Monday, October 29, 2007

The Omnivore's Dilemma

"When you can eat just about anything nature has to offer, deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir anxiety, especially when some of the potential foods on offer are liable to sicken or kill you." ~The Omnivore's Dilemma, page 3

This is not a book you should read if you are not prepared to take a long, hard look at what you eat. In this book the author leads us through four meals: industrial, big organic, sustainable, and The Perfect Meal.

The industrial meal follows a steer from birth, death to it's presumably winding up in a typical fast food meal. This section was very shocking to me and helped me to understand why animal rights people would be outraged at the treatment of these animals. It is horrifying. Worst of all, it's only for money. Obviously, it is of no benefit to the animal and it actually makes their meat less healthy for us to consume.

Big Organic farms are better in that the animals do not have steroids or antibiotics and are not fed animal by-products but the treatment of the animals is not more humane. As for organic produce, it may be more healthful(no pesticides, better vitamin content, etc.) but it is not without cost to the environment. In short: This method's heavy reliance on fossil fuels for processing and transportation makes it unsustainable.

As for the sustainable farm, the guiding principles that they follow are best outlined on their own site: Polyface, Inc.

I have to admit that this book has sparked an intense interest for me to find locally grown meat and produce and the metropolitan buying clubs. I had already been very interested in minimizing the processed food in my family's diet. I just didn't understand exactly how far the processing went.

The Perfect Meal is the one that Pollan hunts and gathers himself. He says that the meal is not perfect because it has the best taste. It's perfect because it is the one which caused him to work the most both physically and intellectually for his food. He knows where it all comes from and exactly what went into processing it and bringing it to the table.

I can't say that I enjoyed every section of this book. Some of it was difficult to read. But it was very eye-opening and worth the effort.(4.5/5)

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