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The omnivore's dilemma : a natural history…

The omnivore's dilemma : a natural history of four meals (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Michael Pollan

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9,815257294 (4.24)408
Title:The omnivore's dilemma : a natural history of four meals
Authors:Michael Pollan
Info:New York : Penguin, 2007, c2006.
Collections:Your library
Tags:Food, agricultural

Work details

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (2006)

  1. 134
    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver (heidialice, lorax)
    lorax: More thoughtful and personal than Omnivore's Dilemma, in many ways it picks up where Pollan leaves off.
  2. 90
    In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan (marzipanz, chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Less of a narrative than "The Omnivore's Dilemma", "In Defense of Food" is a succinct argument for considering what we eat, and includes potted advice for consumers who prefer a set of simple rules for eating. As the title suggests, this is perhaps the better analysis of the way the food industry affects the eater and what we can do about it.… (more)
  3. 40
    Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating by Jane Goodall (thebooky)
  4. 20
    Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck (night_sky)
  5. 21
    Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (crazybatcow)
    crazybatcow: Very similar perspective, though Pollan focuses more on the "process" of getting "food" to the table.
  6. 21
    In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed (Plus) by Carl Honore (Musecologist)
  7. 10
    The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith (owen1218)
  8. 00
    The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan (meggyweg, meggyweg)
  9. 00
    American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields by Rowan Jacobsen (DetailMuse)
  10. 11
    Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating by Jeffrey M. Smith (piononus)
  11. 01
    Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals by Karen Dawn (SqueakyChu)

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» See also 408 mentions

English (255)  Spanish (1)  All languages (256)
Showing 1-5 of 255 (next | show all)
Subject matter and research aside, Pollan's style is simply lovely; the writing is far better than the usual journalism-nonfiction book, which makes it a pleasure to read and re-read. As for the substance, his subject is interesting; his research and reporting are well done and seem to have held up; and the book has been extremely influential to me and family as well as, apparently, many others. If authors are like dinner companions, he is welcome at my table any time. He manages to have a point of view without being dogmatic or ideological; he tells personal stories and anecdotes without being boring and annoying; he knows what he's talking about while leaving room for new information and interpretations; he displays curiosity, critical thinking, and good humor; in short, an extremely pleasant companion. ( )
  charliesierra | Nov 10, 2014 |
This book follows the journey of the author as he seeks to follow the course his food takes from wherever it is grown/raised all the way to his plate. The first part of the book, with its description of how corn has changed the way everybody in America eats (without us really knowing it), is very interesting and I'd give that part five stars. The rest of the book I'd give three stars. ( )
  piersanti | Sep 28, 2014 |
It's not often that a book can immediately change the way you live your day-to-day life. But The Omnivore's Dilemma changed mine, immediately.

For me, it was just a matter of learning things I didn't know before. I didn't have to be convinced to change my behavior. I just had to gain full knowledge of what my behavior was supporting--its effects on my body, on society, on the environment, and on the world around me. And that was enough.

So much of the food we buy and eat today goes to such great lengths to conceal its origins and its larger effect on the world. Take some time to learn what you're putting into your body and what you're spending your money on. Then think about why. Then decide what you want to do about it.

Instead of going on about how important this book was to me (and completely avoiding any analysis of it as a work of literature), I think the best way to demonstrate some of the changes I've made is to share a few of the websites I've recently bookmarked. Once I started reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, I started researching on my own. How can I make practical changes in my own life? With more information and knowledge of local resources.

  • Co-op Directory Service: Find a co-op with local, natural food near you! Plus a few good articles about where we get the food we eat.

  • Local Harvest: Farms, CSAs, you-pick, farmer's markets, meat processors... a great way to find local places near you to get quality food.

  • Eat Wild: Another place to find good farmers, markets, and buying clubs near you, with an emphasis on pasture products like grass-fed cows.

  • Pick Your Own: I'd actually found this site a year prior to reading The Omnivore's Dilemma when I started canning vegetables from my garden. But the site has a ton more resources about local pick-your-own farms and how to safely store food. And you've never had anything like the homemade ketchup recipe on this site.

  • When are they in season?: Some really nice graphics showing when certain fruits, veggies, and herbs are in season in the Northern hemisphere. Another couple options here. (I found both through this site.)

  • How to harvest wild yeast: Near the end of the book, Michael Pollan makes bread from yeast he harvests from the air. Seriously! And it's good! So that must be worth a try. (I haven't followed these instructions yet, and they seems a bit more complicated than how he describes it, but I intend to try this soon.)

  • Citric acid: Not one person I've mentioned this to knew it already: citric acid is a corn product! Pretty much every ingredient you can't immediately picture is a corn product! Actual corn is great, but don't you want to know what you're putting in your body?

  • Corn-free living: Since learning how MUCH corn we eat on a daily basis, I started to wonder. What do people with corn allergies eat? Could I make at least one meal without a single corn product? Yes, I can. (Hint: it mostly just involves avoiding processed foods.)

  • Dog Food Advisor: This one is a little tangential. I used to think I was feeding my dog good, dry food. But I thought he had a sensitive stomach, because the tiniest change would throw him off. Now that I have more information, I know the food wasn't very good. He hasn't gotten sick once on the new food we picked out after consulting this site, despite the fact that I accidentally switched flavors on him while he was on antibiotics after minor surgery.

  • CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture): This site kept popping up in my searches. It's an organization based around Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in San Francisco and has a ton of local resources. But it also has a lot of general information about food that can benefit everyone.

Ohio-focused info (I live in central Ohio, and naturally, I looked first for information about my local area. I'm sure a quick search would turn up similar resources for your area.)

  • Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association: Ohio-based group with many webinars and in-person events about local, healthy, sustainable, and organic food. You can also search for products and farms and get updates on farm policy.

  • Fox Hollow Farm: A sustainable farm in central Ohio (where I live) that seems very much in line with how Michael Pollan describes Polyface. I've missed the on-farm events for this season, but I plan to get here as soon as possible.

  • Ohio wildlife species guides: I find I'm really curious about the plants and animals around me now. What could I eat? What should I avoid? What is invasive? What the heck is eating my Brussels sprout plants? These guides by Ohio Department of Natural Resources help.

  • Snowville Creamery: If you're drinking or eating dairy other than Snowville in central Ohio, you are so doing it wrong. Improve your life. (This Mother Jones article explains why you may be able to enjoy Snowville even if you think you're lactose intolerant.)

  • Clintonville Community Market (aka, the Clintonville Co-Op): Great local options for whole foods, processed foods, and even beauty supplies. I've been a member for a couple years, but I'm lazy about getting there since it's not in my neighborhood. Probably time to get over that.

I hope that small peek conveys an idea of the wealth of information out there. You don't have to buy into a corporate or industrial food system. You have many options whether you live in the country or the city. All you need is knowledge!
( )
  JLSmither | Sep 28, 2014 |
Anyone who can eat a steak while reading Animal Liberation by Pete Singer has a much stronger stomach than I do. ( )
  kwbridge | Sep 6, 2014 |
The premise of this book, according to its author, springs from a fundamental question "What shall we have for dinner" - ostensibly simple enough but today becoming increasingly a dilemma. In exploring how and why it's become so complicated, Michael Pollan in his best forensic style, sets out on an in-depth exploration of our three major food chains - industrial, organic and hunter-gatherer.

As he so rightly points out, today more than ever we're confronted by a "bewildering and treacherous food landscape". If we don't make the right choices, we risk compromising our health and that of our children, but more, the very future of sustainable life. In other words, we can't go on doing what we're doing, the system won't hold up. Industrial agriculture, the main source of the food we eat, is steadily devouring existing energy resources as well as abusing the logic of nature.

He covers a huge amount of ground in this book. While the omnivore's dilemma itself may be fairly succinctly defined, (for humans who are designed to eat pretty much anything, in a world where they can eat pretty much anything, what are the implications of our food choices, morally, economically, environmentally and politically) the answers necessarily involve a vast field of research.

In Pollan's case, as is his habit, much of this is first-hand. He's prepared to educate himself by getting his hands dirty in all sorts of expected and unexpected ways (chicken killing for example). He's a writer who goes to extreme lengths to experience and understand the issues he writes about, which makes his work compelling. Even if you don't agree with him or baulk at some of his statements, you have to acknowledge that he's worked damn hard to investigate every nuance of the questions he's addressing.

Where he and I parted company was in the chapter on hunting, where as part of his foraging exploration, he determines to hunt and shoot a pig and involve himself in its gutting. He's honest enough to admit the ambivalence he feels looking at the subsequent photo taken of him standing next to his "kill". The self-glorification of the hunter sits uncomfortably with the consciousness that he's slaughtered a defenceless creature all in the name of "sport" (or in his case in the name of literary research perhaps) but certainly not because it was necessary for anyone's survival.

His investigations involve him eating different types of meals at different times - the two most polarised being a takeaway McDonalds eaten in the car, and the meal he prepares at the conclusion of the book using food that's been hunted, gathered, bred, grown, or otherwise produced in ways in which he's been intimately involved as a witness or co-producer.

In comparing these meals, which he describes as being "at the far extreme ends of the spectrum of human eating", he essentially sums up what all this has been about. In doing so, he highlights something we should all be aware of. How we eat represents the "different ways we have to engage the world that sustains us." One way is based on knowledge and understanding, while the other is based on ignorance, an ignorance fostered by the industrial food system and one in which we can choose to remain, or not. Whether that ignorance is wilful or not, it does mean we're complicit in whatever actions are carried out to get the food we eat from its origins, plant or animal based, to our tables.

Anyone who cares about what they eat, where it comes from, how it's produced and what the impacts of those processes are, needs to read this book. It doesn't have all the answers, but it certainly raises plenty of crucial questions. ( )
  Anne_Green | Jul 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 255 (next | show all)
But for Pollan, the final outcome is less important than the meal's journey from the soil to the plate. His supermeticulous reporting is the book's strength — you're not likely to get a better explanation of exactly where your food comes from.
added by carport | editNew York Times, David Kamp (Apr 23, 2006)
Wonderful Book!

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pollan, Michaelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haggar, DarrenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143038583, Paperback)

One of the New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of the Year

Winner of the James Beard Award

Author of #1 New York Times Bestsellers In Defense of Food and Food Rules

Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder. Will it be fast food tonight, or something organic? Or perhaps something we grew ourselves? The question of what to have for dinner has confronted us since man discovered fire. But as Michael Pollan explains in this revolutionary book, how we answer it now, as the dawn of the twenty-first century, may determine our survival as a species. Packed with profound surprises, The Omnivore's Dilemma is changing the way Americans thing about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating.

Coming from The Penguin Press in 2013, Michael Pollan’s newest book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation--the story of our most trusted food expert’s culinary education 

"Thoughtful, engrossing ... You're not likely to get a better explanation of exactly where your food comes from."
-The New York Times Book Review

"An eater's manifesto ... [Pollan's] cause is just, his thinking is clear, and his writing is compelling. Be careful of your dinner!"
-The Washington Post

"Outstanding... a wide-ranging invitation to think through the moral ramifications of our eating habits."
--The New Yorker

"If you ever thought 'what's for dinner' was a simple question, you'll change your mind after reading Pollan's searing indictment of today's food industry-and his glimpse of some inspiring alternatives.... I just loved this book so much I didn't want it to end."
-The Seattle Times


(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder. Will it be fast food tonight, or something organic? Or perhaps something we grew ourselves? The question of what to have for dinner has confronted us since man discovered fire. But as Michael Pollan explains in this revolutionary book, how we answer it now, at the dawn of the twenty-first century may determine our survival as a species.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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