>> Sep 30, 2012
The Omnivores Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael pollen, took me a record two years to complete. It's not that it wasn't a good book (in fact it was rated one of the 10 best books of the year by the New York Times book review) or that I didn't enjoy reading it, but it contains such heavy content that I was rarely in the mood to pick it up when I climbed into bed at night.
The omnivores dilemma is a must read for foodies, chefs, dietitians, health professionals, and health enthusiasts. Actually, I think every person should read at least portions of this book to better understand their food, and more importantly, our food system. Too many people, most of us in fact, are too disconnected from where our food comes from. Few people will ever go to the lengths that Michael pollen does in this book to understand where their food comes from, and the impact that our food system has on each other and the planet. I read this book plan to review it on this blog, and began to fold down the corners of the pages that provided interesting thoughts and new ways of thinking to comment on later. As I look at the book beside me now, it's as though an entire corner of the first half is missing. To try to list all of the note worthy points in this book would be futile. The phrase "you don't know what you don't know" comes to mind.
Carnivores can relax, and vegetarians be warned, this book is not an attack on meat eaters, nor is it advocating for vegetarianism, although certainly some people may find themselves with an aversion to meat after reading this book, at least temporarily. As Pollan himself explains:
Many people today seem perfectly content eating at the end of an industrial food chain, without a thought in the world; this book is probably not for them. There are things in it that will ruin their appetites. But in the end this is a book about the pleasures of eating, the kinds of pleasure that are only deepened by knowing.
In his efforts to explore our food system, Pollan takes part in conventional and organic farming, hunting, and foraging. With a better understanding of our food system, it now seems odd to me that we attach the same generic descriptor - food - to the results of such different production methods. Certainly, production and processing methods should factor into what we consider healthful food. Yet it does not.
Pollan does a good job of arguing all sides of the story, from vegan to hunter, farmer to shopper, while sharing his personal emotions and thoughts throughout his journey. This book helps make the act of eating, a more mindful one. And perhaps, if you use the information in this book, a more enjoyable one.
Although this book contains valuable information and insights, unfortunately, much of it was too dry even for the biggest of foodies like myself. I managed to get through it, but I wouldn't blame anyone if they skipped portions of the book. Yet I would still encourage anyone to pick up this book and work their way through it. You will be the wiser shopper and eater for it.