Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Natural History of Four
by Michael Pollan, Penguin 2006
Reviewed by Judi Morrel
According to Michael Pollan's book, The
Omnivore's Dilemma, this simple question has a complicated answer,
fraught with ethical and social implications as well as the
standard health and safety concerns.
Pollan, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine
and a journalism professor, traces the history of four meals and
how they were produced: McDonald's take-out from the "big business"
food complex; two organic-chicken meals, one originating from the
national organic industry and one from a local organic farm; and a
wild-pig feast, made with ingredients the author hunted or gathered
himself. Along the way, Pollan indicts the government and the
agribusiness industry for treating animals inhumanely, creating an
unsustainable food production system, subsidizing the production of
certain crops, corn in particular, and wreaking havoc upon the
The phrase "omnivore's dilemma," coined three decades ago by
psychologist Paul Rozin, refers both to the fact that as humans we
can ingest and digest almost any food or food-like product and to
the fact that in today's world our choices have consequences
reaching far beyond what we might expect. Therein lies the rub -
what ought we humans eat when our choices are so vast? Pollan
doesn't offer much in the way of a solution to the dilemma, leaving
that to his subsequent book, In Defense of Food, but his
exceptional research and clear, comfortable writing style will make
you ponder your own choices.
-Judi Morrel is associate professor of mathematics and associate
dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler