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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of…
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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Michael Pollan (Author)

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12,206306352 (4.23)467
What should we have for dinner? 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 might shorten your life. Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from a national eating disorder. As the cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast food outlet confronts us with a bewildering and treacherous landscape, what's at stake becomes not only our own and our children's health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth. Pollan follows each of the food chains--industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves--from the source to the final meal, always emphasizing our coevolutionary relationship with the handful of plant and animal species we depend on. The surprising answers Pollan offers have profound political, economic, psychological, and even moral implications for all of us.--From publisher description.… (more)
Member:raivivek
Title:The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Authors:Michael Pollan (Author)
Info:Penguin Press (2006), Edition: First, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:to-read, goodreads

Work details

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

  1. 111
    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)
  2. 145
    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.
  3. 50
    Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating by Jane Goodall (thebooky)
  4. 41
    Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (crazybatcow)
    crazybatcow: Very similar perspective, though Pollan focuses more on the "process" of getting "food" to the table.
  5. 31
    In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed (Plus) by Carl Honoré (Musecologist)
  6. 20
    Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?: The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization by Andrew Lawler (AmourFou)
  7. 10
    The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan (meggyweg, meggyweg)
  8. 21
    The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith (owen1218)
  9. 10
    American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields by Rowan Jacobsen (DetailMuse)
  10. 11
    Mercy For Animals: One Man's Quest to Inspire Compassion and Improve the Lives of Farm Animals by Nathan Runkle (renardkitsune)
  11. 00
    Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public by Steven Druker (davidgn)
  12. 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)
  13. 00
    Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge by Gordon Edgar (Othemts)
  14. 11
    Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals by Karen Dawn (SqueakyChu)
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» See also 467 mentions

English (303)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (305)
Showing 1-5 of 303 (next | show all)
I usually draft reviews before I finish the book, but I don’t post them until the last page is read. For that reason, I am posting here what was written, what feels like a long time ago. But I’ve decided to keep it because my mythopoetic nonsense provides (I think) a useful counter to the bean counter view it’s so easy to take with something like food.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Robert Eyton, an Anglican priest, in his 1892 book, “The Lord’s Prayer: Sermons”, uses a phrase I’d like to acquaint you with: “the devil’s bread”. That probably sounds harsh. Eyton was actually quite pro-science and learning, even materialistic, to a fault, arguably, having a higher opinion of nineteenth-century science and progress than “The Imitation of Christ” and much religious poetry. But he also believed that if we do not give thanks for our food, and live a life of gratitude, that whatever feast we might enjoy is not a blessing from God but “the devil’s bread”.

He writes, “In the simplest bodily matters we know the truth of the saying that ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’. Wine that strengthens one is unwholesome to another. Cannot we carry the same thought a little higher. Is it not quite conceivable that the bread we have may be God’s bread or the devil’s bread, and that we keep it God’s bread by saying this prayer.” Perhaps all this is nothing but a digression of mine, and surely Pollan would find the language too strict, although he also thinks that traditional culture manages its meals better than bean-counting moderns do, so what to make of that I leave up to you. All I’ll say is that, based on what I’ve gleaned from “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, eating at McDonald’s is another, more straightforward, way of eating “the devil’s bread”.

Pollan calls this sort of thing “industrial corn”, and I won’t try to explain all the ways it impoverishes *all* the people involved with it, from the farmers who grow it, to the world’s poor—not invited to the meal—to those who eat it, to those who (unmentioned by Pollan) are spiritually impoverished by profiting off these unhealthy investments. (Eyton adds that “gambling” or a “dishonest trade custom” are another way of eating “the devil’s bread”. One way for religion to irritate is for it to be irrelevant; the other way is for it to be altogether too relevant.) I’ll just quote you a few of Pollan’s observations of eating a fast-food meal:

“.... These, at least, were my somewhat fevered speculations, as we sped down the highway putting away our fast-food lunch. What is it about fast food? Not only is it served in a flash, but more often than not it’s eaten that way too: we finished our meal in under ten minutes. Since we were in the convertible and the sun was shining I can’t blame the McDonald’s ambiance. Perhaps the reason you eat this food quickly is because it doesn’t bear savoring. The more you concentrate on how it tastes, the less like anything it tastes. I said before that McDonald’s serves a kind of comfort food, but after a few bites I’m more inclined to think they’re selling something more schematic than that—something more like a signifier of comfort food. So you eat more and more quickly, hoping somehow to catch up to the original idea of a cheeseburger or French fry as it retreats over the horizon. And so it goes, bite after bite, until you feel not satisfied exactly, but simply, regrettably, full.”

Ask yourself, then, (if it’s not too weird), what kind of meal *would* that old deluder, the devil, offer you up? (“In hell, there’s a big hotel....”) He’d get you to throw it all away for the promise of pleasure, sure, but in the end, would he ever really deliver?”

Anyway, Pollan says a lot else, of course, some of which I disagree with but much of which is complicated, so I’ll more or less leave it there. I’m a little afraid of making my own errors trying to correct his; I wrote a few (deleted) paragraphs about whether there might have been a few too many chapters at the end, maybe a bit too much intellectualism and not enough intellectual service, but that’s a tough subject and I may have pushed the idea of over-large scope too hard, so I cut it.

I will say this, though: he probably should have re-arranged the order of the meals in the manuscript; the way he does it is a little elitist, going from common (industrial corn), to possible but less common (big organic and local), to basically impossible for moderns (hunter-gatherer). He should have started with the past (hunter gatherer) and gone through the dominant present system (industrial corn) to possible present-day alternatives and seeds of future systems (big organic and local). Of course, what I’m really asking for is a different style, which is to say, a different outlook to clothe the facts in. Elitism displacing service is a thorny issue, but I do think that it is present here, even if it is hard to define well.

It’s certainly *usually* a good book, that much I’ll say.
  goosecap | Aug 10, 2020 |
In my head I re-titled this the "Privileged" Omnivore's Dilemma. Even though I disagreed with some of Pollan's conclusions or assumptions, I very much enjoyed his telling about his own journey and discovery of the food he eats and where it comes from. At least he did acknowledge that he was looking at the issue from a point of privilege.

This isn't meant to be a treatise on the "right" way to grow/raise food, it is meant to shine a light on what is and take a look at it to see if there isn't a better way. To know where our food comes from and how it is raised, what goes into producing it for our tables. There isn't a farmer I have known (and I was raised on a farm and live in farm country) who wouldn't agree with that.

If anything was missing from this book, it was the many smaller farmers around the country who work their whole lives to raise food because they love their land. In fact, Pollan gave the impression there were only the mega farmers and the small organic local farmers. I understand, he was going for the extremes and making a point, but he really gave an uninformed picture of the many hard-working men and women in America on smaller farms. In fact, he described them as uneducated, greedy fools. My father, my brothers, my sister, her husband, their children, and most every farmer I know has been to college and are some of the most intelligent people around. People who not only have book smarts, but also understand practical living, the land, the plants, animals and weather. You have to be smart these days in order to navigate the business aspect of farming, not to mention the nutrients, climate, and other requirements of whatever crop you are raising.

That offense aside, I did enjoy this city boy's journey to find out where his food came from, and the last chapters on his experience hunting and gathering were quite entertaining. I think he understood his own hubris in the matter. As a girl who grew up among hunter-gatherers as well as farmers, I found his experiences entertaining.

Will this change the way I eat? I doubt it, because I already have chosen to eat only food I can identify, not highly processed "flavored" food. I do go to the Farmer's Market because I want to encourage local people to grow food. I will also buy food at the grocery store because life is hard and I don't need one more thing to burden my load. Sometimes a person just has to make life simpler. I am not worried about the baby greens in a box. I think it is a miracle that humans have figured out a process to grow and harvest them and make them available to people in cities or far-flung locations so that we too can have delicious salads. ( )
1 vote MrsLee | Jul 10, 2020 |
If everyone in America read this book, we might be able to fix our obesity plague and bring down medical costs, save the environment, stimulate the economy, and make informed choices in our elections. This book describes in detail the greatest environmental crime of our era, the agro-industrial-government collusion to turn corn into the dominant source of calories in our food supply. From the good intentions of increasing food supply and lowering prices, we've created an eco-system that depends on fossil fuels instead of sunlight.

Not only should you read this book, you should shove it into the hands of anyone you know. It just might be the most important book written this century. ( )
  James_Maxey | Jun 29, 2020 |
paperback
  mikeemcg | Jun 28, 2020 |
This book gives a fascinating look into the food we eat and how it relates to the world around us. Dealing with some animal welfare concerns without the use of graphic details to horrify you. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in better understanding how we got to where we are today in terms of what we eat. ( )
  JonOwnbey | May 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 303 (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)
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pollan, Michaelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gissinger, HansCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haggar, DarrenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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What should we have for dinner?
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The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Omnivore's Dilemma: Young Readers Edition, and The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids are three separate works. Please do not combine them.
ISBN 0606087230 is for The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat, Young Readers Edition
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What should we have for dinner? 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 might shorten your life. Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from a national eating disorder. As the cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast food outlet confronts us with a bewildering and treacherous landscape, what's at stake becomes not only our own and our children's health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth. Pollan follows each of the food chains--industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves--from the source to the final meal, always emphasizing our coevolutionary relationship with the handful of plant and animal species we depend on. The surprising answers Pollan offers have profound political, economic, psychological, and even moral implications for all of us.--From publisher description.

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