Free «Research Paper on the Omnivore’s Dilemma» Essay Sample

Published in the year 2006, Michael Pollan’s book, Omnivore’s Dilemma captures greater attention from the public since it has a topic that affects human beings in the current world. Pollan explains that before man confronted this dilemma, he had already had a solution. He argues out that modern food preservation and transportation techniques are what have led to the dilemma, unlike previously when there were no sophisticated food processing and preservation techniques as well as effective transportation that lead to availability of foodstuffs throughout the year. However, the book has also raised some questions which researchers need to investigate in order to establish the truth about Pollan’s ideas.

For instance, is it true that organic farming leads to higher transportation requirements? Is it true that the corn industry is just a mess of junks? What about his suggestion that simple hunting and gathering will be the solution to the dilemma? From these ideas, the paper aims at proposing a research question. This research question will be answered after carrying out a research concerning the view of Michael Pollan towards food consumption, and the peoples’ view concerning the same.



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Research question

Should individuals be restrained from consuming polluted non-organic (conventional) food?

Working thesis statement

The working thesis statement is whether individuals should be refrained from eating non-organic (conventional) foods (Pollan, 2006). There have been several cases of individuals consuming such foods.  Recently, most people are flocking in the market to by non-organic foods commonly referred to as conventional foods. In definition, organic foods are grown in soil which is safe. There is no use of chemical while growing these crops and the seeds are not altered prior to planting (Pollan, 2006). Nutritionally, non-organic foods are far much better compared to conventional food. This though has not prevented the people from using conventional foods. Conventional foods are in most cases polluted. This is more so because of the use of fertilizer as well as chemicals during their growth. There is thus a need to restrain people from consuming conventional foods. They should instead be encouraged to consume organic food.

The research question, which is also the thesis statement, is: should individuals refrain from eating organic foods due to higher chances of environmental pollution as a result of transportation? This research question is a matter that is currently affecting food consumption behavior. Currently, individuals are flocking to the food industry demanding organic foods as opposed to other types of food. On the other side, people are concerned with environmental pollution as a result of carbon emission. Therefore, the question will raise more topics in line with environmental pollution as well as organic farming. 

Research plan

The research will be carried out in major cities of California State. These cities are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose. The research data will be drawn from Pollan’s work, Pollan, M. (2006): The omnivore's dilemma: a natural history of four meals, Jian’s work. It will first of all obtain advantages of organic foods as well as “hunting andIdentity and technology: Organizational control of knowledge-intensivework gathering among other work. Study population will be individuals who practice organic farming, those who prepare that food, environmental groups, as well as those who consume organic food. A sample size of 500 individuals will be used during the study. Simple random sampling technique will be used for selecting individuals for this study. Data will be collected using oral interview and questionnaire. Respondents will be asked short open ended questions in order to grasp individuals’ thinking without minimizing them to researcher’s own thinking (Hyman, 2008). It will also include a proposal by Pollan on whether they prefer Pollan’s way of eating to organic farming.

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The choice of interviewees backs the concept of meta-analysis in a way that sources of information are from different backgrounds and social set up (Jian, 2008). This can easily enable a researcher to find a true representation of the whole population since different groups have a different experience with the question of food, and how they take organic foods.  The research will also allow a responded to give his or her solution to the current crisis of environmental pollution and healthy eating.  Research will be carried out in one phase within one month. This is because it aims at capturing people’s thinking at that particular time.  Personal preferences as well, as human thinking change from time to time; therefore, it is essential to capture thinking at one particular time. Data will be collected and analyzed using statistical tools, which will then give the feedback concerning the research question. Data analysis will be by SPSS. 

Research outline

For the introduction, I plan to ascertain that organic foods are far much better than conventional food thus people should be refrained from consuming conventional food. This though has not been the case. Instead, people consume organic food more often than they do consume organic food (Gardiner, 2013). Research has shown that consumption of conventional food pose the risk of getting various illnesses. This is because of high level of environmental pollution. Such food is grown in soil which is already polluted (Pollan, 2006). If such trend continues, most people will develop various complications in their body. There is thus a need to encourage people consume organic food.

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Analysis of Data

The data found in this research will then be used to formulate hypotheses concerning consumption of organic foods and industrial foods. The hypotheses will then be tested to ascertain if people agree with Pollan’s ideology. The outcome of the research will provide a possible solution of the current dilemma in the food industry. It will answer the question whether organic foods are not as healthy as we think, or are not expensive as we think. The result of the research will further influence consumers’ purchasing behavior concerning foodstuffs. It will specify whether humans are to continue with industrial foods, (corn), shift to organic foods or go, further, back to hunting and gathering for quality foods.

Steps taken to ensure validity and reliability of data

To ensure that the data will be valid and reliable, the researcher will select samples in a random way. These samples will be from different social background. The researcher will then combine meta-analysis and triangulation in the analysis of data. This will enable the researcher to use more than one method in analyzing the data by combining data collected from interviews, questionnaires and what was observed.

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Ways each of the methodological approaches serves the respective research purpose

The methodological approach will serve its purpose. Since the researcher wants to get information about eating habits and how people take on Pollan’s ideology, interview as a method of data collection will help in gaining real experience from people, all of them being consumers of food. Interviews and questionnaires will help gather facts other than general knowledge from individuals and prior studies that might have been overtaken by circumstances.

First Solution

The first solution to the Omnivore’s dilemma is proposed by Hyman in his book, ‘The UltraMind solution’. Hyman proposes that individuals should not eat too much food. They should mostly eat plants (Hyman, 2008).  This notion is also supported by Gardner from his work on comparing raw garlic and commercial supplements. In his work, Gardner shows that eating raw garlic resulted to in blood cholesterol level (Gardner, Solutions to the Omnivore’s Dilemma). Individuals should eat real, whole food that comes from the earth such as fresh vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, herbs and spices. They should also eat lean meat that come from fish and chicken. He proposes that people should avoid junk foods just as proposed by Pollan. Hyman claims that the reason behind this solution is that fresh vegetables and whole grains have detoxifying compounds as well as healing compounds. They also contain fiber that helps to normalize the digestive systems and slow down the absorption of sugar fats into the body. This helps in keeping the body balanced.

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Second Solution

The second solution to the dilemma is brought forward by Gardner. Gardner proposes that individuals should eat foods that are locally produced. This helps in cutting down the carbon footprint emitted during transportation of food from one region to another (Gardner, Solutions to the Omnivore’s Dilemma).Gardner insists that local foods even taste better, builds the local economy and uses few resources to avail to customers. Even though not all kinds of foods can be produced locally, Gardner suggests that it is noble for consumers to be aware of where their food is coming from.

Call to action

Consumption of food is no longer just about health. It is about many perspectives that are changing in the current world. These perspectives are the changing social norms. When economic, political, ethical or global climate are considered, the tendency of them pointing towards one food type is quite high. It is essential for every individual to focus on food sustainability. In order to ensure that there is food sustainability, individuals have to promote foods that are produced using healthy and socially responsible methods. Methods that do not cause harm to the environment, support local farming, and are humane to animals. Thus it is necessary for consumers to know much of what they are eating (Allport, 2000).


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