The Omnivore’s Dilemma explores on three major principles of food chains namely: the organic, the hunter-gatherer and the industrial. Fiction and fantasy are good sources of pleasure, but when any literature deviates from this conventional form of prose to tackle societal issues, people take it seriously and undertake to evaluate its contents keenly. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book written by Michael Pollan is one of the books whose contents have generated a huge public discourse. Michael Pollan breaks the novel into three major parts all dealing with food market sector. In the opening of the book, Pollan explains the core omnivore dilemma by providing an analysis of industrial food process basically the processing of corn, and all the aspects, sources and history of corn. Nonetheless, this paper highlights on numerous issues such as socioeconomic that Pollan chooses to address in his book. The issues are how corn plant that produces “The Meal”, which is the “fast food”, came to dominate the American diet via political, cultural, economical and biological factors.
To begin with, Pollan highlights on the process of food production where numerous American meals originate namely corn. Troy affirms that according to Pollan, the industrialized food chain fundamentally originates from corn. Some are processed into substances or compounds like glucose, livestock feeds, and eaten directly by human beings. To expound on this point, the author says that corn is became and still is in American’s diet in form of fast food via opinionated, cultural and genetical factors. Some of these factors push the author to determine whether people should still focus on using corn or not. In addition, these factors are some of the things that the author learns after visiting numerous industries to ascertain that in deed corn is used to manufacture “fast food.” On his visit, he explains how corn depends on human for its survival, more so through human fostering. This visit helps the author to understand the nature in which corn has played a vital role in US food sector. The author also affirms that everyone should agree with him that the beginning of the food chain is the corn. This is because corn feeds animals we eat their meat, and the eggs or milk. In this regard, the author argues that the “cob and husk arrangement …. renders the plant absolutely reliant for its endurance…” (Pollan 26-27). In addition, the author also highlights on the role that oil or juice produced from the plants contribute greatly to other factors like crop growing and haulage of the food delivery to American markets.
He contends that the American population does not know what to eat for dinner anymore. They are faced with many choices most of which are hard to make. Pollan is confident that if it not for the technology that broke the seasonal availability of some foods, then this problem would not have been experienced. The central theme of the book is that numerous issues need to be addressed by guarding the economical well being of the American people.
Pollan presents evidence-based analysis of how technological advancements have altered the 19th and early 20th century food chains, and practices to culminate into an eating dilemma (Pollan 10). It is true as Pollan puts the argument that omnivores are the most unselective eaters in the entire realm of living things. However, on the onset, I disagree on the next assertion he makes that this poses a huge dilemma on what to eat. With a sane mind, even small kids can ascertain that variety of choice tends to skew chosen items to be the best. Consequently, having a variety of choices is not a bad thing at all; it should be taken as a positive development towards democracy in eating!
Pollan argues that the ancient cultural practices had made the society eat foods only when their season was due (Pollan 16). This solved the problem of choice according to his evidence-based analysis on society and corn based food chain. I would like to point out that the increased rate of global warming has culminated into a drastic change in climatic conditions across the globe; this has altered the seasonal nature of foodstuffs and in some areas has led to drying up of agricultural lands. If it were not for the technology and enhanced transportation to preserve the already produced food, make more artificial foods, and transport them to other destinations, then the 21st century society would be held at ransom by the climatic changes taking place.
Secondly, the author beautifully uses the fast food meal to illustrate or explain the final product of the industrialized food products. Critical of the industrialized reproduction of agriculture, Pollan provides a description of how controlled modernization like the development of the Haber procedure in nitrogen fixation played a role in overview of farming. He further argues that long ago, farmers used their cultural knowhow, however, presently most farmers use “intelligence and local knowledge” (Pollan 220). This is a move that has leaves farmers with little options since most of their products are taken to the laboratories, which according to Pollan, is an unenthusiastic development. He further advices that localized agriculture can act as a remedy to environmental and health issues, which are caused by contemporary farming methods.
Still in chapter seven, the author also studies about the feedlot, whereby he observes the conditions through which a steer is kept prior to slaughter. In this process, Pollan clarifies that the steer is fed a corn-based diet and is detrimental to herbivores animals. In addition, he portends that unnatural diet detracts from the nutritional value that meat produces from the steer, despite the quality of life that such animals lead. Pollan affirms that antibiotics produced in those feedlots contribute greatly to microbes that are drug resistant, which are avoidable through the use of natural products (Pollan, 78). All these are used in processing fast food that is consumed by many of the Americans. All he calls for is that the food processing industries consider following the right process in processing food for human consumption, and in the process treat the animals appropriately.
Thirdly, when Pollan endeavors to use ingredients he has hunted, grown, or gathered in preparation of his meal. In this instance, the author feels that using the traditional methods of processing food or hunting and gathering favors human beings, and the same time ensure that wild animals are not mistreated. In efforts to ensure that this process is successful, he hires a helper from local foodies, who trains him on how to gather non toxic mushrooms, look for abalone, and hunt undomesticated pigs. He is also enlightened on how to make salad from greens from his farm, prepare dessert using cherries, and bake sourdough bread from wild yeast. When preparing and serving food using gathered and hunted products, Pollan ponders about the ethical perspective, which is a relic of human culture (325). To this point, Pollan concludes that,
“If our concern is for the health of nature – rather than, say, the internal consistency of our moral code or the condition of our souls – then eating animals may sometimes be the most ethical thing to do” (327).
In line with the above assertion made by the author, he justifies it by indicating that although killing an animal is wrong, it may also contribute to the endurance of the entire species. In his argument, he further affirms that humans are responsible for controlling the populace of other organisms or other species. He says that eliminating meat from human diet will likely cause overpopulation for other species. He adds that the life of such animals should be treated humanely prior to their slaughter, which is not the case presently in the American meat industry. Pollan further concludes by highlighting on how untenable and illusory the fast food products delivered to consumers and the hunter-gatherer products are. This is because the author understands that historically, human being knew the sources of their food and hoe it was delivered to consumers and its cost. He advises that it is vital that human being go back to their traditional ways and avoid industrialized products.
It is noteworthy that when offering a criticism of the food industry, advertisers, the government, we must not turn the process through which food reaches our table to a dysfunctional enterprise. Pollan humorously through placidness, civility and determination, makes an observation that modern farming is at war with the present needs of human beings. He explains this through highlighting on the how the government have rebelled against scientific practices and the manner in which consumers have been misinformed and they only know that food is for enjoyment rather than a human basic need.
It is agreeable that fast foods and most forms of diets in the present day society are making people fatter leading to obesity, but it is still true that these foods have not deprived these people of the power to limit the amounts to eat. Moreover, these people have the power to choose diets with fewer fats. This means that initial indications of overweight should inform their choices for other diets or even participating in intensive physical exercises. In my opinion, The Omnivore’s Dilemma presents real life issues, but the inclination towards presenting conventional wisdom as incorrect is not founded on facts.
To conclude, Omnivore’s Dillema basically talks of the “meal” which is probably “fast food”. This is something that has always improved the economy of America, while at the same time destroying the social lives of people who are vital in the economical development. It is vital for fast food industries to use ingredients that are not harmful to consumers to fulfill the wishes of Michael Pollan (Troy 1). The amount of corn used must also be minimized to ensure that people slow down the intake of corn products. In addition, consumers must also reduce the intake of fast food and consider having going back to our traditional ways or practices with the aim of saving other species and our environment in general (Troy 2). To this end, it is essential to ensure that “The Meal” that forms that basis of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in which Pollan traces the industrial food chain, we are better of using naturally produced good. Yet, having known how omnipresent corn has become in America, it is essential to use corn appropriately among other products. All in all, political, cultural and biological factors must be put into consideration to ensure that corn is utilized appropriately.