Customer Reviews for

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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

24 out of 27 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2011

    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 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.

    64 out of 98 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    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 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.

    24 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2011

    I just have a gripe...

    I haven't read the book yet, I just wanted a sample to read first to see if I would like it before I purchased it. 14 pages of quotes from critics and 1 page of actual writing does not a sample make. I'm sure I'll read it at some point and like it, but that just bugged me.

    23 out of 45 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    SECOND HELPINGS, ANYONE?

    As we are reminded, humans are the only beings that have such a vast plethora of choices when it comes to food. After all, squirrels chatter happily upon finding a nut and a robin tugs determinedly on a worm. But, just think of our menu - vegetarian, fast food, frozen dinners, blender whirled energy drinks, everything from Tootsie Roll Pops to tofu. And therein, according to author Michael Pollan lies our dilemma. He posits that deciding what we will eat is an inevitable cause for anxiety. And, nowhere he continues are there more anxious people than in our country. We suffer from what he refers to as 'our national eating disorder,' citing such roller coaster effects as diet crazes, the avoidance of a specific food because it has been deemed bad for us, and the fact that obesity is on the rise from shore to shore. Pollan is both intrepid and amusing as he details why the question of what we should put in front of us has become so complex. Dividing his narrative into three parts, he escorts listeners on a walk through each of the food chains that keep us going - industrialized food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage for ourselves. We go to an Iowa cornfield, to a farm in Virginia and, yes, to those golden arches, MacDonalds. Along the way we follow the trail of what we eat from its source to our tables. With intensive research and entertaining prose Pollan (The Botany of Desire) has created a fascinating look at the truth found in we are what we eat. Scott Brick delivers an animated easy-to-listen-to voice performance. As always, he's one of the best audio book readers to be found today. Listen to this and then tuck into your supper! - Gail Cooke

    22 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2011

    Ebook costs more than the paperback.

    Ebook costs more than the paperback.

    17 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 11, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Book Resulting In Change...

    Never in my wildest imagination did I think that a book, of which a fourth is dedicated to the history and current usage of corn, would be so enjoyable. Pollan makes a seemingly dry subject exciting and interesting. He presents the argument for conscientious eating without beating the reader over the head with morality. This book really will change the way you view food.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Highly recommended for everyone who eats.

    This is a wonderful book. I have already purchased four additional copies and given them to family and friends. The first few chapters are a little disturbing, but stick with it because each chapter is different from the one before. Sometimes we might feel more comfortable in blissful ignorance, but it is important for everyone to understand the current state of our food supply. The way meat, grains, and vegetables are produced right now in America is decidedly unsustainable.
    I found Mr. Pollan's writing style to be engaging. I also was pleased with the way he dealt with the issue of vegetarianism. It is a very personal decision, and I felt the book was honest and straightforward, but in no way coercive. He does not endorse a particular lifestyle in this book, but gives the reader a lot of information to help each of us make our own choices.

    10 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    ebook costs more?!

    Why does the ebook cost more than the print? This doesn't make sense.

    9 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2011

    really bad sample

    The way the sample was done prompted me to go directly to the library and save my money on this purchase. If I were Michael Pollan, I would demand a real sample or none at all.

    9 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    Thoughtful and thought-provoking read for anyone who eats.

    This affected my eating and food shopping choices more fundamentally than any fitness or diet book or article that I can remember.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2007

    Thought provoking unfortunately vague on numbers

    Mr. Pollan does a great job of looking at our food production system in the United States and asks some very pertinent questions about it. Unfortunately, he mixes entirely too much philosophy and opinion with science. For example, he states that no adverse effects have been noted with the use of growth hormone in milk production. He then goes on to say that this may be because we do not have sophisticated enough instruments to measure those adverse effects and therefore it should not be used. Thankfully he is not in charge of the FDA. 'We are sorry we cannot approve your new drug because even though we found no adverse effects in our test subjects, when we invent more sophisticated testing equipment we may find adverse effects.' Secondly, Mr. Pollan has some major issues when it comes to economic analysis. He at one time states that an economic curve he has discovered is 'true.' Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of economics knows that truth and economic analysis are not exactly related. He also contends at one point that when corn became inexpensive prior to prohibition it led to massive drunkeness. This being caused by corn whiskey being quite inexpensive. He correlates this to food being cheap today and causing obesity. Yet he doesn't address the fact that the wealthiest in our country have the lowest levels of obesity. If price is a factor shouldn't these numbers be reversed? Finally, Mr. Pollan never really gives any concrete numbers on food production and human population. He gives this warm, fuzzy feeling about organics but never states what global production could be in this mode and how this relates to human population.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2006

    Okay and interesting, but drags in some places

    I try to eat healthy, so I thought this book would be a great choicefor some summer reading. I like Pollan's approach, tracing three different meals back to their origins, but I thought the book really dragged in some places. The part where the author goes over the ethics of meat eating was very dry and seemed to take fifty pages when it probably could have been said in four. However, the information about industrial corn and the conflict between organic and 'big organic', and the trials of trying to create a totally sustainable meal are very enlightening. This is a book everyone could benefit from reading, and while it didn't manage to make me a vegetarian or a vegan, I definitely will have some reservations about frequenting fast food places and supermarkets (even good ol' Whole Foods) after finishing this. I would recommend this to people interested in food and industry, and the scary American obesity trend. However, as I said, there are some places where this book really drags, and the ending is a little too utopian. Hopefully though, people will be willing to give this book a go and learn a bit among the way.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Baf

    A total load of horse hockey. Its just the cause du jour to trash everything. Wouldnt believe anything this author writes as he is just pushing his opinion.

    3 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another great read by Michael Pollan!

    I read Pollan's "In Defense of Food" first and was absolutely blown away by his approach to the culture, philosophy, economics, and science of food and the Western Diet.

    Pollan's research is impeccable, and he presents the facts in a way that is both accessible and interesting, without laying blame on the reader/consumer of the omnivore's diet for doing what we do. "The Omnivore's Dilemma" is a much longer, and in some ways, more challenging read than "In Defense of Food", but it's well-worth the investment. If nothing else, you'll learn a heck of a lot about the science, biology, and agriculture of corn and corn products.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2010

    "Food" will never be the same.

    EGE, 6th McIntyre.

    As I trailed Michael Pollan's book, disgust for America's food network was established. I knew there had to be something wrong with McDonalds and every fast-food restaurant out there, but of course hardly anyone "truly understands it". "We get what we pay for" has become something that America has not yet realized. Pollan however, proved this fact over and over again, which became somewhat of a wake-up call to me.

    It's been a ritual for me to always check out the calorie and fat content on the labels, but this book has changed my entire outlook on food. I require myself to be aware of every ingredient, and to pick and choose wisely. And by reading this book, I hope to never again experience the "Omnivore's Dilemma" as I discover more about what I should be eating.

    The quality of Pollan's research and experiences are not easily summarized, but I'm sure that most people will agree that it was well worth the time to read this book. This is a "MUST read" for every American, and there is no excuse not to be aware of the threat of our American food.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2009

    Very enlightening

    Having recently moved to a once fruitful farm area of Washington State, I have become inspired to learn more our food supply. Pollan's book is an excellent place to start and to really inspire me to think about the food choices I make for me and my family.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2008

    opened up my eyes

    This book is incredible. I don't usually like non-fiction but this is too interesting. I will never eat corn fed beef again! It has really made me think of how important it is to be conscious of where your food comes from.Everyone should read this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2008

    if you eat, you need to read this!!

    This is the book I can't stop thinking about or talking about lately. I've been thinking differently about food for a long time, but this takes it to another level. I can't wait for winter to be over so I can mostly abandon supermarket shopping (even Whole Foods is suspect these days with its industrial food shipped thousands of miles) to join one of the CSAs near me. I recommend (I'm tempted to beg, but won't) the reading of this book by anyone who eats. We've all been desensitized to the crap that comes out of a grocery store for $1/lb. Our bodies and communities are yearning for a fellowship with food that isn't fast.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2007

    Good but to wordy!

    The book has a lot of great information. I just think it is way to wordy. Get to the 'FN' point and quit wasting my time

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan is really an exceptiona

    The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan is really an exceptional book! After the first chapter I was sold. If you are a lover of food and you want to know the secrets behind the food we eat I recommend this book. My 9th garde class is reading this book at Archbishop Carroll Highscool. Although after reading this book you might not want to eat your favorite foods again. Pollan shares a lot of secrets and research behind the foods we eat. He shares amazing facts that I found surprising but also expected. He gives you inside tips on where to find your food and what to look for. This book has expanded my knowledge on food. Now, I am constantly reading the back of labels on cereal boxes!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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