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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 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 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 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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  • 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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  • 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 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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  • 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 January 7, 2011

    Who knew corn could be interesting?

    Pollan is a great writer, to be sure. He has a knack for telling a story in a way that captures my interest despite my predisposed disinterst in the subject. This book was educational and thought provoking. Be warned, you may never look at food or the government the same afted reading this.

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  • Posted July 6, 2010

    What's for dinner?

    If you found the film Food, Inc. fascinating and horrifying at the same time, you will find this book absorbing and informative. Pollan is a gifted writer who makes seemingly boring subjects, such as corn and petrochemicals, very interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent read - but could be 100 pages shorter

    I highly recommend the book - though for me - the entire last section of the book became overkill. Despite this, the author's research, perspective, and writing are excellent. His tracing of our food - prior to hitting our dinner table is fascinating - and well researched. His book has reinforced my already blossoming wish - to eat more 'whole' foods.
    I think he presents a balanced picture - noting that Whole Foods isn't free from guilt either. The author's case study on Polyface farms presents a very interesting case study.

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  • Posted June 13, 2009

    Enlightening

    Told in a research/storytelling way, he educates the reader and eater as to where the food is coming from. You can draw your own conclusions on ethical, moral, and practical choices of eating after reading it. I read a chapter and put it down then read another etc. It is very thought provoking. It was recommended to be by a zen monk to read.

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An excellent book on the subject, second only to "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"

    An interesting book; I see now that Pollan was a major source of inspiration for Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." Sadly for Pollan, this is one of those rare cases where the remake is better than the original. Pollan's writing is well-informed and clear. You can tell he knows what he's talking about. Like Kingsolver, he weaves his personal experiences through the story. Kingsolver's book was based on those personal experiences, while Pollan's tend to take a backseat to his discussions about our food and it's origins. That's not to say the book wasn't interesting, just that perhaps it ran a little too long--I plowed through the first 100 pages in a day but took a week to read the last 100. I'd recommend it, and I might check out his newer book, but if you're only going to read one book on this subject, read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" instead

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 18, 2010

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    Posted July 8, 2009

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    Posted June 18, 2010

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    Posted August 5, 2011

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    Posted February 21, 2010

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    Posted March 5, 2009

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