Summary of the Omnivore's Dilemma

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[in press, Human Ethology Bulletin, October 2007]

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
By Michael Pollan Penguin Press, New York, NY. 2006, 450pp. ISBN 1‐59420‐082‐3 [Hdbk., $26.95]

Reviewed by William F. McKibbin and Todd K. Shackelford
Florida Atlantic University, Dept. of Psychology, Davie, FL 33314 USA [E-mail:,] The Omnivore’s Dilemma is the latest book by Michael Pollan, best known for his previous best‐ selling work, The Botany of Desire. Here, Pollan has crafted a well‐written and enjoyable exploration of humans’ relationship with food. The book is written for a lay audience, but is appreciable by all. Pollan begins by focusing on a seemingly simple question,
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Other flaws in “big” organic are discussed, painting a picture of a feel‐good movement that provides few benefits. Pollan’s final position on “big” organic is somewhat unclear. He clearly perceives substantial flaws in the system, such as the fact that it is as non‐sustainable as typical industrial food production, but at the same time he seems to argue that it is at least a step in the right direction. Pollan’s position on “small” organic is much less equivocal. He spends a substantial section of the book detailing his visit to a small organic “grass” farm. Although Pollan does his best to maintain a journalistic, neutral view throughout the book, it is clear that he was captivated by the work being done by the grass farmers. Pollan shows that the most important crop to these farmers is in fact the numerous varieties of grass, which form the foundation of the life cycle on the farm. These farmers work to farm in a sustainable, natural way that closely resembles the symbiosis of nature. In this section, Pollan provides a fascinating look at the evolved relationships between different species of plants and animals, and how these relationships can be utilized to create a sustainable farming system. Although Pollan is clearly enamored with such “small” grass‐based farming, he also recognizes the near impossibility of implementing such farming on a large scale. For example, the higher costs
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