These books create a stunning portrait of contemporary American life.
Credited with igniting the mainstream's consciousness surrounding food, Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan carefully examines the culture and processes of the food we eat. A catalyst for various food movements in the 21st century, Pollan successfully wrote a text that challenged and changed the way omnivores the world over think about what's on their dinner plate. Recommended By Alex Y., Powells.com
Michael Pollan’s earnest examination of modern eating habits made waves upon its release in 2006 and is largely responsible for pushing the local food movement into the mainstream. The Omnivore’s Dilemma uses the seemingly straightforward question of “What should we have for dinner?” as an impetus to explore how ridiculously complex our food system has become. What Pollan reveals through his adventures, as he explores three food chains from start to finish, is eye-opening. Pollan is a skilled writer, and he pulls you in with his candid storytelling and dedication to the challenge he set for himself in the book. It’s not an overstatement to say that The Omnivore’s Dilemma will change the way you view food; it may also change the way you eat. Recommended By Renee P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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?
"Michael Pollan is a voice of reason, a journalist/philosopher who forages in the overgrowth of our schizophrenic food culture. He's the kind of teacher we probably all wish we had: one who triggers the little explosions of insight that change the way we eat and the way we live." Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse restaurant
"Michael Pollan is such a thoroughly delightful writer his luscious sentences deliver so much pleasure and humor and surprise as they carry one from dinner table to corn field to feed lot to forest floor, and then back again that the happy reader could almost miss the profound truth half hidden at the heart of this beautiful book: that the reality of our politics is to be found not in what Americans do in the voting booth every four years but in what we do in the supermarket every day. Embodied in this irresistible, picaresque journey through America's food world is a profound treatise on the hidden politics of our everyday life." Mark Danner, author of Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror
"Every time you go into a grocery store you are voting with your dollars, and what goes into your cart has real repercussions on the future of the earth. But although we have choices, few of us are aware of exactly what they are. Michael Pollan's beautifully written book could change that. He tears down the walls that separate us from what we eat, and forces us to be more responsible eaters. Reading this book is a wonderful, life-changing experience." Ruth Reichl, Editor in Chief of Gourmet magazine and author of Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
"What should you eat? Michael Pollan addresses that fundamental question with great wit and intelligence, looking at the social, ethical, and environmental impact of four different meals. Eating well, he finds, can be a pleasurable way to change the world." Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market
"His book is an eater's manifesto, and he touches on a vast array of subjects, from food fads and taboos to our avoidance of not only our food's animality, but also our own. Along the way, he is alert to his own emotions and thoughts, to see how they affect what he does and what he eats, to learn more and to explain what he knows. His approach is steeped in honesty and self-awareness. His cause is just, his thinking is clear, and his writing is compelling." Bunny Crumpacker, The Washington Post
"The main contribution of Omnivore's Dilemma is its scope and rigor. I know of no other book that delivers a broader picture of the U.S. food scene, how it got the way it is, and how it's changing.... [A]n important book, sweeping through broad ground with impressive primary and secondary research." Grist magazine
"Pollan is an engaging companion, whether he's diving for abalone, collecting wild yeast, or musing about American gullibility. And his message is compelling. After reading the book, you will want to change how you eat." BusinessWeek
About the Author
Michael Pollan is the author of three previous books: Second Nature, A Place of My Own, and The Botany of Desire, which received the Borders Original Voices Award for the best nonfiction work of 2001 and was recognized as a best book of the year by the American Booksellers Association and Amazon. A longtime contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, Pollan is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. His writing on food and agriculture has won numerous awards, including the Reuters/World Conservation Union Global Award in Environmental Journalism, the James Beard Award, and the Genesis Award from the American Humane Association.