Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Reflections on The Omnivore's Dilemma

On Monday evening I finished reading the last few pages of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. I had had a busy week, so it was good to relax and finally complete it. It was a both an enjoyable and thought-provoking book. I consider it an equal with Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat in terms of its importance.

Dilemma has become a well-talked about book. For example, our weekly alternative newspaper, City Pages, had an article last week, You Are Where You Eat, which discusses some of the Twin City area grocery stores, including Whole Foods. Pollan's experience with shopping and eating food from Whole Foods was one of the four meals discussed in his book.

That experience wasn't highly praised by Pollan, which created some public dialogue between Pollan and Whole Foods' John Mackay. (Some of that discussion is highlighted in the City Pages article.) I think Pollan's critique is important, especially since Whole Foods is a major player in the organic food market.

From a personal standpoint, I appreciate that I had the time to read The Omnivore's Dilemma. I have been made more aware of how my food choices affect the ecosystem. On a practical day-to-day level, it helped me be more appreciative of cooking. Our family's life is often very busy, and I have been taking a more conscious effort in preparing better meals in terms of higher quality ingredients and some presentation to make that family time special.

Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma , family life


Grandpatzer said...

My wife and I liked this book a lot. We are both chemists, so were particulary interested in the science issues.

I've taught "Chemistry and Society" in college, and one of my favorite parts of the course is about energy production, because it's an example of a political issue where there is a lot of room for debate. Omnivore drove home the issue of how much our food supply depends on cheap energy (petroleum). If we don't find alternatives to petroleum before the crunch hits, our food supply system will be in deep doo-doo.

Joe Erjavec said...

I have an undergraduate degree in chemistry, so the energy issues hit home for me, too.

I agree, it is scary just how much we rely on petroleum. I think Pollan's book is partially a wake-up call to grapple with these issues. Whether or not we get stuck is dependent on when we change in relation to when the petroleum supply is in a crunch. That time is unclear, at least to me.