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A Book Review of the Omnivore’s Dilemma

The Omnivore’s Dilemma
By Michael Pollan

This is a fun book, not only is the subject matter intriguing and compelling, but the writing style is beautiful and flows easily. This is a book every American should read. This is a book that may explain our national eating disorder and possibly our Republic of Fat. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is divided into three distinct parts describing the three main aspects of our human food chain. And each section ends with in a meal (actually four meals). The book is intuitively and surprisingly informative and well researched.

The first part of The Omnivore’s Dilemma consist of the spectacular success of our capitalistic enterprising outrageously successful food chain that begins with corn and is infused totally with corn with what Michael Pollan describes as the industrial food chain. The second part of the book describes organics, although he distinguishes between two different aspects of what we call the organic food market. With the rise of the popular movement in organics, Pollan notes what he refers to as an industrial organic system to supply the retail grocery phenomenon like Whole Foods with its economies of scale and its mass marketing global influence. This is almost diametrically opposed to what he describes as a more sustainable and local organic that is consumed at the local level with a stronger emphasis on the small organic farm concept such as CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) whereas a community subscribes to a local farm and shares in its probable success or its possible failure. The third part of the book describes the interesting yet totally impractical idea of hunting and gathering one’s total food alone or in cooperation of a limited group of people which he refers to as foraging. Each of the four concept food chain systems culminates in a meal that is representative of the particular concept of each food chain type. The first meal is from the industrial food chain of a fast food meal eaten while in a moving car. The second and third meals using the two types of organic foods that Pollan discusses. And finally, what the author describes as the perfect meal created from foodstuffs that he hunted and gathered and cooked himself. This is about food, a subject matter that Michael Pollan describes painstakingly and beautiful in its prose that both resembles an epic poem and a cook book and a news report.

Michael Pollan is a journalist by trade and I have read an earlier book titled Second Nature. Second Nature is a book I read and completely enjoyed back when we first bought our home in Nashville and his writing and ideas have definitely influenced the overall design of our family homes landscape. He has another book I will be interested in reading in the future titled In Defense of Food. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is an excellent read of just over four hundred pages and the reader comes away with a wow factor and a sense of the innate beauty and community that food entails. I especially enjoyed the fantasy (in my life anyway) of the perfect meal and having a dinner party consisting of foods totally hunted and gathered by the host and the guests.