Posted on Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 at 6:39 pm under Nonfiction

Title:The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Author:Michael Pollan

Why I liked this book: There is so much fervent and conflicting opinion about food these days – what is one to do? The author tries to take as objective a look as he can at the food system in the U.S. – from farm field to dinner plate (or styrofoam box, as the case may be.) He is not a vegetarian, but considers seriously the case made for that option. He examines the claims for organic farming, and the skeptics and opponents. He looks at the industrial food system that produces most of our food.

What makes his book most interesting is that he goes to see contrasting systems in action – on the ground, as it were. He buys a beef cow and follows it through the process from Wyoming ranch to slaughterhouse. He follows corn from the field to its many derivatives. What fascinates him most is a farm in Virginia practicing a form of integrated farming that produces a variety of foods largely without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides – where the whole operation runs on well-managed grass.

Some critics have noted mistakes, including miscalculation of the relative caloric content of a bushel of corn and a half-gallon of gasoline (which he incorrectly equates), but exact numbers are not his main point. The case he effectively makes is that the highly industrialized system that dominates food production and distribution in the U.S. (and increasingly worldwide) has hidden costs that make it unsustainable and unhealthy. Since we all eat, this is a problem that everyone should all care about, whether one reads this book or not.

In Crumb Library at GT 2850.P65 2006
The Omnivore’s Dilemma

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