The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan

“What should we have for dinner?  This book is a long and fairly involved answer to that seemingly simple question.  Along the way, it also tries to figure out how such a simple question could ever have gotten so complicated.” (pg. 1)  Michael Pollan is a fabulous writer and this is an enjoyable, easy to read book that does a great job and answering this question.  He is able to eloquently write a story that has been told many times before in less eloquent words by many with equal passion but less gifted language.

The book is about three principal food chains that provide most of the food that American’s eat today.  He very cleverly represents each of the food chains with a personal experience that drives the research.  Representing the industrial food chain involves Pollan purchasing a steer, following him from the cornfield that feeds him to the field where he is born and the feedlot and slaughter house where he is prepped for the industrial food chain.  It ends with a family meal at McDonald’s.  Similarly Pollan represents the pastoral, or grass fed and organic movement, and the hunter-gatherer food supply model.

At a time when few of us know the origins of our food, Pollan does an excellent job of enlightening us on the issues of health safety, ethics, economics and environmental sustainability.  Michael Pollan is a Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism.  He was educated at Bennington College, Oxford University, and Columbia University, from which he received a Master’s in English.

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