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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals | [Michael Pollan]

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance.
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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the 21st century.

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't, which mushrooms should be avoided, for example, and which berries we can enjoy. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance.

The cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet has thrown us back on a bewildering landscape where we once again have to worry about which of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. At the same time we're realizing that our food choices also have profound implications for the health of our environment. The Omnivore's Dilemma is best-selling author Michael Pollan's brilliant and eye-opening exploration of these little-known but vitally important dimensions of eating in America.

We are indeed what we eat, and what we eat remakes the world. A society of voracious and increasingly confused omnivores, we are just beginning to recognize the profound consequences of the simplest everyday food choices, both for ourselves and for the natural world. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a long-overdue book and one that will become known for bringing a completely fresh perspective to a question as ordinary and yet momentous as "What shall we have for dinner?"

©2006 Michael Pollan; (P)2006 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

  • National Book Critics Circle 2006 Award Finalist, Nonfiction

"Remarkably clearheaded book....A fascinating journey up and down the food chain." (Publishers Weekly)
"His supermeticulous reporting is the book's strength - you're not likely to get a better explanation of where your food comes from....In an uncommonly good year for American food writing, this is a book that stands out." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Completely charming." (Nora Ephron)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Kathryn Ashburnham, MA, USA 07-30-09
    Kathryn Ashburnham, MA, USA 07-30-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved it!"

    Quality from the research to the narration. Pollan deserves a medal for the work he's done. This is a dense book, and is particularly well-suited to audio. (Quite frankly, I'm not sure I would have gotten through the print version, and that would have been a shame.) One of the most influential books I've "read" in years.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Lynchburg, VA, USA 12-12-08
    Scott Lynchburg, VA, USA 12-12-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliantly unbiased throughout the entire book"

    My fear with any books offering detailed knowledge on a specific subject is that the information presented will be slanted towards the authors opinion. I was happily impressed that Michael Pollan avoiding putting his personal bias on the information he was providing. That's not to say that he didn't offer his opinion, but he reserved it until he laid out the facts. This style allows you to make up your own mind rather than allowing the author to warp your perception to match theirs. This book provided me with eye opening information about the industrial food chain, as well as the slow food movement and even hunting and gathering. The only thing I felt was missing was a lengthier conclusion, offering the author's final opinion after researching and eating his three meals.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    05-20-08
    05-20-08 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Eye opening and gut wrenching"

    Something you've always suspected, but never really wanted to know. After reading this book, you know too much. Very informative though and it is well worth reading about what you put into your body every day. You know the saying "garbage in, garbage out", so you better take to heart some of the facts presented here. If you're at all interested in living healthy and (hopefully) long and/or have young children you must read this book. You should know what you're eating and feeding your kids!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DebG 05-06-08
    DebG 05-06-08 Member Since 2015

    dgreener1

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Omnivore's Dilemma"

    If you read only ONE book this year, make it this one! Simply put, The Omnivore's Dilemma is a total eye-opener! Of course I knew that most of the food on the market was laced with pesticides, but had no idea to what extent we are being duped.

    Michael Pollan presents this work as extremely well researched and written. I will absolutely read his other books.

    And, I must say that I enjoyed the voice of the narrator, Scott Brick. He's one of the best.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Brooklyn, NY, USA 04-08-08
    Robert Brooklyn, NY, USA 04-08-08 Member Since 2013
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    "super interesting"

    very thorough and interesting investigation of four ways a meal can be produced. The best part by far is polyface farm, as a world view where an understanding of science and nature are brought together to produce healthy, sustainable food. An easy listen, I suggest listening to the botany of desire as well

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    fred greensboro nc 02-22-08
    fred greensboro nc 02-22-08 Member Since 2005
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    "Listen and you won't go to the grocery store again"

    A wonderful examination of the modern food supply chain. The author lays out the different ways we get our food. If you're squemish then you might get grossed out. He lets you decide whether and how to change your eating and shopping habits by providing a ton of information.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Flores Los Angeles, CA 01-06-08
    A. Flores Los Angeles, CA 01-06-08 Listener Since 2007

    Hail Seitan!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Engrossing, enlightening and inspiring!"

    This book encompasses the subject of eating food like no other I have come across. The wide array and level of depth of information is amazing. Not only is Pollan's prose engaging and full of wit and humor, Scott Brick's narraration is equally outstanding bringing Pollan's prose to life with vibrance and inflection.

    I don't think I am able to do the book justice in describing its breadth, so I will say that there is an abundance of good reading for the food enthusiast, the philosopher, the consumer activist, the history buff, the spiritualist, the health nut, the naturalist, the economist, but to most of all...the average human being who consumes food on a daily basis... which makes us all!!

    For another enlightening book on food that covers similar grounds, check out "Much Depends On Dinner" by Margaret Visser.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Ithaca, NY, USA 06-13-07
    Nancy Ithaca, NY, USA 06-13-07 Member Since 2015
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    "Good Content, Difficult Narration"

    I really enjoyed Michael Pallin's last book and this one is very good too. The section on local agriculture was very interesting. Bu the narrator was overly dramatic to the point of being difficult to listen to. I'm a dedicated listener, and I liked the book, but I nearly turned it off a few times due to the narration.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lancaster United States 12-28-06
    Lancaster United States 12-28-06 Member Since 2006
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    "challenging"

    seemingly endless but worth it. i found it enlightening and interesting. this book will challenge your understanding of our food supply, and how to make the best choices for you and your family.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Kendall Park, NJ, United States 05-06-06
    Ian Kendall Park, NJ, United States 05-06-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Instant Classic Nonfiction"

    First, as the reviewer who actually heard author Pollan speak live notes, I agree that Scott Brick's reading of this book is *outstanding*--Brick has the talent of reading long sentences--many of which might be arcane or esoteric if simply read om page, and emphasize the important phrases--like reader Grover Gardner, the reading is brilliant.
    I inhererited my Uncle Larry's book addiction---so I've read all that are on the list now (6 May 2006)--and the list is as streong as ever. This is a shockingly fantastic book.
    The presentation is: Obective, Socially responsible, Overwhelmingly well-researched with proof in detail.
    One reviewer wrote that Scott's delivery was "snobby" and "overread." So it is not for everyone, I know. This material is fact intensive, politically charged, and impeccably researched-the Sample is indicative of this long book--I listened and I thought: "Audible's first instant *classic*"---especially when you consider the price of the book-- If you are interested in this type of material: anthropology, politics, human nature, I could not recommend this more highly.

    17 of 23 people found this review helpful
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