Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

This book has been on every “Best of 2006” list I’ve seen, and it’s worth all the hype it’s getting. It’s fantastic. The book is about 4 meals and the food chains that supply those meals. The 4 meals are from McDonalds, from Whole Foods, from a local, “sustainable organic” farm, and a meal that the author hunted & gathered himself. Parts of this book are astounding – like the extent to which corn and petrochemicals create the foundation for most of the US’s food supply, (Yup – you read that right) incentivized, of course, by inane government policies lobbied for by big agribusiness, the petrochemical industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the soft drink industry, and others. (You read that right, too.) And in today’s news, the FDA gave preliminary approval for meat and milk from cloned animals – and is ‘unlikely’ to require labelling of these foods (I kid you not. See FDA OK's food from cloned animals.)
The book also offers interesting insights into the complexities of sustainable farming and the interactions between various aspects of the farm (and the natural world in general). There’s a fascinating section about mushrooms – about which we know surprisingly little.
This book is very well-written and engaging. I guarantee you’ll think about food differently after reading it. (And you’ll find me at the local farmer’s market when I do my shopping on saturday morning :-)


JCR said...

Vary nice blog! Insightful and well-written!

Nonanon said...

You know, I've tried and tried to like Michael Pollan, but I just can't do it. I had this book but didn't get through it, although I must admit I don't really have any strong reasons for not liking it or him. I think I'm actually turned off by the length of his books, which is so, so sad. I read a book last year called "Brain Trust: The Hidden Connection between Mad Cow and Misdiagnosed Alzheimer's Disease," by Colm Kelleher, which has become the standard by which I judge all other "food worries" books. It's scary as hell, short, and punchily written. Michael Pollan didn't really stand a chance after that one.

Donna said...

Thanks, I've added Brain Trust to my list of books to buy/read.

zandria said...

I agree -- I just finished reading that book myself, and added it to the list I just published of all the books I read in 2006: all 110 of them! This is more than double what I read in 2005, due to various factors (explained in more detail in the post). They're broken down into categories, and I denoted the ones that I liked the best. :)