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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)

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  •  
    Gabe Sharon, VT, USA 04-21-06
    Gabe Sharon, VT, USA 04-21-06
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    "Wonderful listen!"

    I had picked this up having heard Pollan speak last year. I thought he was a good speaker but he is definitely a great writer. This book will probably be compared to Fast Food Nation frequently but I think this is a better book in every regard. It is beautifully written and in the manner of an investigative reporter as opposed to someone who is looking to confirm his views.

    Pollan may take sides but only after describing the pros and cons of different types of farming, etc. Whereas Fast Food Nation leaves you feeling gross, this book leaves you more educated and allows you to decide where to go next.

    Audio: The narrator was wonderful and made for a pleasant listen. There were a couple hiccups in the digital recording which were annoying but only happenned a couple times losing less than a sentence.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Everett, WA, United States 10-29-09
    Karen Everett, WA, United States 10-29-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Crucial Material, Narrated Wonderfully!"

    If you have any interest in the status of that which we call "food" in our modern day society, then this is the audio book for you. Take with a grain of salt the naysayers who kvetch about the "bore factor" or the "terrible narration" of this piece... It's a work of scientific non-fiction, for goodness sake!! Of course it is chock full of research and detailed information, but written in such a way as to be wholly engaging, fascinating and relevant right now. (If you are bored when confronted with fact-filled research, then consider fiction as, perhaps, a better suited medium) The narration is wonderful!! After reading some of the other reviews, I worried that the narrator may prove unpalatable, but I didn't find that to be the case at all. I listen to a *lot* of audio-books, and found Mr. Brick's representation of Michael Pollen's work to be perfectly lovely. He weaves a vibrancy into what might be a bit overwhelming at times into a tasteful and easy to listen to body. If you live in the U.S. and you are a consumer who purchases food in this country, you must read this book!

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cassi Cleveland, TN, USA 05-29-08
    Cassi Cleveland, TN, USA 05-29-08
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    "It will change how you eat"

    Excellent, excellent book. Well-researched content, riveting to listen to ... and it definitely has made me change my food habits, from what I choose and where I buy it. The first two main sections were most interesting to me - the story of the pervasiveness of corn and corn-derived products in the American diet (along with the reasons behind it), and also the unravelling of the organic movement. Whether you eat hamburgers and Twinkies, or are a raw-food gourmet, this book provides profound information about what shapes our eating habits. Required reading for anyone who eats!

    6 of 8 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 2003
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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.

    15 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Z'Oma 10-25-12
    Z'Oma 10-25-12 Member Since 2007
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    "From the field and the flock to our tables! SMART!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Omnivore's Dilemma to be better than the print version?

    Michael Pollan is brilliant. Listening is more convenient for me plus I enjoy the aspect of live theater over my headphones~~ if you have a good reader. Scott Brick does a fine job. Watch Michael Pollan speaking on a YouTube clip and you will immediately understand that this man is exceptional. He courageously takes on the journey of our food in the form of the history of wheat to, and I could NOT do this- engaging himself thru the entire process of getting that chicken on your plate: the whole disgusting process. His writing saves us all and it is WELL worth the journey. I will listen to his other books. I trust his integrity in his choice of expression- no matter what. If he can question, interview and wade in it, I most certainly have the heart to be enlightened by his process. Thanks, Michael Pollan!


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Mr Pollan's research is stunning. His expression of his findings is poetic no matter what the subject being covered. I, frankly, was not sure that I could actually make it from jacket cover to epilogue as I knew some of what was going to covered. This book was only brilliant.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Joel Salatin is a mid-western farmer. Michael Pollan included Mr Salatin's WHOLE agricultural process in a way that was engaging. Sustainability is a possibility. Proven here.


    Any additional comments?

    It is a great challenge to have the courage to look at the history of what is on our dinner plate or breakfast menu. We are so disconnected from the process of what we eat and where it comes from that it confronting the actual subject of Holistic Nutrition seems very daunting. We are disconnected from the awareness that there are more neurons in our brain than stars in the universe and the miracle that we are as physical bodies is a REAL MIRACLE. Let this book assist you by being an extraordinary 'listen' as an invitation to feel your heartbeat and breath!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Roselle Park, NJ, United States 09-21-11
    Scott Roselle Park, NJ, United States 09-21-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Makes You Think about What You Eat?"
    Would you listen to The Omnivore's Dilemma again? Why?

    Probably not. Its pretty long and its not type of story you would need to listen to multiple times.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The descriptions of industrial organic make you really think about where your food comes from.


    Was there a moment in the book that particular moved you?

    Yes, the description of the McDonald's chicken nuggets and how they were barely "healthier" than the burger was eye-opening!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Noblesville, IN, United States 08-29-11
    David Noblesville, IN, United States 08-29-11
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    "One of the most impactful books I have ever read."

    This presentation is by far the best of any subject matter to which I have ever been exposed. The subject matter of where our food comes from is one that greatly interests me. But above and beyond the surface of this subject matter, the writing style and clarity with which Pollan writes is stunning. His writing is at once, scientific, insightful, extremely emotional and powerfully but subtly philosophical. The amount of ground covered from pole to pole is extraordinary. Starting with the industrial food chain and it's main component of corn, to the anachronistic farm of Joel Salatin and finally to the emotionally gripping journey of hunting and gathering, not a single detail is spared or missed as oversight. To cover such a wide range of topics in such incredible detail and with such care is absolutely astonishing.

    The narrator brought the presentation to life. He read the book with such zeal and care that he gave me the sense that he was just as interested in the book as I was and that we were reading the book together. The visual imagery that Pollan sought to put into his book came fervently alive with color, power and humor.

    This presentation is stunning and incredible. The subject matter is important to all of us as humans and I am greatly appreciative to Mr. Pollan for bringing this knowledge into my life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Traci Wilton, CT, United States 06-25-11
    Traci Wilton, CT, United States 06-25-11
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    "life-changing"

    This book was life changing for me. I thought I knew a lot about what I ate, but Michael Pollan opened my eyes to what I am putting in my mouth and my family's mouth . After listening to this book I became a full fledged vegetarian - that was about 10 months ago. I still cook meat for my family, but am much more thoughtful about what I buy. He can drone on a bit, however, and goes into more detail than necessary, at times.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barb Silver City, NM, United States 01-03-11
    Barb Silver City, NM, United States 01-03-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Loved it"

    Living a more sustanable life and growing some of what we eat I connect with the message here. It is so hard in todays world to be connected to where our food comes from and that is part of the problem. Thanks Michael for your journey, humor, and connection to what we eat.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Norco, CA, United States 10-09-10
    Rebecca Norco, CA, United States 10-09-10 Member Since 2009
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    "WOOW-- life changing"

    This book is FANTASTCI-- Very well written, VERY interesting, and has changed how I see myself and my food in this world of ours. SCOTT Brick is wonderful reader as always. AAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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