Overview: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Title:  The Omnivore’s Dilemma – The secrets behind what you eat

Author and illustrator:  Michael Pollan

Publisher:  Dial Books




            The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a very interesting book. Before you read any more of this review I would strongly caution you to make sure you are not eating, going to eat, or just ate anything from McDonald’s. There are going to be some very disturbing things in this review. Even though it was gross, I think it was a very good book. I would recommend it to teens that are not addicted to McDonald’s food. It is divided into four sections called The Industrial Meal:  Food from Corn, The Industrial Organic Meal, The Local Sustainable Meal:  Food from Grass, and The Do-it-Yourself Meal:  Hunted, Gathered, and Gardened Food.

     The Industrial Meal:   This was definitely the grossest part of the entire book. First of all, Michael Pollan likes a cheeseburger as much as any old American. But one day he began wondering “What exactly is going into this meal from McDonald’s?” Soon he found out that corn had taken over America. He bought a cow from a company that raises cows that turn into food for places like McDonald’s. He wanted to follow steer number 534 through its surprisingly short life. He found out that it ate corn instead of grass and that it stayed in one spot for almost its entire life. When Michael Pollan went to visit his steer he found out that he was standing ankle deep in cow manure, not mud.

     Also, if you think cows eating corn is bad; some of the other possible ingredients in industrial cow feed are cattle manure, chicken manure, chocolate, stale pastry, cement dust, candy, hooves,  feathers, meat scraps, fish meal, brewery wastes, cardboard, and pesticides. That artificially-flavored bun is made from corn too. A chicken nugget has corn written all over it. The chicken is fed corn, the breading is mostly corn, and, to top it of, they are fried in corn oil. Why? Because corn is simply cheaper to grow and buy. In fact, if you were to try the chicken from a chicken nugget it probably wouldn’t taste like anything. Apparently they have to put artificial chicken flavoring in that chicken nugget. The soda has lots of corn in it too. If you look on the label of a bottle of soda high fructose corn syrup will be among the first ingredients.

     You might be thinking, “I’ll just get one of McDonald’s salads, that’s natural.” No. Nada. Negatory. Negative. Think again. Those leaves of lettuce are grown on a huge industrial farm that stretches as far as the eye can see. They’re grown with pesticides too. Same thing with the nuts on the salad and the onions and the tomatoes on your non-organic cornburger. The cows that made the cheese that goes on your cornburger and the milk that goes into your child’s Happy Meal is fed the same diet that the cornburger-making cows eat. Does that happy meal of a cheeseburger, french-fries, and a cup of soda from McDonald’s seem happy any more? Not to me it doesn’t.   

            The Industrial Organic Meal:  There’s not much to say about this part. An industrial organic meal is something like a Cascadian Farms frozen food product. The animals and vegetables come in massive numbers and it is shipped all over the country but the vegetables are grown without pesticides and the chickens are fed organic food. It’s sort of like an organic McDonald’s even though that is really hard to imagine. 

            The Local Sustainable Meal:  A local sustainable meal would be something that is grown on a farm near your house and is almost always organic. My family and I are doing a local sustainable month. If you were to crack open a local sustainable egg from an organic fed chicken in the middle of summer you will find that the yolk is a beautiful carrot orange and that it is much more firm then a non-organic egg. When food is shipped long distances it loses much of its nutrients and flavor. Local organic food is much healthier and it tastes better. If you would like to start eating local I would recommend Outpost as a grocery store.

              The Do-it-Yourself Meal:  The do-it –yourself meal is the oldest kind of meal. It is food that you have grown, gathered, or hunted yourself. This is the kind of meal that you always have a story to tell about. The kind of meal that gets you at peace with nature. The best kind of meal. This is most comforting and warming dinner that all of us should at some point eat. This technique has been around since the first prehistoric human walked the earth. If you are a vegetarian and you don’t hunt animals, hunt for mushrooms. This is a really healthy meal.

                 Conclusion: The point of the book is not to make you be a vegetarian. It is to help you learn the story behind what you eat. So eat all the food you want. Just make sure it’s healthy. If you would like to learn more about the industrial meal I would recommend Food Inc, a DVD. Michael Pollan has other books too. Two of them are Food Rules and In Defense of Food – An Eater’s Manifesto. Over all I thought this was a really good book.


Posted By: Fred Reads



Filed under Uncategorized

3 responses to “Overview: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

  1. Thank you, Fred for reaffriming my decision in being a vegetarian. (Yes, I know that isn’t the point, but I’m glad I don’t eat cheeseburgers after having read that.)

    Fred, I am impressed by your writing skill in this post. The use of language is very provocative. I liked your use of repetition when you said, “No. Nada. Negatory. Negative. Think again.” I also liked the way you used the word “happy’ in, “Does that happy meal of a cheeseburger, french-fries, and a cup of soda from McDonald’s seem happy any more? Not to me it doesn’t.” Its a great skill for a reviewer to show how the book makes them feel without saying it so plainly and here I can tell you had a feeling of genuine disgust while reading this section. Wonderful work.

  2. Fred Reads

    I’m proud of you, Fred!

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