The Omnivore’s Dilemma

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

I loved this book. Michael Pollan turns his journalistic lens on American eating of all stripes. A little bit like Fast Food Nation without the polemic, or a little like Eating Animals without the snobbery, Pollan considers four types of meals, and traces these meals back to their production. First, he looks at what he calls “industrial” food, that is, food produced by the American agriculture industry. This includes most of what is available in supermarkets, and is symbolized by a McDonald’s meal. He also looks at the industrial-organic meal (think Whole Foods), symbolized by an organic microwave entree. He then looks at “beyond organic,” a philosophy of food production based on transparency and individualism. Finally, he looks at a total do-it-yourself meal,  in which he hunts and forages for everything on the menu.

Pollan considers the various ethical dilemmas involved in any kind of eating. I appreciated that he teased out the different complexities that influence the political food choices eaters make. He didn’t advocate any particular stance, but instead approached each position with respect and open-mindedness. As a result, I found myself more willing to be persuaded. It seemed more like we were considering this issue together. Some writers (*koff koff* Jonathan Safran Foer *koff koff*) like to hit you over the head if you haven’t come to the same conclusions about food they have. They like to bludgeon the reader with their certainty, purity, and superiority. Pollan, on the other hand, seems to acknowledge that eating is no simple matter, and though he strongly suggests we DO SOMETHING, what exactly the reader does is genuinely up to his or her conscience.

This is an eye-opening read. Check it out (if you haven’t already), and then tell me what you think.


3 thoughts on “The Omnivore’s Dilemma

  1. I really enjoyed Omnivore’s Dilemma. Barbara Kingsolver takes a much different, but (I think) equally inviting approach in Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. Have you read that?

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