"The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan

by lotech@evpl on Thursday, August 7 2008, 1:54pm. Viewed 1,201 times.

"The Omnivore's Dilemma" coverThis is a fascinating discussion of our relationship to the food we eat.  Mr. Pollan first discusses the familiar Industrial Agricultural system, a topic that's been covered by many other books in one way or another, but Pollan provides a good overview to the problems this system presents us.  I didn't care for what I felt a too extensive discussion of his coy conceit that corn has selected us to guarantee its existence, but that's a minor flaw in an otherwise overwhelmingly impressively persuasive book. Much has been written about the mass production of animals and plants for food, but Pollan may be more accessible to readers disliking shock prose and photos; no photos in this book, just very effective writing, reasoned, but passionate.   Pollan interestingly writes of "Big Organic" and notes the limitations of mass produced "organic" foods.  He's at his best however when he discusses the emotional issues of vegetarianism and the killing of animals for food both by raising/killing animals for food and by hunting.

The omnivores' dilemma turns out to be based on our emotional awareness of our intricate relationship and dependence on the "non-human" world. Mr. Pollan has lived and written a thoughful exploration of this relationship.  As his final effort, he attempts to cook a meal based only on plants harvested from a garden and animals he has himself hunted/killed for this meal.  His final pages powerfully mediatate on what our attitudes should be toward the food we often take for granted.

Earlier this summer this was a selection for two local book discusssion groups; Im sure those discussions were lively.  This book was published in 2006.

Comments (5)

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on Thursday, August 7 2008, 5:25pm

This is one of my husband's favorite all-time books.  It has changed many people's diets.

kiya@evpl wrote
on Friday, August 8 2008, 4:49pm

I listened to it earlier this year at the suggestion of a friend from church, and was so intrigued I've been planning a series of programs at Red Bank on new ways of thinking about food. The series starts next month, so watch for it on the Library Events page.

on Tuesday, August 19 2008, 3:17pm

I listened to his "In Defense of Food" last year, and then recommended it to my husband. A lot of worthwhile information to absorb there.

I also read Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", which has a somewhat narrower perspective in that it deals with eating/growing locally. This and Pollan's books are eye-opening reads.

Bufkinite@evpl wrote
on Saturday, August 30 2008, 12:23pm

A friend of mine recommended this book to me back in late 2006 in Olympia, Washington.  This friend had worked as a chef for many years, and was impressed by Pollan's perspective - that he wasn't so much advocating for being vegetarian or omnivore as he was advocating for a sane and sustainable, nurturing food production & distribution system.

I think that it's at this point where the ideas in his book and in Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" converge.

on Thursday, September 4 2008, 12:21pm

I feared this would be dry reading, but found it to be quite absorbing, readable, and thought-provoking. I especially liked that the author touched on a number of  different aspects of current food production.  I believe anyone with even a mild interest in the subject would enjoy this book.