Title: The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Author: Michael Pollan
Narrator: Scott Brick
Published: 2006 Pages: 450
Audio Duration: 15 hrs; 58 min
Genre: Non-Fiction (Food)
In Short: “Pollan follows each of the food chains that sustain us—industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves—from the source to a final meal, and in the process develops a definitive account of the American way of eating.” (quoted directly from the website)
Why I Listened: I’ve been hearing a lot about Michael Pollan for the past couple of years and my coworker who is also an avid audio listener highly recommended listening to his books. After querying where to begin, most folks said The Omnivore’s Dilemma was the perfect starting point for Pollan.
Thoughts in General: As noted above, there are three main sections of the book and my reaction while listening went like this: Guilt/Shame for eating processed foods, Interest and fascination over the organic movement, and Slight Boredom over mushroom hunting. At times The Omnivore’s Dilemma is the book you don’t want to read because you don’t want to hear the truths about America’s food industry and the associated politics, though I never felt that Pollan was lecturing or belittling anyone’s choices. Instead Pollan often presented both sides of the argument and asked many questions that might not have an immediate answer at this time. In the end I feel more enlightened than weighed down by guilt.
What can you expect to learn from listening to/reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma? These are the nuggets that stick out to me: Corn is everywhere and in everything! Some sad sad things happen to the animals at the animal farm (while Pollan doesn’t go into great detail, there were moments where my stomach turned). How the organic movement evolved into Big Organic versus Little Organic industries. In many cases it would take a literal act of congress to change the American food industry. Mushrooms are a mysterious organism and hunting for them is quite the expedition. And much much much more.
Bottom Line: I absolutely recommend The Omnivore’s Dilemma. While the entire book might not be of interest to you, there is certainly something for everyone. I am certain that you will glean new information from Pollan’s narrative and this book is likely to spark your own dialogue with others. One of the biggest takeaways I had from The Omnivore’s Dilemma is that we make conscious food choices and by exercising those choices we make a statement. After listening to this one I won’t be making any big earth-shattering changes to my eating habits but I will think about food differently. Sometimes awareness is the first step.
A Note on the Audio: This was my first experience with Scott Brick (I know, right?!) and while I didn’t find his narration earth shattering (to catch you up to speed, Brick is apparently The audio man) I found his narration to be very easy listening. Straight-forward, comfortable pacing, easy to understand and focus on but at the same time unobtrusive. I definitely recommend the audio (I have the paper copy of the book but didn’t even bother to pull it off the shelf).
Have you read The Omnivore’s Dilemma or other Michael Pollan books? What was your takeaway? If you haven’t, are you interested or is this generally something you keep away from with a 10 foot pole?
Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking. “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.” Hope you’ll join the fun!