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

By Michael Pollan, Miriam Brody (Introduction by), Richard Astro (Introduction by), M. Kuwata (Illustrator), Charles R. Kesler (Contributor), Barbara Vos & Fiona Seeley
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Item Specifications...

Pages   450
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.75" Width: 6.75" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   1.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 25, 2006
Publisher   Penguin Press HC, The
ISBN  1594200823  
EAN  9781594200823  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
What should we have for dinner? When you can eat just about anything nature (or the supermarket) has to offer, deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir anxiety, especially when some of the foods might shorten your life. Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from a national eating disorder. As the cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast food outlet confronts us with a bewildering and treacherous landscape, what's at stake becomes not only our own and our children's health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth. Pollan follows each of the food chains--industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves--from the source to the final meal, always emphasizing our coevolutionary relationship with the handful of plant and animal species we depend on. The surprising answers Pollan offers have profound political, economic, psychological, and even moral implications for all of us.--From publisher description.

Publishers Description
The bestselling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the twenty-first century

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't-which mushrooms should be avoided, for example, and which berries we can enjoy. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance. The cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet has thrown us back on a bewildering landscape where we once again have to worry about which of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. At the same time we're realizing that our food choices also have profound implications for the health of our environment. The Omnivore's Dilemma is bestselling author Michael Pollan's brilliant and eye-opening exploration of these little-known but vitally important dimensions of eating in America.

Pollan has divided The Omnivore's Dilemma into three parts, one for each of the food chains that sustain us: industrialized food, alternative or "organic" food, and food people obtain by dint of their own hunting, gathering, or gardening. Pollan follows each food chain literally from the ground up to the table, emphasizing our dynamic coevolutionary relationship with the species we depend on. He concludes each section by sitting down to a meal--at McDonald's, at home with his family sharing a dinner from Whole Foods, and in a revolutionary "beyond organic" farm in Virginia. For each meal he traces the provenance of everything consumed, revealing the hidden components we unwittingly ingest and explaining how our taste for particular foods reflects our environmental and biological inheritance.

We are indeed what we eat-and what we eat remakes the world. A society of voracious and increasingly confused omnivores, we are just beginning to recognize the profound consequences of the simplest everyday food choices, both for ourselves and for the natural world. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a long-overdue book and one that will become known for bringing a completely fresh perspective to a question as ordinary and yet momentous as What shall we have for dinner?

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More About Michael Pollan, Miriam Brody, Richard Astro, M. Kuwata, Charles R. Kesler, Barbara Vos & Fiona Seeley

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Michael Pollan, recently featured on Netflix in the four-part series Cooked, is the author of seven previous books, including Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, all New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to The New York Times, he is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at Berkeley. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.

Michael Pollan currently resides in the state of Connecticut.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Food will never look the same again  Nov 20, 2008
The author does an excellent job of explaining how ethics, policy, biology, culture and big business are connected and have shaped the foods that we eat today. Many of our eating habits in the Western diet simply do not make sense and ultimately have global repurcussions.

The author raises many good questions without sounding moralistic or judgemental. Why eat imported organic produce from a foreign country if the shipper burns huge quanitities of fossil fuels to deliver it to you? Why continue to feed cattle corn when their stomachs cannot digest it? Can we really say a food product has "natural raspberry flavor" when the flavor is actually derived from corn?

I enjoyed this author's writing style so well that I will likely buy his other book, "In Defense of Food".
Amazing Read  Nov 11, 2008
All of the information in the book is something a well informed person should know. It was an interesting journey though, and quite an easy eye opening read. Highly recommended.
Thought-provoking and terrifying  Nov 11, 2008
Pollan gives us a ton of information about food production in hopes that we can treat our meals with a little more reverence and understanding. Unfortunately, since I've read the book, I think I feel more food-related anxiety than appreciation. I can't go into a grocery store without having panic attacks. Sweaty palms and irregular breathing on Aisle 2. Seriously.

The truth is, there's a lot to be nervous (and furious) about when you start looking closely at large-scale agrobusiness. And there doesn't seem to be any easy way out. Pollan has done some incredible research here, and although he sometimes slips into foodie-self-indulgence, the book is both interesting and affecting.
The True Cost of Eating Your Lunch  Nov 2, 2008
Journalist Michael Pollan has written what appears on the surface to be a boring book. He decides to eat four meals and explore the history and consequences of each. He chooses an industrial agricultural meal (fast food), a large-scale organic meal, locally raised farm meal and finally he hunts and gathers his last meal.

By capturing the social, economic, and ecological as well as the moral, and ethical consequences of each meal, Pollan has written a modern day masterpiece on a task most people take for granted - eating their lunch. It's an intricately woven narrative with a massive amount of pain-staking research. But one thing "The Omnivore's Dilemma" is not is boring. Its captivating reading.

It should be required reading for anyone who as eaten a Big Mac or thinks that shopping at Whole Foods is going to save the planet. Every food item people purchase and consume is a political statement and has rippling effects on their health, the environment, and our society. Pollan has written a wake-up call to all of us.

And for those vegetarians out there? Pollan makes one of the best arguments I've ever read about why vegetarians are inherently hypocritical and why the vegetarian lifestyle may be more unnatural and nature defying than any other diet.

Here are some of the highlights from Pollan's fascinating book:

* Meat might not be that bad for people. The problem is the way we raise cattle. Cows evolved to eat grass. Their stomachs are complicated six chambered organs designed to break down and digest grasses. Industrial raised cattle are fed ground up corn, which is unhealthy for them. As a result, the cattle become ill and the corn has to be injected with antibiotics and other chemicals. It's the corn that marbles beef and causes it to be unhealthy. "In the same way ruminants are ill adapted to eating corn, humans in turn may be poorly adapted to eating ruminants that eat corn," according to Pollan.

* Cattle are fed corn for about 150 days before they are slaughtered. It's a good thing because it is unlikely that cattle could survive the chemical-laced corn diet for much longer than that. Even at 150 days, most of the cattle we eat are sick.

* Food companies have an enormous challenge in order to grow and meet Wall Street expectations. The biggest problem: "fixed stomach." People can only consume a limited amount of food each year - about 1,500 pounds. So food companies are forced to do one of two things: entice people to eat more or convince them to pay more for what they already eat. This has lead to the development of a new type of corn starch which has zero calories. In other words, the food companies are on the verge of developing food with no calories so you can eat as much as you like.

* A child in the U.S. born in 2000 has a one in three chance of being diabetic.

* Hunger is complicated in human beings due to our feast or famine digestive system. As a result of this evolutionary trait humans won't stop eating when they are full. In fact, when presented with an overabundance of food, human will eat up to 30 percent more. It's one of the reasons why "super-sizing" portions has worked so well at fast food chains.

* There is butane in chicken McNuggets. Why? Lighter fluid apparently adds freshness. The FDA allows 0.02 percent of the chemical TBHQ in food. That's kind of them because one gram of TBHQ causes: "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, and a sense of suffocation and collapses." Five grams of TBHQ kills human beings.

* People in the U.S. each more corn than any other food. Corn byproducts are in nearly everything we consume. A breakdown of corn in a typical McDonald's meal looks like this: Soda (100 percent corn), milk shake (78 percent), salad dressing (65 percent), chicken nuggets (56 percent), cheeseburger (52 percent), and French fries (23 percent).

* The organic food movement is starting to look a lot like big business. The grocery chain Whole Foods, for example, buys most of its food from two enormous organic food companies Earthbound Farms and Grimmway Farms - rarely buying food for local farms. For example, milk can be called organic and the only difference in treatment and conditions for the cows is that they are fed organic corn instead of regular corn. Cows, of course, don't naturally eat corn.

* Under pressure from big organic farms, the U.S. government allows synthetic additive including "guar and xanthan gum" and "carrageenan" to be called organic. That's why consumers can buy organic TV dinners, which, if you think about it, isn't really possible.

* Lots of organic farming operations uses fraudulent claims to entice people. A perfect example are chickens. Pollan visited a farm that claimed its birds were "range free." This conjures images of uncaged birds roaming grassy lots. He found these chickens in a shed crammed with 20,000 birds - fed, of course, organic corn. They got to call the birds range free because there was a door on the side of the shed that lead to a small fenced in yard. But the door is only unlocked after the chickens were five to six weeks old. They are slaughtered two weeks later.

* Mushrooms are not plants - they are fungi and actually closer related to animals than plants. There is a fungi in Michigan that takes up more than 40 acres and may be centuries old.

* Pollan takes on the vegetarian mentality. He says the concept of "mourning" the death of an animal is a new modern emotion - a departure from the way nature is. Death - animals killing other animals for food - is the way nature was designed. It's the grand design.

Read more "Literate Blather" at the Dark Party Review [...]
Changed My World View  Oct 28, 2008
Let me put it out front -- I'm an omnivore and nothing in the book changes that. What has changed is my entire way of looking at food. The book is loaded with information that makes one reconsider the mix of foods you eat. What I like is that it does this while not telling the reader precisely what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. Rather, the emphasis is on balance and on knowing something about where your food comes from. This is a subject for which too many authors become preachy, but not Pollan.

Write your own review about The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

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