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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by [Michael Pollan]
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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 1,835 ratings

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Length: 468 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Age Level: 18 and up Grade Level: 12 and up
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

[Signature]Reviewed by Pamela KaufmanPollan (The Botany of Desire) examines what he calls "our national eating disorder" (the Atkins craze, the precipitous rise in obesity) in this remarkably clearheaded book. It's a fascinating journey up and down the food chain, one that might change the way you read the label on a frozen dinner, dig into a steak or decide whether to buy organic eggs. You'll certainly never look at a Chicken McNugget the same way again.Pollan approaches his mission not as an activist but as a naturalist: "The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world." All food, he points out, originates with plants, animals and fungi. "[E]ven the deathless Twinkie is constructed out of... well, precisely what I don't know offhand, but ultimately some sort of formerly living creature, i.e., a species. We haven't yet begun to synthesize our foods from petroleum, at least not directly."Pollan's narrative strategy is simple: he traces four meals back to their ur-species. He starts with a McDonald's lunch, which he and his family gobble up in their car. Surprise: the origin of this meal is a cornfield in Iowa. Corn feeds the steer that turns into the burgers, becomes the oil that cooks the fries and the syrup that sweetens the shakes and the sodas, and makes up 13 of the 38 ingredients (yikes) in the Chicken McNuggets.Indeed, one of the many eye-openers in the book is the prevalence of corn in the American diet; of the 45,000 items in a supermarket, more than a quarter contain corn. Pollan meditates on the freakishly protean nature of the corn plant and looks at how the food industry has exploited it, to the detriment of everyone from farmers to fat-and-getting-fatter Americans. Besides Stephen King, few other writers have made a corn field seem so sinister.Later, Pollan prepares a dinner with items from Whole Foods, investigating the flaws in the world of "big organic"; cooks a meal with ingredients from a small, utopian Virginia farm; and assembles a feast from things he's foraged and hunted.This may sound earnest, but Pollan isn't preachy: he's too thoughtful a writer, and too dogged a researcher, to let ideology take over. He's also funny and adventurous. He bounces around on an old International Harvester tractor, gets down on his belly to examine a pasture from a cow's-eye view, shoots a wild pig and otherwise throws himself into the making of his meals. I'm not convinced I'd want to go hunting with Pollan, but I'm sure I'd enjoy having dinner with him. Just as long as we could eat at a table, not in a Toyota. (Apr.)Pamela Kaufman is executive editor at Food & Wine magazine.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Humans were clearly designed to eat all manner of meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains. But, as Pollan points out, America's farmers have succeeded so wildly that today's fundamental agricultural issue has become how to deal sensibly with overproduction. The result of this surfeit of grain is behemoth corn processors, who have commoditized the Aztecs' sacred grain and developed ways to separate corn into products wholly removed from its original kernels. This excess food and Americans' wealth and rapid-paced lifestyles now yield supersized portions of less-than-nutritious eatables. Pollan contrasts the technologically driven life on an Iowa corn farm's feedlots with the thriving organic farm movement supplying retailers such as Whole Foods. Pollan also addresses issues of vegetarianism and flesh eating, hunting for game, and foraging for mushrooms. Throughout, he takes care to consider all sides of issues, and he avoids jingoistic answers. Although much of this subject has been treated elsewhere, Pollan's easy writing style and unique approach freshen this contemporary debate. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Top international reviews

Nicholas
5.0 out of 5 stars A great and relatively even-handed discussion of where our food comes from
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 4, 2015
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Bob Harvey
3.0 out of 5 stars heavy read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 8, 2018
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H. Macrae
5.0 out of 5 stars Sobering
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 27, 2013
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J. Depeau
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and well written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 28, 2012
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HKGCorlett
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and insightful read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 6, 2013
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Hard Working Woman
5.0 out of 5 stars A brave man with a mission
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 1, 2011
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Feeb
5.0 out of 5 stars EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 12, 2016
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Sarah C-S
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read in the current COVID-19 crisis
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 20, 2020
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Andysinging55
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly thought provoking
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 29, 2012
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Ronald G. Young
4.0 out of 5 stars superb read and food for thought
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 18, 2010
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D. Schofield
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 23, 2014
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M. Griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed the way I think about food
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 17, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Food religion
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 15, 2017
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Joseph
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2017
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Alejandro
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for every person interested in eating well.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 14, 2013
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