The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
A couple of nights ago I finally finished the Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book by Michael Pollan that I had borrowed from Erik and started way back in late June. But travel schedules and bike training managed to prevent me from finishing the book in a timely manner.
The book is complicated and intense to sum up in just one blog post, so I’ll probably have a handful of posts related to the book in the next week or so. For those of you who have never heard of it it, here’s the review from Publisher’s Weekly, courtesy of Amazon.com:
Pollan (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.
– Reviewed by Pamela Kaufman
Lately I’ve been having my own dilemma with food. I’ve decided it’s in the best interest of my bank account and my waist line if I start (again) bringing my lunch to work instead of relying on the cafeteria in my building. But I have to say, the thought of eating yet another turkey sandwich makes me want to vomit (sorry). I have actually thrown out sandwiches because I couldn’t bring myself to eating them anymore. But what else can I bring?
Some have suggested leftovers, but I don’t typically make large scale dinners that provide leftovers. Most of my dinners are raviolis and frozen chicken, just enough to feed myself. Sometimes I do frozen dinners or deli chickens from the grocery store. Toss in a vegetable and a dessert and I’m done.
I get tired of eating the same things over and over again, so I wanted to inquire to you, my wonderful readers, about what the heck you feed yourself with everyday? What do you make that you don’t get sick of? Making food is certainly complicated, as proven by Michael Pollan, but choosing and making food is also complicated! I need a refresher course in how to eat. Any thoughts? Thanks.