Ô The Omnivore's Dilemma ↠´ Download by À Michael Pollan 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
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.
, 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 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
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.
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.