I wonder if history will reveal that one of the prime culprits for public health decline is the indiscriminate use of vegetable oils, particularly corn oils and its derivative,high fructose corn syrup. (Perhaps not as quickly as a poisonous mushroom, but just as surely.) Our ingenuity in feeding ourselves is prodigious, but at various points our technologies come into conflict with nature’s ways of doing things, as when we seek to maximize efficiency by planting crops or raising animals in vast monocultures. Air-conditioned, odorless, illuminated by buzzing fluorescent tubes, the American supermarket doesn’t present itself as having very much to do with Nature. This is something nature never does, always and for good reasons practicing diversity instead. Every time a stoma opens to admit carbon dioxide precious molecules of water escape. Though some foods seem more reasonable budget-wise, it is often … By all rights, maize should have shared the fate of that other native species, the bison, which was despised and targeted for elimination precisely because it was “the Indians’ commissary,” in the words of General Philip Sheridan, commander of the armies of the West. Humans still face an abundance of dietary choice, although for different reasons. Valuable as corn is as a means of subsistence, the kernel’s qualities make it an excellent means of accumulation as well. Rather, it’s meant to acknowledge their abiding dependence on this miraculous grass, the staple of their diet for almost nine thousand years. To wash down your chicken nuggets with virtually any soft drink in the supermarket is to have some corn with your corn. 12,75 € Verändere dein Bewusstsein: Was uns die neue Psychedelik-Forschung über Sucht, Depression, Todesfurcht und Transzendenz lehrt Michael Pollan. It appears to have been a perfect media storm of diet books, scientific studies, and one timely magazine article. It had to multiply its yield by an order of magnitude, which it did by learning to grow shoulder to shoulder with other corn plants, as many as thirty thousand to the acre. C-13, for example, has six protons and seven neutrons. Beef people sounds more like it, though nowadays chicken people, which sounds not nearly so good, is probably closer to the truth of the matter. Happy Readings!!! There are things in it that will ruin their appetites. Naturalists regard biodiversity as a measure of a landscape’s health, and the modern supermarket’s devotion to variety and choice would seem to reflect, perhaps even promote, precisely that sort of ecological vigor. The book’s second part follows what I call—to distinguish it from the industrial—the pastoral food chain. MY WAGER in writing The Omnivore’s Dilemma was that the best way to answer the questions we face about what to eat was to go back to the very beginning, to follow the food chains that sustain us, all the way from the earth to the plate—to a small number of actual meals. Cheap food comes with other costs. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. It is more than a figure of speech to say that plants create life out of thin air. Indeed, maize, the one plant without which the American colonists probably would never have survived, let alone prospered, wound up abetting the destruction of the very people who had helped develop it. The initial deposit was made by the retreat of the Wisconsin glacier ten thousand years ago, and then compounded at the rate of another inch or two every decade by prairie grasses—big bluestem, foxtail, needlegrass, and switchgrass. and toward nutritious plants (The red berries are the juicier, sweeter ones). Please try your request again later. What is all this stuff, anyway, and where in the world did it come from? The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Evolution of the Brain and the Determinants of Food Choice. Each of this book’s three parts follows one of the principal human food chains from beginning to end: from a plant, or group of plants, photosynthesizing calories in the sun, all the way to a meal at the dinner end of that food chain. It also analyzes reviews to verify trustworthiness. Yet we are also different from most of nature’s other eaters—markedly so. The surprising answers Pollan offers to the simple question posed by this book have profound political, economic, psychological, and even moral implications for all of us. Bring your club to Amazon Book Clubs, start a new book club and invite your friends to join, or find a club that’s right for you for free. Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma Chapter Summary. And though my journeys did take me to a great many states, and covered a great many miles, at the very end of these food chains (which is to say, at the very beginning), I invariably found myself in almost exactly the same place: a farm field in the American Corn Belt. The result of this innovation has been a vast increase in the amount of food energy available to our species; this has been a boon to humanity (allowing us to multiply our numbers), but not an unalloyed one. You are what you eat, it’s often said, and if this is true, then what we mostly are is corn—or, more precisely, processed corn. The result, says Pollan, is that the omnivore’s dilemma has come back with an “almost atavistic vengeance.” (4) We wander bewildered in the supermarket because we don’t know what to eat. The current thinking among botanists is that several thousand years ago teosinte underwent an abrupt series of mutations that turned it into corn; geneticists calculate that changes on as few as four chromosomes could account for the main traits that distinguish teosinte from maize. Nor would such a culture be shocked to discover that there are other countries, such as Italy and France, that decide their dinner questions on the basis of such quaint and unscientific criteria as pleasure and tradition, eat all manner of “unhealthy” foods, and, lo and behold, wind up actually healthier and happier in their eating than we are. (He subsequently bought another 150 acres.) Deviate from the line and your corn rows will wobble, overlapping or drifting away from one another. The first thing he personally investigated was the life cycle of conventionally grown, industrial corn as it went from field to soda pop to USDA corn fed beef. Something organic? The Big Takeaways: There are almost too many options when it comes to food in America. The cornucopia of the American supermarket has thrown us back on a bewildering food landscape where we once again have to worry that some of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. After a grain of pollen has fallen through the air and alighted on the moistened tip of silk, its nucleus divides in two, creating a pair of twins, each with the same set of genes but a completely different role to perform in the creation of the kernel. A mutation this freakish and maladaptive would have swiftly brought the plant to an evolutionary dead end had one of these freaks not happened to catch the eye of a human somewhere in Central America who, looking for something to eat, peeled open the husk to free the seeds. The book lays its emphasis on whether people should eat fast foods or organic foods. Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2018. It does take some imagination to recognize the ear of corn in the Coke bottle or the Big Mac. All rights reserved. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan explores how we answer the question, “What should we eat.” It traces four types of food chains from a food’s origin to the dinner table. 17-20 -Video Upload powered by https://www.TunesToTube.com Certainly it would never have happened in a culture in possession of deeply rooted traditions surrounding food and eating. But carbon 13 doesn’t lie, and researchers who have compared the isotopes in the flesh or hair of North Americans to those in the same tissues of Mexicans report that it is now we in the North who are the true people of corn. At either end of any food chain you find a biological system—a patch of soil, a human body—and the health of one is connected—literally—to the health of the other. The intricacies of this process are worth following, since they go some distance toward explaining how corn could have conquered our diet and, in turn, more of the earth’s surface than virtually any other domesticated species, our own included. Our bewilderment in the supermarket is no accident; the return of the omnivore’s dilemma has deep roots in the modern food industry, roots that, I found, reach all the way back to fields of corn growing in places like Iowa. My first impression was more shambling Gentle Ben than fiery prairie populist, but I would discover that Naylor can be either fellow, the mere mention of “Cargill” or “Earl Butz” supplying the transformational trigger. Reviewed in the United States on August 2, 2017. But corn goes about this procedure a little differently than most other plants, a difference that not only renders the plant more efficient than most, but happens also to preserve the identity of the carbon atoms it recruits, even after they’ve been transformed into things like Gatorade and Ring Dings and hamburgers, not to mention the human bodies nourished on those things. We’ve discovered that an abundance of food does not render the omnivore’s dilemma obsolete. To some extent this holds true for all of the plants and animals that take part in the grand coevolutionary bargain with humans we call agriculture. Pollan’s readings have also had significant influence on the way people eat. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is best-selling author Michael Pollan’s brilliant and eye-opening exploration of these little-known but vitally important dimensions of eating in America. It offers an insight into the whole of the food industry in the US. It’s difficult to control the means of production when the product you’re selling can reproduce itself endlessly. Corn is in the coffee whitener and Cheez Whiz, the frozen yogurt and TV dinner, the canned fruit and ketchup and candies, the soups and snacks and cake mixes, the frosting and gravy and frozen waffles, the syrups and hot sauces, the mayonnaise and mustard, the hot dogs and the bologna, the margarine and shortening, the salad dressings and the relishes and even the vitamins. Descendents of the Maya living in Mexico still sometimes refer to themselves as “the corn people.” The phrase is not intended as metaphor. In Mr Michael Pollan's book Omnivore's Dilemma, he illustrates to us the tricky situation faced by humans, an omnivorous species. Should we eat a fast-food hamburger? ), The trick doesn’t yet, however, explain how a scientist could tell that a given carbon atom in a human bone owes its presence there to a photosynthetic event that occurred in the leaf of one kind of plant and not another—in corn, say, instead of lettuce or wheat. The fact of our omnivorousness has done much to shape our nature, both body (we possess the omnicompetent teeth and jaws of the omnivore, equally well suited to tearing meat and grinding seeds) and soul. Years later, I'm still referencing them in papers & lectures I give. Had to read this book for a class, and while it's about an interesting subject and has some really good facts, it can get suuuuper boring! Compromise. The human omnivore has, in addition to his senses and memory, the incalculable advantage of a culture, which stores the experience and accumulated wisdom of countless human tasters before him. More even than other domesticated species, many of which can withstand a period of human neglect, it pays for corn to be obliging—and to be so quick about it. I would recommend this book to anybody, not only interested in food but human nature, the relationships between plants, animals, and fungi, government, and an opportunity for a richer, more natural life. eBook Shop: The Omnivore's Dilemma Dial Books von Michael Pollan als Download. Ideally, you would open your mouth as seldom as possible, ingesting as much food as you could with every bite. The corporation, assured for the first time of a return on its investment in breeding, showered corn with attention—R&D, promotion, advertising—and the plant responded, multiplying its fruitfulness year after year. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. And so we dutifully had done, until now. Naylor is a big man with a moon face and a scraggly gray beard. For modified or unmodified starch, for glucose syrup and maltodextrin, for crystalline fructose and ascorbic acid, for lecithin and dextrose, lactic acid and lysine, for maltose and HFCS, for MSG and polyols, for the caramel color and xanthan gum, read: corn. But forgetting, or not knowing in the first place, is what the industrial food chain is all about, the principal reason it is so opaque, for if we could see what lies on the far side of the increasingly high walls of our industrial agriculture, we would surely change the way we eat. According to Mr Pollan, although today we have greatly increased our food varieties, we seem to actually have more difficulty in answering the question "what should we have for dinner today". We show our surprise at this by speaking of something called the “French paradox,” for how could a people who eat such demonstrably toxic substances as foie gras and triple crème cheese actually be slimmer and healthier than we are? It was not, as official opinion claimed, fat that made us fat, but the carbohydrates we’d been eating precisely in order to stay slim. Look how many different plants and animals (and fungi) are represented on this single acre of land! He focuses on how food production in the U.S. has evolved from small farms to a mass production system of huge corn and animal farms operated on factory-based principles. Efficiency and Utility. So violent a change in a culture’s eating habits is surely the sign of a national eating disorder. Corn is what feeds the steer that becomes the steak. If you are fatter, sicker and more lethargic--obese, diabetic and on the fast track to heart disease thank the processed food diet contrived by these two insidious culprits. Except for the salt and a handful of synthetic food additives, every edible item in the supermarket is a link in a food chain that begins with a particular plant growing in a specific patch of soil (or, more seldom, stretch of sea) somewhere on earth. Maize is self-fertilized and wind-pollinated, botanical terms that don’t begin to describe the beauty and wonder of corn sex. Difficult, but not impossible. How did we ever get to a point where we need investigative journalists to tell us where our food comes from and nutritionists to determine the dinner menu? We are indeed what we eat, and what we eat remakes the world. Using sunlight as a catalyst the green cells of plants combine carbon atoms taken from the air with water and elements drawn from the soil to form the simple organic compounds that stand at the base of every food chain. The C-4 trick helps explain the corn plant’s success in this competition: Few plants can manufacture quite as much organic matter (and calories) from the same quantities of sunlight and water and basic elements as corn. Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery and exclusive access to music, movies, TV shows, original audio series, and Kindle books. Pgs. Monday. It begins with a farmer supporting a family on a dozen different species of plants and animals. He told of a towering grass with an ear as thick as a man’s arm, to which grains were “affixed by nature in a wondrous manner and in form and size like garden peas, white when young.” Wondrous, perhaps, yet this was, after all, the staple food of a people that would shortly be vanquished and all but exterminated. The question has confronted us since man discovered fire, but according to Michael Pollan, the bestselling author of The Botany of Desire, how we answer it today, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, may well determine our very survival as a species. Eating puts us in touch with all that we share with the other animals, and all that sets us apart. If you do manage to regard the supermarket through the eyes of a naturalist, your first impression is apt to be of its astounding biodiversity. Certainly the extraordinary abundance of food in America complicates the whole problem of choice. (“Better safe than sorry” or “more is more” being nature’s general rule for male genes.) By replacing solar energy with fossil fuel, by raising millions of food animals in close confinement, by feeding those animals foods they never evolved to eat, and by feeding ourselves foods far more novel than we even realize, we are taking risks with our health and the health of the natural world that are unprecedented. “Once the settlers had fully grasped the secrets and potential of corn, they no longer needed the Native Americans.” Squanto had handed the white man precisely the tool he needed to dispossess the Indian. Along the way, it also tries to figure out how such a simple question could ever have gotten so complicated. One way to think about America’s national eating disorder is as the return, with an almost atavistic vengeance, of the omnivore’s dilemma. Daily, our eating turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds. I like the author's style of writing very much.Quirky and humorous, but informative too. Like the hunter-gatherer picking a novel mushroom off the forest floor and consulting his sense memory to determine its edibility, we pick up the package in the supermarket and, no longer so confident of our senses, scrutinize the label, scratching our heads over the meaning of phrases like “heart healthy,” “no trans fats,” “cage-free,” or “range-fed.” What is “natural grill flavor” or TBHQ or xanthan gum? I'm not sure yet what that means for me personally, or what actions I'll take on the back of having all this new information. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations, Select the department you want to search in. Keep rolling, back to the mirrored rear wall behind which the butchers toil, and you encounter a set of species only slightly harder to identify—there’s chicken and turkey, lamb and cow and pig. Over in fauna, on a good day you’re apt to find—beyond beef—ostrich and quail and even bison, while in Fish you can catch not just salmon and shrimp but catfish and tilapia, too. At its most basic, the story of life on earth is the competition among species to capture and store as much energy as possible—either directly from the sun, in the case of plants, or, in the case of animals, by eating plants and plant eaters. To take the wheel of a clattering 1975 International Harvester tractor, pulling a spidery eight-row planter through an Iowa cornfield during the first week of May, is like trying to steer a boat through a softly rolling sea of dark chocolate. Please try again. There would have been a fair amount of corn then too, but also fruits and other vegetables, as well as oats, hay, and alfalfa to feed the pigs, cattle, chickens, and horses—horses being the tractors of that time. Well, I wasn’t as late as I feared, and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” found a much larger audience than I ever dared to hope. No part of the big grass went to waste: The husks could be woven into rugs and twine; the leaves and stalks made good silage for livestock; the shelled cobs were burned for heat and stacked by the privy as a rough substitute for toilet paper. After the crop has supplied its farmer’s needs, he can go to market with any surplus, dried corn being the perfect commodity: easy to transport and virtually indestructible. The great edifice of variety and choice that is an American supermarket turns out to rest on a remarkably narrow biological foundation comprised of a tiny group of plants that is dominated by a single species: Zea mays, the giant tropical grass most Americans know as corn. ), Corn won over the wheat people because of its versatility, prized especially in new settlements far from civilization. Plants? For a species whose survival depends on how well it can gratify the ever shifting desires of its only sponsor, this has proved to be an excellent evolutionary strategy. Pollan stipulates that the health of children and the environment plays an important role in sustaining life on earth (56). “As lyrical as What to Eat is hard-hitting, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals …may be the best single book I read this year. So when a Mexican says “I am maize” or “corn walking,” it is simply a statement of fact: The very substance of the Mexican’s body is to a considerable extent a manifestation of this plant. The silks emerge from the husk on the very day the tassel is set to shower its yellow dust. Many anthropologists believe that the reason we evolved such big and intricate brains was precisely to help us deal with the omnivore’s dilemma. Go back to the beginning would conquer even the conquerors of Anthropological Research 66 ( ). 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