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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals Hardcover – April 11, 2006
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From Bookmarks Magazine
- Publisher : Penguin Press; First edition (April 11, 2006)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1594200823
- ISBN-13 : 978-1594200823
- Lexile measure : 930L
- Item Weight : 1.6 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.38 x 1.41 x 9.58 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #73,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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This is a very interesting book - well thought out and investigated. I am not certain that I want to consume meat again as Pollan tells the reader how these feeder lot cows, pigs and chickens actually live and die. Really, not my idea of humane. Just as interesting is his investigation of corn. It is amazing how corn is in absolutely everything from high-fructose corn syrup to fish food; gasoline to paint; fish to .... well, you get the idea. While more and more acreage is devoted to mono-crops, chiefly corn, we are the "benefactors" of everything that is corn related. Feed lot cattle are fed corn to fatten them up even though it makes them terribly sick and reduces the number of valuable nutrients available to grass fed cows. Multiply that by lamb, chicken, goat, salmon, tilapia, shrimp and you get an idea of why you are eating corn at every meal whether you know it or not. Compound this with the fact that 3 companies control the corn product from seed to pesticide to fertilizer and this monoculture is there to get you in one way or another. Corn that can be sprayed with pesticides that kill everything except the corn - bugs, weeds..... Makes you wonder what you are eating. Anyhow, Pollan has done a wonderful job investigating the food chain and its effect on the environment be it our internal flora or life on earth.
In the name of thrift and convenience, they have perhaps irrevocably damaged our relationship to food and our relationship to farm animals who are--there's no other word for it--tortured in the name of our needs. Worse still, so few of our needs are met: farmer's are losing money, American consumers are gaining astronomical amounts of weight and destroying their health in the process, while big agri, pharma and the food industry get richer and richer at everyone's else's expense.
The first two sections of The Omnivore's Dilemma--explications of the symbiosis between corn and cattle should be required reading and taught in every elementary and high school in the country. If they were, perhaps something would be done, but don't count on it. The depressing truth is the folks that created the problem are more deeply entrenched than ever. Chapters on Organic Farms and food were worthwhile; the chapter on hunting/gathering--meh. Not so much. Or at least not for me.
Do though commit to reading the first 200 pages. They are eye-opening and motivating. And when you're finished, pass your copy to somebody you love.
Aside from the minor criticisms I outline above, I found the book excellent and thought provoking. I have even changed some of my shopping and eating habits as a result.
Top reviews from other countries
Why do you eat what you do? How was it produced? If you can answer with more than the aisle of the supermarket you bought it from, well done. If you can’t, does that worry you? Is all food created equal and of equal health benefit? Is beef from a grass-lot the same as feed-lot, or vegetables grown industrially the same as organic? Do you know the answer to that? If not, does that worry you?
Michael Pollan argues it should worry us. Three principle chains of food sustain us, all of them linking one biological system, ourselves, with another, a patch of soil. Most of us, however, remain woefully ignorant of any sort of understanding of our food systems. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan explores each of the three methods of food creation, industrial, organic, and hunter/gatherer, and examines the costs and benefits of each.
There are of course two sides to every story, and Pollan is careful to examine the benefits from cheaper food in terms of health and living standards. He’s right, and the animal rights movement sometimes unfairly ignores these benefits. The reality though is that most of us aren’t in a position to decide either way; we remain willfully blind to the reality, ignorant of what we eat and where it comes from. Perhaps the tradeoff is worth it, but we should at least be aware of the processes our food goes through, whether that means glass walls on slaughterhouses or increased education about industrial production. In the end, what you eat is a personal choice, but it’s one that should be made out of information, not ignorance.