Essay about The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

611 WordsDec 9, 20123 Pages
One does not necessarily expect books about food also to be about bigger ideas like oppression, spirituality, and freedom, yet Pollan defies expectations. Pollan begins with an exploration of the food-production system from which the vast majority of American meals are derived. This industrial food chain is mainly based on corn, whether it is eaten directly, fed to livestock, or processed into chemicals such as glucose and ethanol. Pollan discusses how the humble corn plant came to dominate the American diet through a combination of biological, cultural, and political factors. The role of petroleum in the cultivation and transportation the American food supply is also discussed. A fast-food meal is used to illustrate the end result of the…show more content…
As a culture and as individuals, we no longer seem to know what we should and should not eat. When the old guides of culture and national cuisine and our mothers’ advice no longer seem to operate, the omnivore’s dilemma returns and you find yourself where we do today—utterly bewildered and conflicted about one of the most basic questions of human life: What should I eat? We’re buffeted by contradictory dietary advice: cut down on fats one decade, cut down on carbs the next. Every day’s newspaper brings news of another ideal diet, wonder-nutrient, or poison in the food chain. Hydrogenated vegetable oils go from being the modern alternatives to butter to a public health threat, just like that. Food marketers bombard us with messages that this or that food is “heart healthy” or is “part of a nutritious meal”. Without a stable culture of food to guide us, the omnivore’s dilemma has returned with a vengeance. We listen to scientists, to government guidelines, to package labels—to anything but our common sense and traditions. The most pleasurable of activities—eating—has become heavy with anxiety. The irony is, the more we worry about what we eat, the less healthy and fatter we seem to become. The answers Pollan offers to the seemingly straightforward question posed by this book have profound political, economic, psychological, and even moral implications for all of us. Beautifully written and thrillingly argued, The Omnivore’s Dilemma promises to change the
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