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

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
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's review
Jan 31, 08

Read in January, 2008

For the first hundred-or-so pages I really loved this book, then I just really wanted to love it.

This is a great book for introducing thought about where we get our food for people who don't really think that much about it. It's written in a very personable, non-confrontational style (though he does name-drop Berkeley often enough to make me wonder if that wouldn't turn some readers off) and it refrains from making any kind of judgment on the life-choices of those involved. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who was already exploring alternatives to "factory" food.

That was my objective review, this is my subjective review:
At first, I felt let down that Pollan didn't do a very in-depth investigation, blaming any lack of firsthand knowledge on the meatpacking plant's or chicken farm's refusal to let him in. The problem with that complaint is that this isn't supposed to be one of those smoking gun-type books—this wasn't meant to be Fast Food Nation II.

The way this book differed from Fast Food Nation is that the author in that case was much more of a behind-the-scenes investigative reporter, whereas The Omnivore's Dilemma is a personal journey through our industrial/military/organic/natural food chain and, as such, is subject to the author's personal preferences and opinions. Because of that, my radical side wanted a more dramatic resolution: a denouncement of factory-farmed and processed foods, a boycott of Big Organic, a resolution to throw away his manufactured life and return to the wild where he and his family will live in a cabin they built themselves and hunt and forage for their survival... Instead, in a kind of 1984 ending, Pollan went through the system—he investigated how it was, how it is, and how it can be—and came out the other side asking someone to please pass the canned soup stock.

I know it's hard ditching the way of life we've all always known. Hell, trying to rid our lives of processed food, chemicals, and synthetic substances is practically impossible. I just got this feeling that all the investigation in this book was done to support a conclusion the author had already made—like those "independent studies" Procter & Gamble reverse-engineers so only the right variables are tested, thereby yielding the results they already know they want.
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message 2: by Johnny (new)

Johnny ok, let me know how you like this guy. I had my eye on it. You are insane ... like a book a night it seems like.

Andrea Have you read Pollan's other books? This was the first for me and I think I need to read one of the others before I decide whether I like him or not.

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