And yet the new follies we are perpetrating in our industrial food chain today are of a different order. It is very much in the interest of the food industry to exacerbate our anxieties about what to eat, the better to then assuage them with new products. A great many of the health and environmental problems created by our food system owe to our attempts to oversimplify nature’s complexities, at both the growing and the eating ends of our food chain. So what exactly would an ecological detective set loose in an American supermarket discover, were he to trace the items in his shopping cart all the way back to the soil? One would expect to find a comparatively high proportion of carbon 13 in the flesh of people whose staple food of choice is corn—Mexicans, most famously. The usual way a domesticated species figures out what traits its human ally will reward is through the slow and wasteful process of Darwinian trial and error. 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. Once you get into the processed foods you have to be a fairly determined ecological detective to follow the intricate and increasingly obscure lines of connection linking the Twinkie, or the nondairy creamer, to a plant growing in the earth someplace, but it can be done. A collective spasm of what can only be described as carbophobia seized the country, supplanting an era of national lipophobia dating to the Carter administration. Certainly the extraordinary abundance of food in America complicates the whole problem of choice. Our taste buds help too, predisposing us toward sweetness, which signals carbohydrate energy in nature, and away from bitterness, which is how many of the toxic alkaloids produced by plants taste. 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. Reviewed in the United States on October 27, 2016, Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2017, Omnivore's Dilemma was assigned to me in an upper-level economics course, along with other similar books. The higher the ratio of carbon 13 to carbon 12 in a person’s flesh, the more corn has been in his diet—or in the diet of the animals he or she ate. Early in the twentieth century American corn breeders figured out how to bring corn reproduction under firm control and to protect the seed from copiers. The book’s second part follows what I call—to distinguish it from the industrial—the pastoral food chain. I don’t mean to suggest that human food chains have only recently come into conflict with the logic of biology; early agriculture and, long before that, human hunting proved enormously destructive. (Hence the American slang term “corn hole.”), “Corn was the means that permitted successive waves of pioneers to settle new territories,” writes Arturo Warman, a Mexican historian. were my absolute favorites. This shopping feature will continue to load items when the Enter key is pressed. Unable to add item to List. And yet what is this place if not a landscape (man-made, it’s true) teeming with plants and animals? I had a feeling I would like this book and I was right. It had to adapt itself not just to humans but to their machines, which it did by learning to grow as upright, stiff-stalked, and uniform as soldiers. Put simply, if a being can eat anything in order to obtain the energy and nutrients it needs to live, then it faces a dilemma not of survival but rather of choice. What should we have for dinner? Along the way, the plant—whose prodigious genetic variability allows it to adapt rapidly to new conditions—made itself at home in virtually every microclimate in North America; hot or cold, dry or wet, sandy soil or heavy, short day or long, corn, with the help of its Native American allies, evolved whatever traits it needed to survive and flourish. And yield, measured in bushels per acre, is the measure of all things here in corn country. Along the way, it also tries to figure out how such a simple question could ever have gotten so complicated. 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. Either way, it’ll earn you a measure of neighborly derision and hurt your yield. For an American like me, growing up linked to a very different food chain, yet one that is also rooted in a field of corn, not to think of himself as a corn person suggests either a failure of imagination or a triumph of capitalism. True, I was no longer aghast at the information shared--there is now a mountain of irrefutable evidence that Big Agri and the Food Industry work hand in glove to feed us little better than garbage--chemical simulations of meals. A sobering, but still entertaining read. This is the omnivore’s dilemma, noted long ago by writers like Rousseau and Brillat-Savarin and first given that name thirty years ago by a University of Pennsylvania research psychologist named Paul Rozin. 4,6 von 5 Sternen 1.741. To go from the chicken (Gallus gallus) to the Chicken McNugget is to leave this world in a journey of forgetting that could hardly be more costly, not only in terms of the animal’s pain but in our pleasure, too. 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. American Indians were the world’s first plant breeders, developing literally thousands of distinct cultivars for every conceivable environment and use. Many people today seem perfectly content eating at the end of an industrial food chain, without a thought in the world; this book is probably not for them. It has also given me hope that I will be able to see Joel Salatin's dream in my lifetime. 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. Agriculture allowed us to vastly multiply the populations of a few favored food species, and therefore in turn our own. A great, fun read that I can't imagine anyone not liking. To wash down your chicken nuggets with virtually any soft drink in the supermarket is to have some corn with your corn. And worse, we don’t know how to fi gure it out. The Omnivore's dilemma is this: When you can eat just about anything nature has to offer, deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir anxiety. 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. In order to make this meal I had to learn how to do some unfamiliar things, including hunting game and foraging for wild mushrooms and urban tree fruit. Since monoculture is the hallmark of the industrial food chain, this section focuses on a single plant: Zea mays, the giant tropical grass we call corn, which has become the keystone species of the industrial food chain, and so in turn of the modern diet. By comparison, the pleasures of eating industrially, which is to say eating in ignorance, are fleeting. 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. To surmount this last problem, each flower sends out through the tip of the husk a single, sticky strand of silk (technically its “style”) to snag its own grain of pollen. 12,75 € Verändere dein Bewusstsein: Was uns die neue Psychedelik-Forschung über Sucht, Depression, Todesfurcht und Transzendenz lehrt Michael Pollan. 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. (Originally “corn” was a generic English word for any kind of grain, even a grain of salt—hence “corned beef” it didn’t take long for Zea mays to appropriate the word for itself, at least in America.) But in the end this is a book about the pleasures of eating, the kinds of pleasure that are only deepened by knowing. I spend a lot of time reading about, preparing, and eating food and I liked the idea of finding out more about how our modern food chain functions. Humans still face an abundance of dietary choice, although for different reasons. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 28, 2012. Looked at another way, corn was the first plant to involve humans so intimately in its sex life. 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. And this diversity appears only to be increasing: When I was a kid, you never saw radicchio in the produce section, or a half dozen different kinds of mushrooms, or kiwis and passion fruit and durians and mangoes. Should we eat a fast-food hamburger? The tractor I was driving belonged to George Naylor, who bought it new back in the midseventies, when, as a twenty-seven-year-old, he returned to Greene County, Iowa, to farm his family’s 320 acres. 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. Within a day of conception, the now superfluous silk dries up, eventually turning reddish brown; fifty or so days later, the kernels are mature.*. In the plant world at least, opportunism trumps gratitude. You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition. Upon arrival in the flower the second twin fuses with the egg to form the embryo—the germ of the future kernel. Measured in terms of output per worker, American farmers like Naylor are the most productive humans who have ever lived. Forty percent of the calories a Mexican eats in a day comes directly from corn, most of it in the form of tortillas. Plants? George’s grandfather moved his family to Iowa from Derbyshire, England, in the 1880s, a coal miner hoping to improve his lot in life. eBook Shop: The Omnivore's Dilemma Dial Books von Michael Pollan als Download. Informative, entertaining, and often alarming, The Omnivore's Dilemma examines dietary trends, the origins of what we eat, and the impact of our food choices on the environment and our health, and sheds desperately needed light on the saying "you are what you eat." Shall I be a carnivore or a vegetarian? Each of the four hundred to eight hundred flowers on a cob has the potential to develop into a kernel—but only if a grain of pollen can find its way to its ovary, a task complicated by the distance the pollen has to travel and the intervening husk in which the cob is tightly wrapped. 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. In recent years some of this supermarket euphemism has seeped into Produce, where you’ll now find formerly soil-encrusted potatoes cubed pristine white, and “baby” carrots machine-lathed into neatly tapered torpedoes. What is perhaps most troubling, and sad, about industrial eating is how thoroughly it obscures all these relationships and connections. Find summaries for every chapter, including a The Omnivore's Dilemma Chapter Summary Chart to help you understand the book. Reviewed in the United States on August 2, 2017. 17-20 -Video Upload powered by After water, carbon is the most common element in our bodies—indeed, in all living things on earth. 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. Analysis Of The Omnivore 's Dilemma Calls The American National Eating Disorder 1301 Words | 6 Pages. Caffeine: How coffee and tea created the modern world, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition. But most important of all, they found that the seeds produced by these seeds did not “come true”—the plants in the second (F-2) generation bore little resemblance to the plants in the first. It might be hard to see how, but even a Twinkie does this—constitutes an engagement with the natural world. One is that there exists a fundamental tension between the logic of nature and the logic of human industry, at least as it is presently organized. Every kernel of corn is the product of this intricate ménage à trois; the tiny, stunted kernels you often see at the narrow end of a cob are flowers whose silk no pollen grain ever penetrated. Yet I wonder if it doesn’t make more sense to speak in terms of an American paradox—that is, a notably unhealthy people obsessed by the idea of eating healthily. The male organs stayed put, remaining in the tassel. But the surfeit of choice brings with it a lot of stress and leads to a kind of Manichaean view of food, a division of nature into The Good Things to Eat, and The Bad. In order to determine how we got to this point, Pollan decided to go back to the beginning. 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. For anyone who reads it, dinner will never again look, or taste, quite the same. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations, Select the department you want to search in. It would not be apt to confuse protein bars and food supplements with meals or breakfast cereals with medicines. This part of Iowa has some of the richest soil in the world, a layer of cakey alluvial loam nearly two feet thick. Pleasure and Happiness. 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. 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. Indeed, we might never have needed agriculture had earlier generations of hunters not eliminated the species they depended upon. What happens next is very strange. Pollan’s readings have also had significant influence on the way people eat. 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. 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. Originally, the atoms of carbon from which we’re made were floating in the air, part of a carbon dioxide molecule. Long before scientists understood hybridization, Native Americans had discovered that by taking the pollen from the tassel of one corn plant and dusting it on the silks of another, they could create new plants that combined the traits of both parents. An icon used to represent a menu that can be toggled by interacting with this icon. Spritzed with morning dew every few minutes, Produce is the only corner of the supermarket where we’re apt to think “Ah, yes, the bounty of Nature!” Which probably explains why such a garden of fruits and vegetables (sometimes flowers, too) is what usually greets the shopper coming through the automatic doors. The implications of this last revolution, for our health and the health of the natural world, we are still struggling to grasp. 4,5 von 5 Sternen 56. Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2018. Venture farther, though, and you come to regions of the supermarket where the very notion of species seems increasingly obscure: the canyons of breakfast cereals and condiments; the freezer cases stacked with “home meal replacements” and bagged platonic peas; the broad expanses of soft drinks and towering cliffs of snacks; the unclassifiable Pop-Tarts and Lunchables; the frankly synthetic coffee whiteners and the Linnaeus-defying Twinkie. There are in fact no wild maize plants, and teosinte, the weedy grass from which corn is believed to have descended (the word is Nahuatl for “mother of corn”), has no ear, bears its handful of tiny naked seeds on a terminal rachis like most other grasses, and generally looks nothing whatsoever like maize. 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. How does one distinguish between the delicious and the deadly when foraging in the woods? I enjoyed the language and style of writing even though it was complicated and slightly hard to understand in some spots. Grab a beer for your beverage instead and you’d still be drinking corn, in the form of alcohol fermented from glucose refined from corn. Eating puts us in touch with all that we share with the other animals, and all that sets us apart. Although I am from the UK many practices in the US are going on over here. 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. So far, this reckless-seeming act of evolutionary faith in us has been richly rewarded. The Omnivore’s Dilemma in the Food Chain Search. The tassel at the top of the plant houses the male organs, hundreds of pendant anthers that over the course of a few summer days release a superabundance of powdery yellow pollen: 14 million to 18 million grains per plant, 20,000 for every potential kernel. 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. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. I didn't find it too bias, I thought maybe the author was slightly judgmental of industrial food, however after experiencing what goes on there I can see why he would be, even if he was trying not to be. It also analyzes reviews to verify trustworthiness. Or perhaps a little of both. One has to wonder if Michelle Obama would have chosen to plant a White House garden had it not been for Pollan and the huge influence he’s had on chefs, consumers and the culture of American eating. Ecology also teaches that all life on earth can be viewed as a competition among species for the solar energy captured by green plants and stored in the form of complex carbon molecules. Pollan points out that we tend to think grass is a monolith (i.e. The koala doesn’t worry about what to eat: If it looks and smells and tastes like a eucalyptus leaf, it must be dinner. Many of these species have evolved expressly to gratify our desires, in the intricate dance of domestication that has allowed us and them to prosper together as we could never have prospered apart. Our inborn sense of disgust keeps us from ingesting things that might infect us, such as rotten meat. 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. I’m talking of course about bread. Certainly it would never have happened in a culture in possession of deeply rooted traditions surrounding food and eating. Michael Pollan is the author of seven previous books, including Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. And so we dutifully had done, until now. It would not be susceptible to the pendulum swings of food scares or fads, to the apotheosis every few years of one newly discovered nutrient and the demonization of another. Centuries before the Pilgrims arrived the plant had already spread north from central Mexico, where it is thought to have originated, all the way to New England, where Indians were probably cultivating it by 1000. The silks emerge from the husk on the very day the tassel is set to shower its yellow dust. 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. “When you look at the isotope ratios,” Todd Dawson, a Berkeley biologist who’s done this sort of research, told me, “we North Americans look like corn chips with legs.” Compared to us, Mexicans today consume a far more varied carbon diet: the animals they eat still eat grass (until recently, Mexicans regarded feeding corn to livestock as a sacrilege); much of their protein comes from legumes; and they still sweeten their beverages with cane sugar. It is definitely written with a clear North American focus, but in our modern globalised economy I think many of the same truths are applicable here in the UK (and around the world). Head over to the processed foods and you find ever more intricate manifestations of corn. What he finds is that the food we put in our mouths turns out to be a big decision- a moral, political, and environmental one. 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. By recruiting extra atoms of carbon during each instance of photosynthesis, the corn plant is able to limit its loss of water and “fix”—that is, take from the atmosphere and link in a useful molecule—significantly more carbon than other plants. In order to navigate out of this carousel please use your heading shortcut key to navigate to the next or previous heading. There was an error retrieving your Wish Lists. The sight of such soil, pushing up and then curling back down behind the blade of his plow like a thick black wake behind a ship, must have stoked his confidence, and justifiably so: It’s gorgeous stuff, black gold as deep as you can dig, as far as you can see. Monday. There are some forty-five thousand items in the average American supermarket and more than a quarter of them now contain corn. Rather, it's more a tale of an individual journey towards a greater understanding of where our food comes from - which really resonates with me. Hybridization represents a far swifter and more efficient means of communication, or feedback loop, between plant and human; by allowing humans to arrange its marriages, corn can discover in a single generation precisely what qualities it needs to prosper. Omnivory offers the pleasures of variety, too. 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. Our culture codifies the rules of wise eating in an elaborate structure of taboos, rituals, recipes, manners, and culinary traditions that keep us from having to reenact the omnivore’s dilemma at every meal. Yet as different as these three journeys (and four meals) turned out to be, a few themes kept cropping up. This book is a long and fairly involved answer to this seemingly simple question. 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 the same time, the food industry has done a good job of persuading us that the forty-five thousand different items or SKUs (stock keeping units) in the supermarket—seventeen thousand new ones every year—represent genuine variety rather than so many clever rearrangements of molecules extracted from the same plant. This is one of the ways in which the imperatives of biology are difficult to mesh with the imperatives of business. The Omnivore's Dilemma: Young Readers Edition, The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, Gold Medal in Nonfiction for the California Book Award • Winner of the 2007 Bay Area Book Award for Nonfiction • Winner of the 2007 James Beard Book Award/Writing on Food Category • Finalist for the 2007 Orion Book Award • Finalist for the 2007 NBCC Award. 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