Book Review: The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Have you ever stopped to think where the food on your plate comes from?  Go past the supermarket or grocery store or even the processing or packaging plant – where did that stuff you’re putting into your mouth come from?  Even better question – what is that stuff you’re putting into your mouth, and where did it come from?

Until rather recently, I had hardly ever entertained such questions about the food I was eating, and as far as I can tell the majority of people I know haven’t either.  That is why The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a MUST-READ, whether you’re an innocent yet ignorant eater as I was, or a more conscientious chomper already.  Whatever you think you know about food here in the United States, this book will take you farther (perhaps farther than you even wanted to go).

I haven’t read any of Michael Pollan’s other books (yet), but in this text he does an excellent job taking his reader through three various types of meals (four, technically):  the typical fast-food bite (traced all the way back to mass-produced corn, which makes up the vast majority of all processed food), both the industrial and local renditions of organic dining (whose differences are very important to note!), and finally (extremely?), the meal of the typically ancestral hunter/gatherer.  This simple organizational set-up makes Pollan’s narrative easy to follow, as well as memorable.  His blend of hard facts and personal experience make for a forthright and engaging read (I read the entire 451-page book in three days, tops).  I learned, I laughed, I longed for more (the rest of Pollan’s books for Christmas please!).

Perhaps the best part of this book (especially when compared to other texts on the subject of American food and diet), is its lack of condescension or judgment.  As the daughter of an industrial corn and soybean farmer, I find Pollan’s treatment of that player in our country’s food production both fair and considerate.  He drives home what is to me is highly significant in any dialogue on America’s diet:  there is no one, ultimate evil-doer to blame in our current food situation (which is undeniably dismal, with its lead to rising human health issues, animal suffering, and environmental damages being only a few negative outcomes), but neither is there a single savior on the horizon (as demonstrated in the history of the “organic” movement becoming slowly industrialized itself).  Instead, Pollan seems to advocate for a middle ground.  He envisions a future perception of food that allows for industry to have its place, but not the dominating place, in our culture, and for individuals to seek more responsible and mindful eating patterns, such as through obtaining food both locally and seasonally.

The main thing?  Think about YOUR food you are putting into YOUR body.  Know where it comes from, how it got to your plate, and let your choices advocate for the type of food and food processing you support.  If you’re not sure of any of those things, then read this book!

YoginiJackPaperBackRating:  5/5 stars


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