand can t communicate with and that sentience varies tremendously across species, indeed across individuals within that species and that pain as we understand it may be very different across animals and plants with structures David Foster Wallace in Consider the Lobster discusses scientific evidence that lobsters, because of their structure, may in fact feel a state of euphoria when being boiled rather than pain as we understand it I worked on two dairy farms for several years, milking about 120 cows, both in stanchions and and parlors, dehorning calves, and shoveling shit Contrary to Foer s claims, cows are not treated regularly with antibiotics A test tube of milk coming out of the farmer s tank is pulled before loading on the truck, and this is tested at the plant before being mixed with the rest, and if any suspicion of antibiotic is found, the entire load is dumped and the farmer loses the value of the entire load We were meticulous about dumping milk from any treated cow usually for mastitis for the required period before selling it Those who think drinking raw milk is the answer are asking for trouble We did, but that was probably stupid Besides that I saw what was in the strainer sometimes None of that milk is tested and come on folks, there s a good reason why we started pasteurizing milk It saved a lot of lives I don t have any experience with feedlots, but I do know that stress on animals is to be avoided at all costs as it slows the rate of growth, cuts profits, and leads to disease It s impossible to discuss these books in a vacuum, and I need to start out by making clear several assumptions 1 Humans are omnivores biologically and, in fact, only very recently say about 10,000 years ago began to farm grains for food Before that we were hunter gatherers relying primarily on meat and berries.2 Everything is interconnected Just not eating meat will not even begin to address the issues of environmental degradation Computers, roads, cars, pets, travel, ipods, plastics, toilet paper, etc., all have their downsides If Foer and Pollan and Berry et all choose to emphasis one aspect of life and deliver broadsides against that particular activity that s fine as long as we understand that limiting that activity will have a minuscule effect on the environment More effect would be had if all the hand wringers stopped flying about the country wasting fuel and polluting the environment, just staying put Problem is that apocalyptic thinking and lecturing is very profitable.3 Environmental activism is very much a white, rich, western game People who have no money and who live a hand to mouth existence can t afford to choose The best way to promote conscious environmental action is by raising living standards around the world It also reduces the rate of population growth.4 My very strong bias is that the only practical solution to the myriad number of problems is technological Some examples algae oil is already being used successfully mixed with Jet A by Continental Airlines and the results are a reduction in carbon footprint of 60 80% and fuel efficiency of 1 2% production of methane gas as an energy source very clean burning from large factory farms, something not possible if the animals are parsed out in smaller farms where runoff occurs in large quantities, etc., etc 5 We quite naturally tend to read and find books and data that support a preconceived opinion and avoid those that present an opposing view.6 My other bias is that I m very sympathetic to vegetarianism, not veganism, for I love my bread and butter and cheese way too much I milked cows for several years, churned my own butter and would gladly have turned several fresh heifers into instant hamburger had I been able to after wiping their manure off my face If you ve ever milked cows you know exactly what I m talking about NB I have a problem with beliefs that are so strongly held that believers think they have to claim apocalypse will result if their beliefs aren t adopted by everyone The Inuit diet consisted of meat alone and meat taken from what is clearly a sentient animal To suggest they adopt a western, citified, cereal diet is wrong and ridiculous This is why one of my heroes is Norman Borlaug who virtually single handedly began the green revolution that increased wheat yields spectacularly He DID something, unlike the Paul Ehrlichs who just ran around making a fortune proclaiming the sky is falling ALL of Ehrlich s predictions have been wrong because of people like Borlaug I find the definition of what constitutes sentience to be worse than muddled and mixing up moral issues with that and environmental concerns makes the issues even murkier There are clearly differences in sentienceness from one species to another no one would argue that a snail has the same level of consciousness as a dog and whether that should play any part in deciding what to eat or not makes an interesting debate Personally, I wish the discussion would leave the realm of morality with its concomitant religious overtones and focus on the rational IMHO environmental concerns.I very much enjoyed Pollan, much to my surprise I actually listened to this and while Scott Brick is one of my favorite readers, he was all wrong for this book Way too pedantic sounding A very interesting book with tons of detail which I like displaying the symbiotic relationship we have with corn and fossil fuels, a very destructive relationship, but one that nevertheless has allowed us to feed many, many people than would have been possible otherwise Ultimately, something will have to change, we cannot continue to use 1.5 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of food Pollan emphasizes the mono culture of corn but the same problems exist with the banana and other crops In order to ship food to where it s needed requires products that mature at the same time, don t bruise easily, etc He also shows that virtually all the food we eat has been genetically modified, if not at the gene level, certainly through seed selection, chosen for productivity , disease resistance, and a variety of other qualities.I learned that in order to increase yields the nitrogen that was added was in the form of ammonium nitrate which existed as a surplus after world war two, no longer needed for explosives That nitrogen leaches off the ground, into wells, blue baby syndrome, too much nitrogen cause respiratory issues, and into the water supply in other ways As an aside, no one around here uses much of that, preferring anhydrous ammonia injection directly into the soil with presumably much less runoff I do have some issues with his very limited perspective on industrial farming, which he never defines, by the way My neighbors, family farms all, farm thousands of acres At what point does the size become optimum Families run feedlots, too My veterinarian has 40 steers in a feedlot Is that a factory farm They have the same conditions, the same feed, etc., as the larger feedlot a few miles away It s almost as if Pollan had decided that farming on a grand scale was apocalyptic and then pulled together data to support his view His data with regard to corn prices are woefully out of date Just check commodity prices over the last five years His choice of George Naylor must have required considerable searching in order to find someone who thought just the way he did The history of price supports and the switch under the Nixon administration from a loan program to direct payments was something I had completely forgotten and had no idea how much influence it would have on corn production On the other hand, Butz s intent was to increase production to take the heat off Nixon following the huge increase in food prices as the price for corn had increased so dramatically All that being said, there s a lot of useful information, particularly with regard to government policy, and lots of fuel to support the libertarian side of the equation There is no question that our over reliance on fossil fuels will get us into serious trouble very soon.A final comment All of the recent food books could only have been written by a society that doesn t have to worry about where its next meal is coming from.The problem we have is scale Wrigley just changed their gum wrappers from the little foil wrap to paper and thereby saved the equivalent of 60 million cans of aluminum There s the problem in a nutshellFun trivia the corn plant has 32,000 genes, than humans Astonishing Knowledge Magazine Mr Apr 2010


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