Customer Reviews for

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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

25 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

You are what you eat

The phrase "you are what you eat" has recently brought on a completely new meaning for me-eating stressed animals is really stressing me out! I have become increasingly aware and preoccupied with animal stress lately--this due to the fact that I have just finished readi...
The phrase "you are what you eat" has recently brought on a completely new meaning for me-eating stressed animals is really stressing me out! I have become increasingly aware and preoccupied with animal stress lately--this due to the fact that I have just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. Ignorance was bliss for me, up until now.
My entire life I have been surrounded by happy and unstressed animals. In addition to numerous childhood pets, I have spent many days on my grandparent's farm. The only animal stress that can be detected at this farm is from the occasional birthing heifer. I have been (maybe purposely) oblivious to animal stress and misery. Michael Pollan has enlightened me to a world of animal stress, including my own. This intriguing book exposes how Americans eat, what they really eat and why eating has become so complicated and stressful.
He begins with a surprisingly interesting, but lengthy (109 pages) section titled "Industrial CORN." I now know everything that I ever wanted to know about corn and its purposes. Pollan points out that corn is in almost everything we eat (from frozen yogurt to salad dressings), but more importantly he points out that corn is in animals that were never designed to eat it. He writes, "Corn is what feeds the steer that becomes the steak. Corn feeds the chicken and the pig, the turkey and the lamb, the catfish.even the salmon, a carnivore by nature that the fish farmers are reengineering to tolerate corn" (18).
Pollan views corn as the root of all evil. It is amazing to learn from his intensive research about how corn has come to rule the industrial world. However, he is not preachy or pushy in anyway-he just lays out the facts. These facts speak for themselves; it is very difficult to like corn after reading this book.
One point that he keeps bringing to our attention is that cows have not evolved to digest corn. He writes, "cows (like sheep, bison, and other ruminants) have evolved the special ability to convert grass-which single-stomached creatures like us can't digest-into high quality protein" (70). He then goes on to explain how the government subsidized feedlots and promoted a grading system based on the fat marbling system that favored corn-fed over grass-fed beef. This is why in feedlots cows are fed huge amounts of corn, even though cows can live better and healthier without any corn.
I have grown up with a family who raises beef cows in East Tennessee; therefore, it was hard for me to understand the claim that Pollan makes about "force feeding" cows and other animals corn. All cows LOVE corn. However, like humans, cows do not always make the right food choices. If I were given a choice between plain salad and fried corn bread, I probably would not make the healthier choice either. This is why our intellectual farmers and government need to step up and make the choices for the cows. Cows like how corn taste, but the cows aren't smart enough to know that eating corn is making them sick (which is why they are in turn fed antibiotics and hormones-that eventually become part of the hamburger you get at McDonalds). The cows aren't smart enough to know this, but we now are.

posted by MsMillion on April 9, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

64 out of 98 people found this review helpful.

Readers Must Protest -- Price Too High, Lousy Sample

Once again, eBook readers are being taken advantage of. An additional eBook costs publishers nothing to sell, and the marginal costs of the sale to B&N are negligible.

Yet the eBook price for this book ($12.99) is 40% MORE than the paperback ($9.19).

Too, as ment...
Once again, eBook readers are being taken advantage of. An additional eBook costs publishers nothing to sell, and the marginal costs of the sale to B&N are negligible.

Yet the eBook price for this book ($12.99) is 40% MORE than the paperback ($9.19).

Too, as mentioned by others below, the "sample" is useless...only a page of actual writing...the rest of the 15 pages being TOC, reviews, and filler pages. No chance at all to see the author's writing style or examine his logic and depth of research.

Still, the book does have some good reviews.

The solution I've decided on, and hope other eBook readers will adopt. is to check out a copy from my local library--electronic or hardcopy.

That way, I get all the information the author has to offer, and the publishers, author, and bookseller get no additional revenue.

If enough eBook readers boycott publishers that take advantage of them, B&N might have enough leverage to negotiate more reasonable prices for their eBooks.

posted by BillonKauai on June 25, 2011

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Page 2 of 17
  • Posted September 14, 2011

    Worthless.

    Why anyone would ever want to read this is beyond my ability to understand. This book is poorly written and researched.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Eye Opening

    Michael Pollen continues to educate us on the journey of our food till we purchase it. The information helps us be better consumers but also enlightens us on just how important it is for us to be aware of the foods we are eating. It forces us to make decisions on how connected we want to be with the environment and what we consume. I have found that this book is motivating me to learn more about the role of government in our foods and about what I can do to help us get back to healthy food and how to help our environment. The Future of Food and Food, Inc. are two movies that reinforce what the author is trying to explain.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2007

    Fascinating, educational, and thought provoking overview of agribusiness and eating

    This fascinating and exceptionally well written book provides an easy to follow, yet highly educational overview of agribusiness and multiple related topics. It starts with the idea of the Omnivore's Dilemma: if you can eat almost anything, what should you eat? From there it describes how corn and soybeans have become dominant, how modern farms work, the multiple problems created by the standard industrial food chain, and how the organic food movement tries (but mostly fails) to do better. Along the way we see: * The extreme cruelty and suffering that is inflicted on farm animals (its far worse than you think it is). * The environmental and health problems created by our industrial food chain. * The organic food movement explored and some of its frauds and deceits exposed. * The moral issues involved in eating flesh. Presented as a fascinating and easy to follow journey, this book contains a wealth of information and deep insight. Highly recommended!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2008

    At the risk of hyperbole, this book may change your life....

    I'm not kidding. I and 2 other friends around the state read this book without knowing the others were doing so. All 3 of us have changed the way we buy food. And that is the greatest thing about it - you can take some action relatively easily. As a book it gets draggy at points, especially in the final chapters, but overall it is well written. But more important than the qulaity of the writing is the subject matter itself which is vital - the disconnection that has taken place between food and nature and it's impact on mankind. By tracking food from it's source to our table, Mr. Pollan exposes just how little we know about what we eat. Think you're doing something good by choosing free range chicken? Just wait until you read exactly what that label means. This is a book you may not enjoy reading as much as you NEED to read it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    Mind opening!

    This book will make you think, may make you ill, and possibly make you change the way you look at food.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Interesting book! Everyone should read it to see the dark side to our food.

    Hi. Everyone should read it. It will change the way u think. Tottatly mind-blowing!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2013

    Thought-provoking

    Well-written and mostly interesting, sometimes even compelling book about where our food comes from and what it really takes to get it to us. One section about two-thirds of the way through felt kind of draggy and preachy, but then it picked up again. I've rcommended this book to my book club.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    What everyone should know!!!

    Fascinating and frightening!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Disappointed

    How many times will this happen? I expected an exerpt that would entice me to buy the book. Instead I got the first few pages. Editor names, chapter titles, etc. BIG DISAPPOINTMENT.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

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    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Cool

    I think we have this and another book by him in another fifth grade classroom

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2012

    Both interesting and disturbing.

    Pollan does not play around. He delivers the facts rather bluntly, yet he does so in a voice that is friendly.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2012

    Highly recommend

    This book makes you think deeply about food choices. I find myself thinking as I go through Trader Joe's, where does this come from. Who is really the source of this food. You won't think of food the same! Thank goodness!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2012

    Fantastic Read!

    I'm a Paleo and while this book doesn't directly address Paleo (the author doesn't address the pros/cons of humans eating grains, for example), it does a very good job of addressing many aspects that paleos share with other alternative-eating philosophies such as: local, organic, free-range, etc.

    I was amazed by the 50-pages solely of references the author includes combined with the fact that this isn't a purely academic book -- the author actually made the effort to spend 1 week living the life of the "farmer" in each of the 4 food-chains he explores (those being, in order: industrial, big-organic, small-organic, hunter-gatherer). I just think this author did an amazing job at making an interesting read filled with tons of validated and sourced info while being as fair and honest to each of the 4 methodologies as one could ask for.

    Yes, mostly he vilified industrial and big organic -- but he did take the time to mention the up-side to both of those methods and make sure the reader understand that for all of their down-sides they do offer something of value (though, arguably not as much as the gain offered by the other 2 approaches).

    Oh, and in case you're wondering, he doesn't recommend the hunter-gatherer method either; by the end of the book you have to conclude he's settled mostly on little-organic (think, small local, organic farm).

    Honestly, if you're wondering why all the hype about corn-fed cows being bad for you or you're sold on organic but wondering why some alternative-eaters still don't consider it good enough, this is the book.

    On the other hand, if you already understand that meat isn't evil and that there are huge benefits to buying from your neighborhood farmer who cares about raising a happy animal without using a bunch of chemicals, this is sure to be of little revelation to you.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2012

    I never would of thought that corn is in many foods that I eat.

    I never would of thought that corn is in many foods that I eat. If you want to know what it is your food, you should really read this book. This book informs you about how your food is made and where it comes from. If you had no idea about food at all, this is the book that you need to read. The book has different paces but, you will understand it after you are done reading it. This book is really helpful if you have any questions about agriculture.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    Good Information!

    Very interesting, but a slow read for me. The technical terms that were used weren't part of MY everyday vocabulary so that slowed me down a bit. However, the summary of information was fascinating!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2011

    Good info

    Read this, all you human beings!
    Think about what you put into your bodies. You are in total control of what you feed yourself. This determines what you think, what you feel, and your health and well-beiing. BE MINDFUL. Know what goes into you.
    There are very good choices to make.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2011

    Great fovus on the problems on modern American dietary consumption!

    Read this book to gain an idea of why we as Americans are failing to live heathly lives while consuming the "fast food" brought about through corporations with a "machine-focus." Just purchase the book and skip the sample & you'll have it in a format that keeps your nightstand lightly burdened.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2011

    If u like meet dont read that

    If u like meet dont read this book my 8th grade class had to read this and half the school doesent eat meat

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Changed my eating habits forever.

    When you understand how much crap we put in our bodies under the guise of eating healthy, you will be disgusted.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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