- Food and Cooking
What's for dinner? The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
In Omnivore's Dilemma, author Michael Pollan asks "What's for dinner?"
The answer may surprise you. It surely did me.
In Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan serves up four meals to family and friends, the first--fast food on the go, racing down the highway in a convertible, top down. The last meal--wild boar he shoots and dresses himself.
Between those two meals, Pollan gets up close and personal with all the ingredients in each of his four dinners, including his meat, on the hoof and off. Where does it come from? What's hidden in the foods he's serving to the people he loves most?
Omnivore's Dilemma reads like a novel, and like any good novel raised the hairs on the back of my neck, warmed the cockles of my heart and kept me thinking and talking about it for months.
If you care about your health and the health of your family, if you care about the future of human kind on the planet, you must read Omnivore's Dilemma. This page zeroes in on Pollan's key points and encourages you to discuss your views.
Your opinions count. Join the fray!
An animal that eats both plants and other animals— Webster's Online Dictionary
What is the omnivore's dilemma, anyway?
Unlike the koala, who eats eucalyptus leaves and not much else, omnivores eat just about anything that won't kill us.
So our dilemma--we humans--has always been to remember what killed Joe and never eat that again, and what healed Emma, so we can use that again.
In an age where massive food recalls and death by food (spinach, peanut butter, and cantaloupe leap to mind) are increasingly commonplace, Pollan says:
One way to think about America's national eating disorder is as the return, with an almost atavistic vengeance, of the omnivore's dilemma.
The cornucopia of the American supermarket has thrown us back on a bewildering food landscape where we once again have to worry that some of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. (Perhaps not as quickly as a poisonous mushroom, but just as surely.)
We once again have to worry that some of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us
Meal One: Where does our food come from?
Pollan's quest begins with a convertible, a burger and Calf #534
It's Meal One, fast food in the fast lane, and Pollan's search for answers takes him from his home in Marin, California, to a cattle ranch in South Dakota where he buys calf #534. Trailing his very own meal-on-the-hoof, Pollan lands hock deep in Kansas feedlot muck next to his bulging, corn-fed steer just before it hits the slaughterhouse.
Once he saw where the most important ingredient came from, it's amazing Pollan was able to go home and buy that fast-food burger, fries and soda for his family, let alone roar joyfully down the freeway, wind whistling in his ears, but he did.
Meal two: Industrial organic for sale
Or, just how free is that chicken in the no-window cage?
For his second meal, which Pollan calls industrial organic, he visited a block-long chicken house and learned how cage-free chickens get the name. Hint: They're still in cages and not all that free. He dished that one up too, with lots of graphic information on the side.
Meal three: Home on the range
Just might be all it's cracked up to be
Farmer Joel Salatin doesn't ship his beef cross country, so Pollan couldn't serve his family the grass-fed beef he earned sloshing hogs and herding chickens and cows for a week on a Virginia grass farm. Luckily, Pollan had friends in the neighborhood who were more than happy to share a cooked-from-scratch, hand-raised, all-organic meal, as fresh off the farm as you can get it. Word was, it was delicious.
Meal four: Wild boar on the hoof, mushrooms in the rain
Yes, Virginia, it can be done, even in the richest county in the state
Back home in California, with equal gusto Pollan first stalked a wild boar in Marin County, then hunted down wild mushrooms on a rainy day in the Sierras. He served them up to his home crew with salad fixings and berries he'd foraged along the way, some in the countryside, and surprisingly, some in the city.
But that's just the meals. What Pollan learned about the growing, manufacturing and processing of our meat and potatoes along the way is the real story.
Get the rest of the story here
Would you be surprised to learn that corn and soybeans are in just about everything we eat these days? If it comes in a box, most likely it has corn or soybean derivatives in it. And if it has those, most likely, the corn and soybeans come from genetically modified seeds (GMO). No one but the company that manufactures them and its scientists know what's in those GMO seeds, not even the federal government that regulates agriculture and is supposed to assure our food is safe.
What's more, if it's meat or contains meat, very likely it's been fed that very same GMO corn and soybeans, along with an antibiotic cocktail that would knock the socks off an elephant.
In his search to learn what's in our food, Pollan takes us on a ride that feels like a roller coaster going down more than it goes up. Omnivore's Dilemma changed the way I eat. It just might change the way you eat too, and I can't help thinking that is a good thing.
What we eat is far more important politically and economically than many of us realize. If you care about the health of the planet, the health of your family, and your own health, read this book. Understand just how personal the political is, and why what you put on the dinner table is a political statement, sometimes a radical one, and a vote for or against your family's well-being and just possibly our survival as a species.
Have you read, or would you, Omnivore's Dilemma? - What do you think of Pollan's ideas about the food we eat?
How important is it for everyday people like you and me to know where our food comes from and what's in it? Do you buy into the notion, as we've seen from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, Pollan and others, that our food choices may be killing us? What do you eat? And how much attention do you pay to what's in it?
What's for dinner at your house?
Organic, locally-grown, non-GMO food all the way, or nearly so!
Rate Omnivore's Dilemma - Would you read it? Recommend it?
How do you feel about Omnivore's Dilemma?
On a scale of 1-8, what do you think of Omnivore's Dilemma, knowing what you now know?
If you liked Omnivore's Dilemma, you may like this one too
We can escape the Western diet and its consequences. - Michael Pollan
Why would we want to? Aren't we the best fed people in the world? The fact is, science has shown again and again that our Western diet is killing us. Pollan, in his usual lively style, explains why, dropping one fact after another into our brains without skipping a beat and so deftly, we can't wait to learn why it's important and what's next.
I hope you enjoyed this page and participated in the debate. If you meant to but forgot, here's another chance.
© 2008 Kathryn Grace