[in press, Human Ethology Bulletin, October 2007]
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
By Michael Pollan
Penguin Press, New York, NY. 2006, 450pp. ISBN 1‐59420‐082‐3 [Hdbk., $26.95]
Reviewed by William F. McKibbin and Todd K. Shackelford
Florida Atlantic University, Dept. of Psychology, Davie, FL 33314 USA [E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org] The Omnivore’s Dilemma is the latest book by Michael Pollan, best known for his previous best‐ selling work, The Botany of Desire. Here, Pollan has crafted a well‐written and enjoyable exploration of humans’ relationship with food. The book is written for a lay audience, but is appreciable by all. Pollan begins by focusing on a seemingly simple question, “What should we have for dinner?” The answer, it seems, is not so simple for omnivores like us. Pollan guides the reader by examining the three major types of food production and divides the book into these three areas: Industrial (focusing on the modern food industry’s reliance on corn), Pastoral (focusing on organic food production, both “big” and “small” scale), and Personal (focusing on personally hunting and gathering one’s food). The first, Industrial section of the book demonstrates that nearly everything we consume in Western society, particularly in America, is in some way derived from corn. The processed foods that seem a staple of modern living are derived largely (if not wholly) from corn. Even foods such as eggs, chicken, fish, and beef are essentially derived from corn: cows, chickens, and fish are coerced to consume a food that to them is highly unnatural. If we are what we eat, as Pollan says, we are mostly corn. Pollan describes the modern industrial food chain by tracing the path of corn from farmer to feedlot to finished product. Along the way, he explains how the modern food chain has come to be dominated by corn. He explains how corn has evolved from a simple grass to the dominant ...
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