Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: The Omnivore's Dilemma

I haven’t reviewed a book on this blog yet, but I’ve just read one that I think everyone should read. It is called The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollon. It is an examination, or as the book says, the natural history of four meals. Fancy words aside, the book takes a deep look at several of the ways we North Americans eat.

The first area of the book looks at processed food by way of looking at the ubiquitous role corn plays in the food system. The second and third look at factory organic and small organic, while the fourth meal concentrates on foraged and hunted food.

There are a number of things in this volume that should be of interest to those of us involved in preparedness. The first section of the book alone with its look at the lengthy and convoluted supply chains and intensive processing required to create ‘modern’ foods should be a wakeup call with regards to both food security and food quality.

Even the organic ‘factory’ farms get a good look, and while we are all told how much better organic is, you’ll find that it is again a business of a few large corporate entities that are as vulnerable as the conventional food system is to disruption, and only better for the environment in a qualified way.

The third section of the book was of the most interest to me with its look at ‘small’ organic farming. The model under examination attempts to keep outside inputs to a minimum, and seems the most sustainable of the models discussed.

The fourth and final section I found interesting to a lesser degree, but even it had some interesting points to make about the skill sets needed in foraging and hunting.
You aren’t going to find a lot of how-to’s or definitive paths to follow in this book. What you will find is material that may lead you to question how we eat now, and how we may (or may not) eat in the future. It is thought provoking material that challenges some of our basic assumptions about how we produce our food.

If all this book does is make you do something about having a more secure food supply, then it will be well worth the read.

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