Since I was young, my relationship with food has been complicated. For most of my adolescent to young adult years, I was overweight. In the same way that I was lost in myself, I was lost in how to use food to take care of my body. That might be a possible story for another post, but for the sake of this post, just understand that over time I discovered an approach to food that worked for me. However, after the birth of my son, I gained a new type of weight that was stubborn and frustrating. It got to the point where this year I got tired of food- all kinds of it- burgers, salad, fruit, it didn’t matter. It’s a burden to try to figure out what’s best to eat. Living a healthy lifestyle should not be hard or confusing. What started as a food frustration has become an awakening. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan has been there for me in this time of food “awakening”. This book deals with the complexities of the food on our plate.
Omnivore’s Dilemma is about understanding how our decisions about what to eat become murky and complicated. It addresses our “omnivore issues” like how did eating bread becomes a sin? And was the low carb diet even right? According to the book, when a koala eats it knows that its diet is eucalyptus, yet for humans, these decisions involve so much more. The book also describes three simple food chains that humans depend on- the industrial, the organic, and the hunter and gathering food systems. This book charts the development of each system to find out which one is best.
This book is clarifying and reflective. It examines how other agendas like politics and economics take advantage of our vulnerabilities to food. I will say that the author is deep and detailed in his explanation. For example, the story of the industrial agricultural movement begins with corn. I can understand that, but when he gets into the ancestors of corn, I find myself getting lost in the purpose of reading this book. Nevertheless, I appreciate the author bringing awareness to the impact corn has on the food industry. Pollan also deals with the organic movement. What’s disheartening is discovering that there is no such thing as organic. The book reveals that the organic process that organic products experience is not as organic as one might think. Lastly, the author addresses the hunters and gathers the system. This system is primitive. Of course, we know that in this system, man hunts, kills, and gathers his meal. Pollans, he believes this system to be the most rewarding because this gathering and hunting for your food involve work and grit. I agree with him when you grow your own food, you feel differently about what you eat. Also, in the hunting and gathering system, you have the most control. Use this book to come into awareness about what you consume then make the best decisions about food for you.