The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

by Michael Pollan | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 9780143038580 Global Overview for this book
Registered by VividReader of Portland, Oregon USA on 2/18/2008
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12 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by VividReader from Portland, Oregon USA on Monday, February 18, 2008
From the back cover: "Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder. Will it be fast food tonight, or something organic? Or perhaps something we grew ourselves? The question of what to have for dinner has confronted us since man discovered fire. But as Michael Pollan explain in this revolutionary book, how we answer it now, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, may determine our survival as a species. Packed with profound surprises, The Omnivore's Dilemma is changing the way Americans think about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating."

It's sometimes a bit too slow for my taste, but I loved this book. It's a fantastic follow-up to Fast Food Nation. Same idea, but more in depth. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Journal Entry 2 by VividReader from Portland, Oregon USA on Thursday, February 21, 2008
This book is going off on its bookring journey!

Rules:
1. Journal the book when you receive it and when you send it to the next person.
2. Check the journal entry for shipping order, as it is likely to change if people are added. Contact the next person on the list when you receive the book, to see if they want to be skipped.
3. Please don't keep the book for longer than one month; pass it on or ask to be skipped. If you think you might take longer, contact me and let me know!
4. Enjoy the book. :)

Shipping order:
1. Bluestocking88 (USA-WA) - US only
2. travelpro (USA-CA) - US only
***LadyBookWyrm (USA-TX) - asked to be skipped***
4. azuki (USA-FL) - US only
5. sejent (USA-KY) - US only
6. cinnycat (USA-NY) - US only
***7. skcreader (USA-VA) - asked to be skipped***
7. (replacing skcreader) Supertalya (South Korea w/US address) - int'l
8. Vamperstein8782 (UK)
9. okyrhoe (Greece) - int'l
***VeganMedusa (New Zealand)*** asked to be skipped
11. jubby (Australia) - int'l
12. juli2007 (Australia) - Australia preferred, int'l OK
13. ihatetoast (Australia) - int'l <--- book is here!
14. back to VividReader (USA)

Journal Entry 3 by VividReader from Portland, Oregon USA on Friday, February 29, 2008
Sent to Bluestocking88 today!

Journal Entry 4 by Bluestocking88 from -- Wild released somewhere in the state, Washington USA on Wednesday, March 05, 2008
This arrived today--thank you and I am eager to get it started.

Journal Entry 5 by Bluestocking88 from -- Wild released somewhere in the state, Washington USA on Saturday, April 05, 2008
I am still reading this but wanted to give an update so you knew all was well. I am fascinated by this book and am working my way through it a little slower than I'd like, but I'm getting there. I have company and the kids are home for spring break, but I hope to get it moving very soon.

Journal Entry 6 by Bluestocking88 from -- Wild released somewhere in the state, Washington USA on Thursday, May 08, 2008
This book really disturbed me. I have had a hard time reading it only because it forces me to consider my part in the great land of King Corn. Reading it simultaneously with Affluenza made me want to go back to the days of Little House on the Prarie where the kids had one doll and everyone knew exactly what they were eating at every meal.

I find myself much more aware of food now, and I was always a label reader, but now my family is a little scared at my anti-HFCS stance. It is still hard for me to like eating lower on the food chain, but it gives me something to work on.

I am going to think about this book for a while, and eventually I hope to reread it as I am sure I missed parts as I was reeling from the horrors of the feedlots and king corn. Thank you so much for letting me read this and being so patient with me. Usually I am a very fast reader, but this book was one that required some thought. I am mailing it out to travelpro in tomorrow's mail. Thanks again!

Journal Entry 7 by travelpro from Foster City, California USA on Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Got it in the mail today! Starting on it right now.

Journal Entry 8 by travelpro from Foster City, California USA on Sunday, June 08, 2008
I appreciated this book so much that I bought my own copy. Michael Pollan effortlessly engages the reader in a thoughtful and informative conversation about food production in the US. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about what they eat.

Sending this book to azuki tomorrow.

Journal Entry 9 by wingAzukiwing from Miami, Florida USA on Friday, June 20, 2008
Book is here. I read a few pages and find it very interesting already. I am half way through my other book and once that's done will dig in full force.

Journal Entry 10 by wingAzukiwing from Miami, Florida USA on Sunday, July 06, 2008
Thanks VividReader for starting the ring and everybody for passing along this great book. I have been quoting passages (mostly scary stats and some amusing lines) to my husband in a not-so-subtle way to sway him from meat eating. While I have read from other sources about the horrors of feedlot, the later parts about industrial organics and hunting/gathering are eye-openers for me.

And lastly - an apology - my little bird had an omnivore's dilemma moment and decided to try out the book. I dind't even notice that he was munching on it... We just saw him standing very cutely next to the book and even joked about setting up a BC account for him. Sorry he bit off a little bit of the corner...

Now sending off to Sejent.

Journal Entry 11 by sejent from Louisville, Kentucky USA on Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I've just recently read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I'm looking forward to reading this. I have about 1.5 bookring books ahead of this one, so I should be able to get started soon.

Journal Entry 12 by sejent from Louisville, Kentucky USA on Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Eye-opening, to say the least. This book, along with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, has made me think twice about the food I purchase and consume.

Sending to cinnycat in NY.

Journal Entry 13 by BookBirds from -- wild in the usa, -- Wild Released somewhere in USA -- USA on Thursday, September 04, 2008
oo, a wishlist book! I've wanted to read this for a while. I shall get to this soon! thanks for sending, sejent and Vividreader for sharing!

Journal Entry 14 by BookBirds from -- wild in the usa, -- Wild Released somewhere in USA -- USA on Thursday, October 09, 2008
This is not the first really great book on food I've read this year. After reading Omnivore's Dilemma, I can see what inspired Barbara Kingsolver to write Animal Vegetable Miracle (and grow her own food). I would love to be able to grow my own food.
This is very well written. Something every person who cares about what they are eating should read. I especially loved the section about Joel Salatin and his farm. It imagine him feeding a large chunk of the world and when he is gone, the entire food system will collapse. If only there were more farmers like him.
I like that Pollan looks at ALL the sides of food. He doesn't automatically say that organic food is better. I kind of already figured that "organic" food is a marketing tool for industrial food to sell more. In fact, I already knew a lot of what was discussed in Omnivore's Dilemma. I think because other books and newspapers have been referencing this since it was released.... but Pollan just writes about it better.
If only everyone in the world could eat local, sustainable, non-industrial, safe for the environment food (including animals that were allowed to be HAPPY animals) from farmers and growers who can be looked in the eye and see that their methods are transparent and moral. I would give up industrial food in a heartbeat if there was a really great local market (there isn't one here).

"At the other end of the industrial food chain that begins in a cornfield in Iowa sits an industrial eater at a table. ...a successful local food economy implies not only a new kind of food producer, but a new kind of eater as well, one who regards finding, preparing, and preserving food as one of the pleasures of life rather than a chore. One whose sense of taste has ruined him for a Big Mac, and whose sense of place has ruined him for shopping for groceries at Wal-Mart. This is the consumer who understands--or remembers-- that, in Wendell Berry's memorable phrase, 'eating is an agricultural act.' He might have added that it is a political act as well." - page 259

Journal Entry 15 by BookBirds at ***, a fellow bookcrosser -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Released 11 yrs ago (11/4/2008 UTC) at ***, a fellow bookcrosser -- Controlled Releases

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sorry this has taken so long.. enjoy!

Journal Entry 16 by Supertalya on Sunday, December 21, 2008
Yay! I am glad I received this. I will read it soon and get it out to the next reader.

I actually received this as a Christmas Present. I am going to send this one off in the next few days and read mine. :-) Happy Holiday's everyone!

Journal Entry 17 by Supertalya at by mail, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, January 22, 2009

Released 11 yrs ago (1/22/2009 UTC) at by mail, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases

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Finally sent this one off in the mail!

Journal Entry 18 by AMJ-898913 on Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Book arrived safely at the weekend, thanks. Looking forward to getting stuck into this.

Journal Entry 19 by AMJ-898913 on Monday, March 02, 2009
Not sure that "enjoy" is the right word to apply to reading this book given the subject matter, but it was certainly an engaging read.

I knew a great deal of what was discussed in the first part (at least on the animal husbandry side) although I must admit to not being quite so aware of exactly what goes into the food we eat... lets just say I shall never be eating at McDonalds ever again! And while I appreciate that he included the hunter-gatherer's meal to essentially 'cover all the bases' it didn't really resonate or impart any kind of tangible knowledge for me like the previous two parts had, and actually annoyed me in one or two places where Pollan was discussing animals having "rights" - granted I'm in a minority, but I firmly believe that animals have souls, and a comment he made about the difference between mentally disabled people and apes (the people "have mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers") had me incensed (primates generally have strong family bonds) and almost throwing the book down and stopping reading there and then - had it been nearer the start of the book than the end I probably would've quit there and then.

That said, I am glad I read the book cover to cover. The second part where "industrial organic" was discussed was especially interesting to me. As I don't generally eat meat unless it is organic it was surprising to discover that the animals I eat might not actually be any better off than those of the standard foodchain, at least from the point of view of the conditions that they are kept in, which is exactly the reason I choose organic meat in the first place! I wonder how many more people are under the impression that 'organic' animals spend their lives roaming around outdoors or at least in less cramped conditions than their 'factory' counterparts? Definitely turned me on to the "beyond organic" view of it being better to get everything locally (where you can actually see how everything is produced) rather than worrying about whether or not the animal feed is actually "organic".

Not everyone's usual cup of tea perhaps, but a very thought-provoking book that I think everyone should read... you never know, it might make the world a better place!

I have okyrhoe's address and will be getting it off in the mail some time this week. Thanks to VividReader for sharing.

Journal Entry 20 by AMJ-898913 on Friday, March 06, 2009
Sorry for the delay, finally made it to the post office today. Happy reading!

Journal Entry 21 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Arrived in Athens. Thanks VividReader for including me in the ring, and Vamperstein8782 for posting it to me.

I've got 7 ring books to be read at the moment, I hope I can finish them all in time.

Journal Entry 22 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Saturday, May 02, 2009
Sent to jubby in Australia, 30/4/2009.

Comments added 10/5/2009:

Although there are times when Pollan's focus begins to wander (in the forest collecting mushrooms, no less) I find it overall a well-written book, and a good introduction to the subject.
Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation may contain a wealth of facts and figures, but it lacked the personal (and therefore, the moral) touch. Here, in The Omnivore's Dilemma, I feel that Pollan has tried his best to be as honest with himself and with the subject as he can.

I recall reading Diet for a Small Planet when I was 14-16. I was living in Lebanon, and combined with my Greek origins, the truth is that at the time I didn’t quite understand what the anti-meat fuss was all about. The culinary heritage of both nations is grain/legume/vegetable-based, with meat being considered a festive (ie, ritual) exception to the daily regimen. It wasn’t until I moved to the US that I understood what’s wrong with the “Western” food culture, and why books like Diet for a Small Planet were so important.

I wish Pollan would have investigated the concept of 'western' capitalism in agricultural production to a greater degree. Although I personally don't care to make political distinctions, the term is useful in differentiating what's wrong with 'biotechnology' and other scientific so-called advancements, when they are justified in their application to agriculture according to 'capitalist' notions of progress. Pollan does explain how so-called ‘organic’ agriculture in the U.S. is no longer ‘ethical’ or ‘environmentally conscious’. But he doesn’t analyze in-depth how both conventional and organic agriculture in the US is not a matter of cultural tradition, of history.
It's a matter of 'science' and that is a western (capitalist?) concept that has prevailed, unlike other nations where history & tradition have not lost their currency. It's sad to read that farmers like Salatin are considered renegades or pioneers against mass-scale monoculture; they are in my mind simply re-creating, re-learning forgotten wisdoms, that in other parts of the world has survived as 'traditional' knowledge.
If Pollan had ventured beyond the N. American borders I think he would have understood this first-hand. So it's not simply a matter of individuals, and individual farms resisting industrial agriculture, it's also a matter of entire cultures resisting the progression of the biotechnology/chemical machine. There are voices beyond the U.S. who speak louder than the 'quaint' Joel Salatin about this.

It’s regrettable to see how large corporations (Whole Foods) are monopolizing the market share to the detriment of ‘local’ co-ops (having worked in one), thereby enforcing consumer realities which are contrary to the slow-food and carbon-neutral ideals. But again, this ‘trend’ is not a fait-accompli. Alternatives thrive elsewhere, beyond the N. American borders.
The diametrical opposite, the ‘ideal’ Polyface Farm is not a unique notion; I am surprised that Pollan doesn’t make the connection of the methods used by the Salatin family with the biodynamic model of agriculture. In fact, Pollan only mentions the word once, without defining it for the reader. That is a shame, because now that we know ‘organic’ certification has been hijacked by industrial agricultural concerns, it may be that the ‘biodynamic’ certification can provide a viable alternative to better gauge the ethical treatment of animals used in ‘organic’ agriculture.
I have been purchasing biodynamic-certified foods (Demeter) whenever possible, and it seems to me there is a palpable difference in the quality of the flour, eggs, cream, etc. over the merely ‘organic’ products. Could it be that the biodynamic-raised animals are less stressed than their ‘organic’ cousins?

Pollan describes his own personal journey of discovery of the slow-food culture. He could say a lot more, or say it more forcefully, about what this type of consumption entails. It’s not a ‘personal’ choice to switch; the concept of slow food exists as a norm beyond the N. American domain. In my mind, it's a matter of culture, not just a matter of 'capitalist' market forces or the 'military-industrial' complex controlling the production, and then a matter of individuals resisting this by looking for small-scale alternatives elsewhere. He makes it seem as if the choice to resist is a personal one, but in fact the entire society is involved. In Europe, for example, people en masse have spoken loudly and clearly, and have been successful in convincing both their national govermnments and the EU central bureacracy to resist GMO's, BGH, etc.

To be 'American' (vs. being 'Asian', 'African' 'Greek' etc.) is, in my mind, defined by possessing very few culinary skills, no knowledge of that nation's culinary tradition. The contrast between Angelo Farro and Michael Pollan is not merely that one is skilled in foraging, hunting, preserving etc while the other is not. The contrast is that Angelo is Italian, and to be Italian presupposes that this particular national identity includes a mastery of specific knowledge about food and food production that would be a matter of having a 'hobby' or a 'profession' for an American individual. What I'm saying is that being 'American' does not require any complex knowledge about food, there is no cultural/personal history that one acquires as part of that particular national identity.
I grew up tri-cultural, a Greek living in Lebanon and attending an American school. When I came to the U.S., it puzzled me to see that there is no national/cultural concept of 'food' in the way that there is in Lebanon and Greece. To be either of those two nationalities, one must learn specifics of food, in terms of what the food is, how it is made, and how it is consumed.
Furthermore, in both of these cultures, the provenance of each food staple is of primary significance. Olive oil from Tripoli or olive oil from Saida; each Lebanese has their own preference as to which is 'better' or 'more appropriate' for a specific use (cooked or raw). Feta from Mount Parnassos or feta from Mount Taygetos, which is richer in flavor; that's the question even the average Greek consumer ponders at the cheese counter. These are concepts that any person, regardless of economic standing or educational level is bound to have an opinion on; it's not a matter of being a food writer, a chef, a connoisseur or a gourmand.

One final note. Pollan mentions how the cows at Polyface Farm selected different types of grasses according to location, or the season, but he hasn’t, I presume, experienced the effect this kind of grazing has on the milk.
For a while I had access to fresh, organic, non-pasteurized milk produced by a specific single cow. Each week the milk had a different taste; sometimes sweet and creamy, sometimes with a pungent chlorophyll overtone; we could undeniably discern the different grasses consumed by the cow. Being familiar with foraged edible greens, I could identify by the milk's taste when the cows had found patches of either amaranth, sonchus or dandelions. It was an amazing experience, never knowing quite what to expect with that first sip of milk! But my guess is that that most consumers would be 'disgusted' by this daily/seasonal variation, and would rather prefer a ‘steady’ (bland?) flavour to their milk.

Journal Entry 23 by jubby from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Monday, May 18, 2009
Received in the post today - thank you.

I am currently reading two other bookrings, but will aim to get to this one soon...

Journal Entry 24 by jubby at Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Friday, July 10, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (7/10/2009 UTC) at Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases

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Posted to juli2007 - comments to follow.

Journal Entry 25 by juli2007 from Beachmere, Queensland Australia on Sunday, July 12, 2009
Received safely in todays mail, will start reading tonight, thanks for sharing!

Journal Entry 26 by juli2007 from Beachmere, Queensland Australia on Tuesday, July 28, 2009
For some strange reason I can't read the rest of this book, I managed to read all about the corn and found this to be incredibly interesting. Maybe I am sub-consciously thinking that somehow corn is going to take over the world...mwa ha ha ha.... But seriously, this is really an interesting read, I have already pmed ihatetoast and will be popping this into the post tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!

Journal Entry 27 by ihatetoast from Dallas, Texas USA on Thursday, July 30, 2009
Just received. Will read as soon as current book is finished. Ta!

Journal Entry 28 by ihatetoast at Norman Park, Queensland Australia on Friday, June 04, 2010
There is a battle at home. I'm a mess; my husband is a neatnik. This means he puts books away, and I lose track of them. This will be returned to the book ringer soon.

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