The Omnivore’s Dilemma ( A Natural History of Four Meals ) by Michael Pollan
Where does the food we eat come from and how is the meat in our hamburger raised and killed? Not something you may want to think about the next time you eat fast food, but Pollan makes the topic come alive for us.He sounds so real and not preachy as he explores the subject first hand for his own edification.
The four meals in the title begin with a trip to McDonald’s for a family meal eaten in the car. Thereafter, Michael Pollan takes us on a close-up tour of three food chains, and endeavors to cook a meal with ingredients from each in turn.
The first is the industrial food chain of corn-fed beef produced on a large scale in less than appetizing conditions. Next, he takes us to a truly organic farm run by Joel Salatin where chickens, rabbits and other animals are raised in an old-style farm environment and fed on grass nourished by sunshine and natural compost. Finally he gets involved in gathering and hunting to prepare a neo-Paleolithic meal which he has personally procured all the ingredients.
I found this fascinating reading. He discusses vegetarian ideals, animal rights and what “organic” has come to mean these days…all the while eating meat himself.
The idea of Slow Food that is prevalent in European culture is lacking in the United States because we have no real culinary culture, says Pollan. He explains that the French who often eat supposedly unhealthy foods, are better off because they eat small portions, don’t take seconds, they don’t snack and they don’t eat alone. “Communal meals are long leisurely affairs.” And all of this allows them to” enjoy their meals without ruining their health,” says he!
Recently, a young man from Italy stayed here 2 days and he cooked for us the second night. “The Slow Food movement began in Italy,” he told us. “McDonald’s tried to open a store in Rome but in folded within a year.”
The lovely meal he carefully prepared for us took almost two hours to make. He sauteed different vegetables in separate pans to keep the flavor of each and then, finally, blended the salmon, mushrooms and zucchini to make the most amazing pasta!
As I read the book, I thought of him. We too cook from scratch and my husband raises most of our vegetables without the use of chemical fertilizer or pesticide.
I learned so much from Pollan’s book and I especially liked the way he let us watch him look for answers instead of telling us what we should do. I’m sure I’ll still eat meat, but I do want to think about how my food is produced and how far it comes to get to me. He raised many issues which will think more about!
Michael Pollan has written some other very interesting-looking books. Check it Books by Michael Pollan.
Other books by the same author include: