Yet the issues this book raises are still issues, meaning that the discussion must continue. I hope this will spark your interest in the book and encourage you to join in this discourse about the way we as humans (and in a large part, as Americans) interact with food.
I absolutely recommend you read this book, even if you find yourself scoffing at the argument by the end of this post. We all eat; therefore, we all make an impact on how our food is produced and where it comes from. Most young children naturally ask these questions: where does this come from? how is this made? As adults we learn to bypass these inquiries and just accept materials as they are. The Omnivore's Dilemma seeks to reverse this. You should know the answers and by the end of the book you will.
The book is divided into three parts, the first discussing corn, the second grass and the third foraging. The foraging chapters were by far the most pleasurable to read, for they hinted little at politics and the like and focused mainly on alternative ways to obtain food. The grass chapters were interesting because they revealed the work that must go into the land if it is to be natural and profitable. If you haven't yet heard of my new life plan, you won't understand why I believe this advice to be pertinent. (Ask me about it sometime.)
Yet by far it was the chapters on corn that were the most arresting. Pollan uses his book as a sort of basic platform from which to educate people on GMO's and industrial food practices. Much of the section is devoted to the corn that is used to feed cattle. Did you know that cows cannot digest the corn they are fed? The corn must be mixed with hormones, antibiotics and supplements. If a cow lives off of corn for too long (slightly more than 150 days) the cow will die from complications of his diet. Which, if not caught soon enough, are complications that will pass into humans.*
Pollan is not a vegetarian, something that is extremely obvious to anyone who takes the time to read the book. What he does advocate, however, are animals that are raised humanely and on the type of food they were built to thrive on. One thing he talks about a lot, especially in conjunction with a visit to Polyface Farm he describes, is that animals deserve the chance to thrive, not just exist, even if they are fated to end up in a kitchen.
By the final chapter I was more convinced than ever that our relationship with food has to change and that it is going to take more work than I thought. But small changes always matter, especially if they are for the good, so I encourage you to read this book and think about your own contributions.
*Pg 78 The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan