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

Front Cover
Penguin Group, 2006 - Cooking - 450 pages
185 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?

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Clear and compelling writing style. - Overstock.com
LOVED--- All descriptions of all meals. - Goodreads
Pollan divides his book into three meals. - Goodreads

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Anne_Green - LibraryThing

The premise of this book, according to its author, springs from a fundamental question "What shall we have for dinner" - ostensibly simple enough but today becoming increasingly a dilemma. In ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - csweder - LibraryThing

Hmm...Let's begin by saying how nervous I was to begin reading this. After Fast Food Nation, I decided I needed to give up meat, and was terrified at what this book would make me 'give up' next. (I ... Read full review

About the author (2006)

Michael Pollan is a contributing writer for "The New York Times Magazine" as well as a contributing editor at "Harper's" magazine. He is the author of two prize-winning books: "Second Nature: A Gardener's Education" and "A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder." Pollan lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.

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