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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals [Kindle Edition]

Michael Pollan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,031 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $8.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

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.



"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




Michael Pollan’s newest book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation--the story of our most trusted food expert’s culinary education--was published by The Penguin Press in April 2013.






Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

[Signature]Reviewed by Pamela KaufmanPollan (The Botany of Desire) examines what he calls "our national eating disorder" (the Atkins craze, the precipitous rise in obesity) in this remarkably clearheaded book. It's a fascinating journey up and down the food chain, one that might change the way you read the label on a frozen dinner, dig into a steak or decide whether to buy organic eggs. You'll certainly never look at a Chicken McNugget the same way again.Pollan approaches his mission not as an activist but as a naturalist: "The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world." All food, he points out, originates with plants, animals and fungi. "[E]ven the deathless Twinkie is constructed out of... well, precisely what I don't know offhand, but ultimately some sort of formerly living creature, i.e., a species. We haven't yet begun to synthesize our foods from petroleum, at least not directly."Pollan's narrative strategy is simple: he traces four meals back to their ur-species. He starts with a McDonald's lunch, which he and his family gobble up in their car. Surprise: the origin of this meal is a cornfield in Iowa. Corn feeds the steer that turns into the burgers, becomes the oil that cooks the fries and the syrup that sweetens the shakes and the sodas, and makes up 13 of the 38 ingredients (yikes) in the Chicken McNuggets.Indeed, one of the many eye-openers in the book is the prevalence of corn in the American diet; of the 45,000 items in a supermarket, more than a quarter contain corn. Pollan meditates on the freakishly protean nature of the corn plant and looks at how the food industry has exploited it, to the detriment of everyone from farmers to fat-and-getting-fatter Americans. Besides Stephen King, few other writers have made a corn field seem so sinister.Later, Pollan prepares a dinner with items from Whole Foods, investigating the flaws in the world of "big organic"; cooks a meal with ingredients from a small, utopian Virginia farm; and assembles a feast from things he's foraged and hunted.This may sound earnest, but Pollan isn't preachy: he's too thoughtful a writer, and too dogged a researcher, to let ideology take over. He's also funny and adventurous. He bounces around on an old International Harvester tractor, gets down on his belly to examine a pasture from a cow's-eye view, shoots a wild pig and otherwise throws himself into the making of his meals. I'm not convinced I'd want to go hunting with Pollan, but I'm sure I'd enjoy having dinner with him. Just as long as we could eat at a table, not in a Toyota. (Apr.)Pamela Kaufman is executive editor at Food & Wine magazine.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

In The Botany of Desire (2001), about how people and plants coevolve, Michael Pollan teased greater issues from speciously small phenomena. The Omnivore's Dilemma exhibits this same gift; a Chicken McNugget, for example, illustrates our consumption of corn and, in turn, agribusiness's oil dependency. In a journey that takes us from an "organic" California chicken farm to Vermont, Pollan asks basic questions about the moral and ecological consequences of our food. Critics agree it's a wake-up call and, written in clear, informative prose, also entertaining. Most found Pollan's quest for his foraged meal the highlight, though the Los Angeles Times faulted Pollan's hypocritical method of "living off the land." Many also voiced a desire for a more concrete vision for the future. But if the book doesn't outline a diet plan, it's nonetheless a loud, convincing call for change.<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 710 KB
  • Print Length: 468 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408812185
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1st edition (April 11, 2006)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SEIDR0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,299 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
437 of 457 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I could go on and on . . (look below) July 31, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I bought this book for my dad he simply said, "A book about food?" I laughed and tried to tell him it is probably more about what is wrong with the country (government, business, foreign policy) than it is about food.

I heard Michael Pollan speak on NPR about this book and that sparked my interest. He was railing against corn as he does in the first section of the book here: For instance, I had no idea we used so much fossil fuel to get corn to grow as much as it does. The book provides plenty of other interesting facts that most people don't know (or want to) about their food.

1) We feed cattle (the cattle we eat) corn. OK. Seems fine. But I never knew cows are not able to digest corn. We give them corn so the corn farmers -who are protected by subsidies and at the same time hurt by them - can get rid of all the excess corn we produce - (more of the excess goes into high fructose corn syrup which is used in coke and many other soft drinks). This sees company owned farms injecting their cattle with antibiotics so they can digest the corn. Not just to shed farmers' excess corn but to also:

a) Get the cow fatter in a shorter amount of time because . .

b) A cow on this diet could really only survive 150 days before the acidity of the corn eats away at the rumen (a special cow digestive organ FOR GRASS, not corn).

c) Also the pharmaceutical companies get big profits because they manufacture large amounts of antibiotics for these large mammals.

All this may lead to increase in fat content and other peculiarities in the meat we eat.

2) The amount of fossil fuel we use to grow food is ridiculous and helps keeps the Saudis happy.
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1,066 of 1,153 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Since I read Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" over five years ago, I have refused to eat any fast food of any kind. Both morally and nutritionally, my position is that if I were to eat that food again, I would be tacitly accepting an industry that is abhorrent on so many levels. Knowing what I now know, that degree of cognitive dissonance is simply too great for me to overcome.

When my son was born two years ago, my thinking about food choices returned and has become an important part of my day-to-day consciousness.

When I first read about "Omnivore" online, I found the premise compelling. What exactly am I eating? Where does it come from? Why should I care? Exactly the kind of book that I'd been looking for, especially as I try to improve my own health and try to give my little guy the best start in life.

I bought the book as soon as it came out and found it to be highly enjoyable, yet almost mind-numbingly disenchanting. We all know about corn and cows and chickens and how the government subsidizes their production (mainly through corn subsidies). But Pollan has given me a completely new view of corn, its processed derivatives, and secondarily, has made me rethink my view of the farmers growing this stuff and the industries who buying it. There is so much wrong with this picture.

Corn, in the wrong hands, can be used for some terrible things, among them high fructose corn syrup (a major player in the obesity epidemic) and as feed for cows (who get sick when they eat it, requiring anti-biotics!). I can't compartmentalize anymore, just because meat tastes good. As Pollan clearly outlines, there is a very selfish reason why the beef industry doesn't want us to see inside a slaughter house.
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1,934 of 2,121 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Trouble with Agriculture.... June 18, 2006
Format:Hardcover
I didn't expect to learn much from Michael Pollan's new book, _The Omnivore's Dilemma_ - since I write and talk regularly about the problems of industrial agriculture, local food production and sustainability, I thought that while I'd probably enjoy his writing (I took a great deal of pleasure in his prior books on gardening), his book would be enlightening to a rather different audience than myself. But, in fact, I did learn a great deal. Pollan's gift is to entertainingly present complexities, without being weighed down by his own excellent scholarship - it is a gift, to know that much about something and to know which bits of evidence will compell and which will merely bore. He's an enormously erudite guy, without being even slightly dull. Several people I know who are far less engaged by food issues than I say they found it compelling and readable.

I will add up front, that one of the two things that most irritated me about this book was that in the mid-1980s, Margaret Visser, a brilliant food writer, wrote a very similar book, _Much Depends on Dinner_. Neither the book nor the author were particularly obscure - the book won several awards, and Visser went on to write another one about table manners (great book, btw, and highly recommended), and the books were published by Pollan's own publisher. And yet, Pollan's book does not cite or acknowledge the book, even though many of the chapters (those on chicken and corn especially) were very similar in their approach and analysis. Someone, either Pollan in his research (which, I think, was otherwise good), or his editor missed something - because the concept of eating a meal and being outraged by the history of its context is not his.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars My sister thought it was...meh
Meh, passable
Published 1 day ago by rowlfthedog
4.0 out of 5 stars Any person who buys groceries for their family and can make better...
I wish I had read this book sooner. Any person who buys groceries for their family and can make better food choices, should read this and think about the options available at every... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Sue Shaffer
3.0 out of 5 stars The narrator was very good.
I could never have read this book. The book was very informative. The narrator was very good.
Published 15 days ago by lorna pring
5.0 out of 5 stars Journy of food production.
Great job of taking the reader through the journey of making a meal in America. Pollan actually lives the part and takes the reader trough his journey of how our food is prepared. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Tony D
5.0 out of 5 stars I found this book to be thoroughly engrossing and informative ...
I found this book to be thoroughly engrossing and informative. Reading it has made me reevaluate what I eat and what sort of food providers I want my money to support. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Blondie From Pa.
5.0 out of 5 stars on time, earlier than I thought.
on time,earlier than I thought.
Published 16 days ago by Jimmy Kim
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read that makes you think!
I very much enjoyed reading this book - both the pacing, structure and content makes for a entertaining read, that also forces you to reconsider your relationship to food - I like... Read more
Published 21 days ago by motdiem
4.0 out of 5 stars ... for school and it came really fast and in perfect condition....
I had to get this book for school and it came really fast and in perfect condition. Although it was the most boring of books I have ever read, it served its purpose.
Published 22 days ago by Dallas
2.0 out of 5 stars the item I received was nothing like it.
Book was advertised and sold as new, the item I received was nothing like it.
Published 22 days ago by Giancarlo Dell'Orco
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for high school science classes
Pollan's treatment of this topic is objective and thorough. If we want to change the trend towards obesity in the US, we could start by having our children read this book in high... Read more
Published 23 days ago by R.W.
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More About the Author

Michael Pollan is the author of five books: Second Nature, A Place of My Own, The Botany of Desire, which received the Borders Original Voices Award for the best nonfiction work of 2001 and was recognized as a best book of the year by the American Booksellers Association and Amazon, and the national bestsellers, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and In Defense of Food. A longtime contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, Pollan is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. His writing on food and agriculture has won numerous awards, including the Reuters/World Conservation Union Global Award in Environmental Journalism, the James Beard Award, and the Genesis Award from the American Humane Association.

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