Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Favorite Reads:The Omnivore's Dilemma

My Favorite Reads

Each week I am featuring one of my favorite reads from the past.

March is National Nutrition Month so I am posting books on food/drink. Today I chose The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Scott Brick (Narrator) (audiobook)

Summary (from the publisher):
A New York Times bestseller that has changed the way readers view the ecology of eating, this revolutionary book by award winner Michael Pollan asks the seemingly simple question: What should we have for dinner? Tracing from source to table each of the food chains that sustain us - whether industrial or organic, alternative or processed - he develops a portrait of the American way of eating. The result is a sweeping, surprising exploration of the hungers that have shaped our evolution, and of the profound implications our food choices have for the health of our species and the future of our planet.

Why I chose this book:

This book goes on a very, very short list of books that actually changed the way I think (or in this case, the way I eat). Ever since I read (well, listened) to this book, I have switched to only eating meat once a day. It's mostly for the environmental impact. and it helps that it's healthier too. This absolutely wasn't why I read the book though. I was on the road and I was eating fast food a lot of the time (not that I had many other options.) Mr. Pollan manages to be informative without pedantic. He's a health nut without being holier-than-thou (in fact, he even still ate a McDonald's meal at the end of the book although I doubt he would now.)

I just thought it was an interesting set-up: trace 4 meals from beginning to plate: McDonald's, Whole Foods, farmer's market, hunter-gatherer. I do eat a lot less fast food now, but it's still yummy. Thanks to Mr. Pollan I now know that a McDonald's meal is basically corn, corn, and corn with a side of corn, but it's yummy corn. I could never go as far as he has, but I admire his conviction, and his sense. He still manages to have fun with the story, while so many other authors would have been strident and tedious.

I recommend it highly. And the audio version was excellent. I didn't feel like I missed anything from the print book, it was well-read and entertaining.


The Book Mole said...

I am a new visitor here (made it from Alyce's blog) and love your blog! This is a great review - I will check this book out. I was brought up vegetarian, have never had meat or seafood all my life, and can't digest them now! I am curioys about the evolution of various diets, and this seems to be a book that may help me understand.

Carin Siegfried said...

he does have meat in all his meals in this book though I believe he's mostly a vegetarian now. Meat is really just the most inefficient use of resources.

Alyce said...

I'm always on the hunt for a good audio book, so I will definitely see our library has this one.

My biggest weakness for fast food isn't McDonald's, it's Taco Bell. I'm very thankful that one hasn't opened in our town or I would have an even harder time maintaining a healthy weight.

Carin Siegfried said...

Funny, that's the one Fast Food chain I really won't eat at. Didn't like it before then my whole family - who ate there and not the 3 of us who refused to - got food poisoning there. I think McDonalds hands down has te best fries, but my current weakneess is the Spicy Chicken Sandwich at Wendys (and a Frosty).

Sherrie said...

I read this book last year. Great book that opened my eyes to how our food is processed and what's in it. If you liked this one, you should read his other book, In Defense of Food. It's really good too. Have a great day!

Just Books

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

This does sound like a very informative and healthy book.

My post:


Carin said...

I enjoyed this book, but I got something completely different out of it than most people. A few people I know advocate only buying grass fed beef and buying from small farms so that you are getting the best food possible. These same people are quite militant about choosing to shop for these things and tend to look down upon those people that...*gasp!*...shop at a regular grocery store. My take on the book was that yes, that is great, but without industrial farms we would have a major food crisis on hand and many would die of starvation. Also, there are a lot of people that can't afford to buy some of the the things that would make for more sustainable farming. It was an interesting book, but I sometimes wonder if I read the same book that other people did. hehe

Booksnyc said...

This has been on my TBR for awhile - I am glad to hear it works well on audio because that may be how I get to it.

I have made small changes in how I shop for food but I know there is a lot more to learn!

Carin Siegfried said...

Other Carin, it's been probably 4 years since I read it so my memory certainly isn't 100%. I wonder if the tone of voice I got in the audio as opposed t on the page is what made me not get that strident vibe you seem have inferred. Hm. That's not a sign of great writing if tone of voice is very important to his message. I do completely agree with you that buying the fancy meat is super-expensive. At Christmas I bought the lamb from Whole Foods for the family - which was probably treated better than I am - and it was $75. For 7 people. WOW! Normally I just shop at Harris Teeter.

Carin said...

Pollan wasn't like that at all in the book. That's why I feel like I read a different book than all my family and friends did. I guess because I'm not too earthy and have a business degree I saw a lot of what he said from a business perspective. I thought it was fascinating. I also think he was pretty clear that the choices he made were for himself and weren't meant to villify us regular shoppers. I liked the book. Oh, my town is also having it's first farmer's market tomorrow--I plan on going! :)