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The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Search for a Perfect Meal in a Fast-food World Paperback – 21 May 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (21 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747586837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747586838
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 409,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For the past twenty years, Michael Pollan has been writing about the places where the human and natural worlds intersect: food, agriculture, gardens, drugs, and architecture. His book The Omnivore's Dilemma, about the ethics and ecology of eating, was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is also the author of In Defence of Food, The Botany of Desire, A Place of My Own and Second Nature, and the upcoming Food Rules: An Eater's Manual.

Product Description

Review

`A masterly blend of investigative journalism and amusing personal
narrative ... a sharp insight into current predicaments surrounding supper' -- Aimee Shalan, Guardian

`Compelling ... What stands out is Pollan's love of food and its
natural production' -- Naomi Booth, Daily Telegraph

`Mesmerising ... Pollan brilliantly shows how economics have
turned evolution on its head' -- Financial Times Magazine

`Pollan's book is convivial, creative and deeply disturbing,
though he does offer hope ... it has certainly changed the way I think
about food' -- Audrey Niffenegger, Guardian

`This articulate and engrossing book is as beautifully written as
it is insightful' -- Sunday Times

Book Description

The startling truth behind the food we consume in the twenty-first century --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on 24 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the most basic culinary detective book. In modern America, Michael Pollan wonders what to eat: "... imagine for a moment if we once again knew, strictly as a matter of course, these few unremarkable things: What it is we're eating. Where it came from. How it found it's way to our table. And what, in a true accounting, it really cost."

Of course most North Americans can't answer these questions in any self-satisfying way, so Pollan sets off on the case. He journeys through the belly of the food industry beast -- to the massive government-subsidized corn plantations of Iowa, the huge cattle feed lots and the slaughterhouses. He visits the plants where trainload after trainload of corn is refined into the chemical components of processed food, and then he takes his family to McDonalds.

Searching for alternatives to totally explore, Pollan visits large-scale organic plantations. He works for a spell on an organic family farm in Virginia, helping to slaughter the chickens for his next gourmet meal. And last he goes whole hog back to the hunter-gatherer days, searching for mushrooms and shooting a wild pig in the forests of Northern California.

The whole experience yields tons of great stories, and the kind of good common sense I can't resist quoting:

"A tension has always existed between the capitalist imperative to maximise efficiency at any cost and the moral imperatives of culture, which have historically served as a counterweight to the moral blindness of the market. This is another example of the cultural contradictions of capitalism -- the tendency over time for the economic impulse to erode the moral underpinnings of society." (p.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. A. ter Hart on 28 May 2009
Format: Paperback
The Omnivore's Dilemma borrows its title from a 1970s study that observed that prehistoric man, being an omnivore, could eat pretty much everything it found in nature, but that at the same time, many plants and fungi were actually toxic. So how did man know what to eat and what not? The modern omnivore faces a different dilemma: a decent sized supermarket has more food than you can imagine, but where does it come from? What is actually in a microwave dinner? How was the cow treated that gave you your steak?

In answering these questions, Pollan dives deep into the inner workings of industrialised farming, and what he finds there, makes for some grim reading. In addition, Pollan shows that organic farming too, is often more of a marketing trick than, well, organic farming.

But The Omnivore's Dilemma is more than an attack on the agro-industrial complex. Pollan teaches us about true organic farming, discusses the ethics of eating meat and explains the surprising appeal of hunting.

Most people will be drawn to this book because of what it says about industrial farming. Pollan, like other authors, spends a great deal of time telling us what's wrong about it, and he can't resist the temptation to blame a lot of it on capitalism. You know, the line about how people really don't want to buy microwave dinners, or vegetables from Argentina, but are forced to buy them by big multinationals. What Pollan does not do, however, is come up with an alternative to industrialised farming. Earth currently has over 6 bn people and they have to be fed somehow. How to do that in a sustainable way, is the next omnivore's dilemma. Perhaps one Pollan can tackle in his next book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By PZE on 4 May 2008
Format: Paperback
An elegantly and thoughtfully written book on the modern food industry that feeds us. Pollan demonstrates a refreshing openness, sharing how his journey through mass produced, organic, and hunter-gatherer food systems affects him without ever sinking into sentimentality - even when shooting a wild pig his insight into what it means to be a hunter is superb.

Without doubt one of the best books on food that I have ever read and one that will withstand the test of time, if for no other reason than the issues he covers of where our food comes from, how it is produced and what that might mean are as relevant today as they ever have been.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By PoppySeed on 28 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Omnivore's Dilemma addresses the question: if you have the opportunity to eat anything, how do you know which things are best to eat? It delves into the food chains behind various meals, from the industrial to the pastoral.

The skills of Michael Pollan, the Knight Professor of Journalism at U.C. Berkeley, shine through in this book. It is remarkably clearly written, and addresses a broad range of perspectives and potential criticisms. It avoid preaching, which would be so easy to do with this subject, and instead presents information as information, and opinion as just that.

If you are remotely interested in what you put in your mouth, and where it comes from, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ivor R. B. Hibbitt on 20 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Omnivore's Dilemma

By Michael Pollan

A Review by the Cote d'azur

Men's Book Group

In a world where hunger is a black mark on the ruddy face of the well fed it is almost indecent to note that while millions are starving further millions are fighting obesity to the extent that dieting has become an obsession .

Do we feel ashamed as we watch TV films of flesh and bone victims of tribal warfare in Africa, people fighting for every grain of maize while their oppressors threaten to end their misery by killing them? We in the West fill our supermarket trolleys and eat well while our fellow human beings scratch the scorched earth with their fingers

Is there not a paradox in that while we feel genuine sorrow for these victims our eyes are fixated on our desire for a full belly courtesy of the vast food industry?

It is the mass production food chain system of the United States of America that Michael Pollan, author of this superb book, puts under the microscope and reveals the good and the bad points of an industry that is as streamlined as any car industry with its cow to calf philosophy.

This farming industry aims for the maximum gain from processing the herds; Life begins in the birthing sheds and usually ends some l8 months later with a market weight steer entering the kill \zone where it is stunned and prepared for market. The steer has spent all its life on a "foodlot" a giant farm production area where everything it needs to grow big and strong is provided.
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