A blog following me and my family on our path to a healthier lifestyle
Friday, June 18, 2010
Review: Omnivore's Dilemma
I have been reading the Omnivore's Dilemma for the past couple weeks, and I think everyone should read this book. I'm going to be giving several of these books out for Christmas or maybe forth of July because this book is seriously eye opening and everyone should know this stuff.
Michael Pollan takes the reader through the American food industry examining the inputs to four separate meals:
1) McDonald's fast food
2) Organic dinner made from purchases at Whole Foods
3) Dinner made from locally & sustainably produce food
4) Dinner made from foods personally grown, foraged or hunted
Most of us 'aware' consumers know that the food that goes into McDonald's empire is not ethically raised by any sense of the imagination. Unfortunately I don't think the masses understand the extent to how unethical the production of this "Food" is.
The entire perfection of nature is turned inside out to make things "cheaper" and quicker for right now. The true cost of production is not taken into account. Following the meat for a McDonald's hamburger was one of the most upsetting things in this book. Cows are forced to eat corn which makes them sick and in need of constant antibiotics because corn is cheap(thanks to government subsidies).
Surprisingly, when Michael starts tracking back the organic food people purchase at Whole Foods, the reader sees that consumers aren't getting what they expect. While no(or very little) pesticides are used in producing their food, the practices are not sustainable at all when production is at such a massive level. Whole Foods does not buy from the local farmer, but from the massive farms in California, Chile and Argentina (for example).
The way Michael explains why massive organic farming isn't sustainable is by sharing his experience spending a week at a very sustainable farm Polyface. Joel Salatin, one of the farmers of Polyface, shows Micheal's the ins and outs of his farm. He explains how the cows and the chickens and the pigs all work together over the same land to create a perfect equilibrium.
While the cows eat the grass, their manure fertilizes the fields which produces grubs that feeds the chickens who spread out the manure to better fertilize the fields. It is all a big circle and becomes hard to see which piece is feeding the next. Over a generation of farming Joel, his father and his son have developed movables chicken coops and cow pastures to optimize the symbiotic relationship.
While reading this book, I became so upset with myself. I understood how terrible the mainstream meat production was, but I still wanted this food. My brain doesn't want to support this, but my stomach is still hungry for convenience. I love to eat out, but I know 99.9% of the restaurants are buying antibiotic pumped meat and pesticide covered produce.
I am working on changing my families habits so we can support local farmers. After watching Food Inc, I felt it was important to vote with my dollars. This book made me understand where I really want to put those dollars. I don't feel like I have given this book justice, so please just read this book. Michael is so good at explaining everything.
Please support your local farmers. There are more and more of them and with more demand, this 'opt out' option will get bigger and bigger. Check out eatwild.com to find local farmers and CSAs.
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?
I am a 28 year old wife and mother on the path to a healthier lifestyle. I like to cook, garden, run, read and talk about nutrition and play with my rambunctious 2 year old boy TJ. I love tasty (read as greasy) food, so I am pretty constantly trying to find a good balance.