In his novel, Michael Pollan addresses the dietary habits of the American population, and the food problem is abounding in today’s American society. In a way, Pollan is attempting to lend a helping hand to his readers discussing the issue of what to have for dinner, and is going to explore the vast range of food paths open to humans in today’s world. In addition, Pollan objectively analyzes the above mechanisms in order to find the right route to wellness, stability and sustainability. The main focus of this analysis are the humans, who unlike other animals are innovative and unselective eaters who consume a wide variety of foods which essentially results in a dilemma. The author suggests that before the invention of the modern food preservation technologies, the dilemma was mainly resolved via cultural influences. Due to these new methods of preservation, foods that would only be available seasonally or occasionally can be preserved and are hence available all year round. This further adds to the already existent dilemma. This review aims critically analyze Pollan’s book and posit that it is by nature’s grace that we get to eat what we do and not because of industry, and therefore we should focus on saving the planet more.
Pollan is a world renowned food expert who is renowned all over the world because of the entertaining way in which he studies pertinent issues regarding the way humans eat. It is because of this that he managed to create a niche for himself as a nonfiction writer. In The Omnivores Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Pollan attempts to address the dilemma that undoubtedly affects the entire American population, that is: as humans, how there are so many dietary options available for consumption but have so little information about what we ought to eat or where the food we so readily consume comes from.
In my opinion, the dilemma in this case is that the American population, from the farmers who cultivate the food for national consumption or the industrialists in the food processing industry, do not arrive at what to cultivate because it presents a healthy option for the American population but because it makes economic sense to cultivate. In his book, Pollan embarks on a journey following the path of the food we eat from its source to its eventual destination in supermarket shelves. For instance, the case of Iowa corn fields is a perfect example of this skewed decision-making system Americans conform to. Corn is the preferable crop for cultivation owing to its photosynthetic efficiency, adaptability, and the fact that its yields are high. As such, this is the root of all the problems with the food Americans consume. People do not cultivate food because it is healthy for consumption but because it is more economically viable. Almost everything on the American diet contains corn, not to mention the diet of even cattle. In essence, profit trumps food quality.
We live in economically strenuous times, and as such, it would make perfect sense that people opt to focus on cultivating the most economical foods such as corn. While this might constitute an economically viable option for farmers, the saturation of one food variety in every meal is not healthy. Furthermore, there are numerous health problems that come as a result of man’s desire to be economically efficient in the production of food. Meat from corn-fed animals is not healthy since it abounds with little omega-3 fatty acids and more saturated fats. Furthermore, a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 might result in heart disease.
I find the author’s approach to be both fresh and engaging. This not only makes the book an intriguing read but also informative because of the way the author articulates his ideas. However, I am of the opinion that the author could have used more food examples other than corn that is popular in the American diet. In addition to this, had the author sought information from food regulatory organizations, he could have gathered more information on some of the challenges they face. The dilemma presented in the book can only be solved if more information is made available to the American public on the reasons why they ought to make healthy food choices, to eat to live and not the other way round. I would recommend Pollan’s book to readers noting that although the book contains some enlightening information, it may not resolve the consumer’s dilemma but create a better understanding of it.