Oct 10, 07
Read in October, 2007
I started this book months ago during my "local / slow eating" kick. The first two-thirds, about processed food and organic food, were fascinating: Pollan's writing was rich, but tight. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about corn, and considered giving away all my worldly possessions and apprenticing myself to a grass farmer in Virginia.
The last third was about the most personal form of eating: a hunter-gatherer meal. I started it several times and then basically gave up. I just didn't get the point of the exercise. How many people are really in a position to be able to forage and hunt their food on a regular basis, and how many of those people would have time to read a book like this? It seemed like a ridiculously self-absorbed quest.
After giving my Creative Writing class an excerpt from this book to analyze, however, I realized it was a bit hypocritical of me to expect them to read something I had never finished. I buckled down and promised to wade through what I thought would probably be the most boring part of the book.
Well, after a couple of dry-ish pages, things got a lot more interesting. He began to question some of the foundational principles of modern society, including the practice of eating meat. Ultimately, he decides that vegetarianism is not the only way out of our current situation, but the struggle is wonderful to observe. Additionally, his stories about hunting and gathering wild mushrooms comprise some of the best writing in the whole book.
Moral: force yourself to read the whole thing. You won't be disappointed!