Linda'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
Aug 04, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, environment, faith

I thought this was really good, but found it unexpectedly depressing. I guess it made me think about how hard it is to extricate yourself from a way of relating to the earth and to other people that is ultimately destructive.
I have a friend who does a lot of work on climate change, and she gets impatient with foodies like me. Her basic point is that we should worry a lot more about how we get to the store than what we buy when we're there. People driving 20 miles to purchase organic food is one of her big gripes, and I take her point to heart.
However, I've been reading Marcus Borg's Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, and I'm struck by his description of sacraments as those practices that help people experience the Divine. Most faith traditions have a sacrament for food, with good reason. Food feeds us physically, but also spiritually. Mindful eating reminds you of your connection to the Earth, to your own body, to other people, and ultimately, to God. So if the food we eat is gained through exploitive and destructive practices, we rob our spirits of that opportunity for grace each time we eat.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Ana (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ana Hi Linda-- I just read your review and your friend's complaint that folks should worry about how they get to the store (i.e. carbon emissions and global warming). While I agree with your friend (I bike as much as I can), a large part of the petroleum product use in the U.S. and the industrialized world is for industrial food production (in fertilizers, for tractors, shipping, etc.) Sooo, food is a global warming issue too! Better to link the issues!


message 2: by Linda (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:49PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Linda Hi Ana,
I guess the danger of representing someone else's argument is that you can never be sure that you're getting the nuances right. I think her point is that food is a narrow lens through which to address climate change. She thinks people should focus on transportation and energy use more, as well as pushing for policy change on those issues. I think she thinks the push for organics and for local food is less important, and perhaps distracts people from making more important changes. I think there's an element of class politics, too, which I don't understand well enough to even try to characterize.
For myself, I try to resolve the issue by walking to the farmers market and to the grocery store. I still buy processed and non-local ingredients. I do try to view those things as occasional treats, and not staples of my diet.

message 3: by Kimberly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Kimberly Linda, I loved your comment about food as sacrament. Beautiful.

I haven't read The Omnivore's Dilemma. I'm kind of afraid to. Like, don't I have enough to worry about already??? ;-)

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