7 min read ⌚
A Natural History of Four Meals
In a world of choice, what should you eat?
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” reveals the truth behind contemporary food production.
Who Should Read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and Why?
“Organic” is nowadays the “talk of the town”. Many people are going vegetarian or even vegan, since they do not support the ways meat and plants are produced.
Another group of omnivore people believe that this is just a trend, and that it does not have a point.
However, these people have a strong reason to stand against meat. Animals are kept in harsh conditions, and are treated as less than machines.
But plans are also being pumped with chemicals, which are bad for our health.
We recommend “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” to all readers who want to know more about food, where it comes from, and how the world’s food industry became as it is today.
About Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan is an author, journalist and a professor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma PDF Summary”
Humans are omnivores, and as such, can eat many different animals and plants.
This capability leads to what is called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”: in a world full of choices, how do we know what is good for us to eat?
A long time ago, when people were hunters and gatherers, this dilemma did not exist: they ate whatever they could find: either seasonal foods that grew near their homes or animals they could hunt in the wild.
However, today we face a different problem.
The advancements in technology have made it easy to produce and transport food on long distances and unconnected to seasons, which makes the number of meals available to us uncountable.
Hence, the omnivore’s dilemma is stronger than ever, since we have to put thought into what we should choose for each meal we have in the day.
The wish to satisfy all human cravings (and to create new ones) has resulted in diverse food and food surplus as we have never seen it before.
Some of these meals are cheap, some are taste, some are healthy, and some are environment-friendly.
So, how do we know which choice is the best for us?
Well, let us tell you the downsides of such mass-production.
During the 20s of the previous century, farmers adopted crop hybridization, which assured them that they would have a much bigger yield.
The most important plant that changed the overall consumption was corn.
Corn is naturally very robust and adaptable. On top of that, with the adoption of new technologies, corn production boomed.
That was, as you would have already concluded, a big problem since buyers no longer wanted to pay the price that was enough to cover the expenses of producing corn.
As the supply soared, the government had to land a helping hand and subsidize the farmers, since they were to lose a dollar on every bushel of produced corn.
When such subsidies exist, the efficient system of demand and supply no longer works. And then, no one gets the right data from the market, so the wrong calculations are being made.
The profits the farmers made were artificial, and they could not see that the prices of corn were dropping. As a result, they continued producing more corn and pushed the prices even more.
Soon, the world faced a big corn surplus that it did not know what to do with.
Soon, the food and farming industry found the solution.
The food industry added this surplus in processed foods and created corn syrup.
You may have known that the surplus is used in processed foods, but that does not stop there.
Corn is also used as food for farm animals that we later eat.
This is yet another problem, and animal rights activists fight against it.
Farmers can now produce food on a larger scale, for a shorter time, by using different machines and industrial-farming techniques.
Industrial farming has also made the raising of animals and meat-production incredibly easy and cheap.
And there are some people that think that this is a good thing.
But it is far from it.
Animals nowadays are treated like machines that produce dairy, meat or eggs, and are fed corn so they can get fat and big faster.
However, this is not healthy meat – it is sellable and full of antibiotics and chemicals.
If you are interested in how cruel animals are treated, just watch some documentary on industrial farming. You will see a huge amount of livestock cramped in small spaces, kept in inhumane ways.
Today, meat is so cheap that you can eat it every day if you wished to do that. However, how healthy is it really?
Another thing that industrial farming is doing is creating diseases and pollution in the environment.
Industrial farms are pumping antibiotics into the animals so they can keep them alive in the bad conditions they keep them in.
This is the reason why so many “superbugs” are evolving, and are becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Just think about what such diseases can do to the human population as well.
There were cases of the pig flu and the bird flu. Do you remember how many people died of just a small epidemic outbreak?
Then, let us not forget about the water contamination problem.
The hormones and heavy metals industrial farmers use to feed their animals go into the fertilizer that the animals produce – and then go into the water.
This is the way that E. coli can be spread.
Also, did you know that more than half of the pollution in the world does not come from the automobile industry, or from factories, but from the cows in the U.S.?
When I read this fact, I did not know what to think or say. We eat all of this food happy that we bought it cheap, but we never think about the process behind it.
We never consider the bigger consequences we pay.
The same process is used for plants as well. To be able to grow plants in not-ideal conditions, farmers need to spray them with different fertilizers and chemicals.
How else would it be possible for you to eat strawberries during winter, and to buy a whole bag of perfectly healthy tomatoes?
Do you know that saying: do not eat what does not rot?
Well, once I read this book, I am planning to take it more seriously.
But what is the alternative?
In a world full of choices there must be one, right?
Yes, there is. It is organic farming, which produces meat and plants the right, natural way.
Of course, since mass production is impossible – organic farming means letting the products grow in their natural pace, organic farming products are much more expensive.
But, think about it for a moment.
In the name of mass production, humanity pollutes the water and air, treats animals unethically, and spreads different diseases.
You may need a few bucks now, but what about the years to come?
In the end, it is your choice. Is it better to pay a little more for organic products from time to time, or suffer the consequences of industrial farming many years to come?
We are certain you will choose well.
What we are worried about is the rest of the world.
Since, as long as there is demand for industrially produced produce, the supply will be there.
So, what would you suggest we do?
How about we start small – we raise the awareness of people that surround us.
That is certainly small, but a powerful first step toward a better tomorrow.
Key Lessons from “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”
1. Why is Corn Everywhere
2. The Conditions Animals are Raised In
3. The Fixed Stomach Problem
Why is Corn Everywhere
America notes an immense corn surplus. There is far more corn than the population can eat, so corn is reproduced to create “hydrogenated fat” or “high fructose syrup.”
It is also used for food for farm animals.
These new uses of corn prove very profitable for the industry.
The Conditions Animals are Raised In
Animals are kept in unethical conditions, which they can bear to survive only by being pumped with antibiotics.
However, overusing antibiotics can lead to the creation of superbugs which are antibiotic-resistant, which can pose a threat to humanity as well.
The Fixed Stomach Problem
The biggest problem of the industry is the fixed stomach problem.
In other words, people have a limited capability of eating, and to grow the industry needs to find a way either people to eat more than that or to spend more on the same amount of food.
So, eating is no longer just a way that people survive but becomes a way whole industries survive.
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“The Omnivore’s Dilemma Quotes”The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways… Click To Tweet So that's us: processed corn, walking. Click To Tweet Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do. Click To Tweet When chickens get to live like chickens, they'll taste like chickens, too. Click To Tweet But that's the challenge -- to change the system more than it changes you. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” promises to tell you how you can eat better, by sharing the origins of the food you feed your body with.
It is an eye opener that anyone should read!