Most diet or nutrition books dole out advice as if it were a magic, cure-all pill; as if all people’s bodies would benefit from this or that diet or change. And maybe some of them are right. Cutting out sugar, reducing the size of meals, and getting rid of processed foods are all good ideas – there is a body of non-negotiable evidence that say they are.
But The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, does no such thing. It doesn’t give you one meal plan, tell you to cut out butter, or promise that you will live forever. Instead, it explores the chain from field to table, and gives some practical advice based on that process.
Michael Pollan, the author of Omnivore’s, is like the Krakauer of the food world. He wrote Omnivore’s before writing Cooked, which was translated to TV and satisfied millions of binge-hungry Netflix users.
Omnivore’s explores where our food comes from, the problems with food structures, and how to eat better for your body and your communities. If you are looking for a diet book, this isn’t quite it. He gives suggestions for diet based on what humans are supposed to eat, and makes a strong case for paying attention to the food that goes into our bodies.
More than anything, Pollan has a knack for synthesizing research and competing narratives to provide a clear picture of what our food lives currently look like. Unfortunately, it isn’t terribly pretty.
For those who want to be more informed, are considering vegetarianism, or who care about the health of their bodies and the health of larger communities and food systems, Omnivore’s is for you.
Hint, this book is no Cowspiracy, but it also isn’t a rose-colored fairytale on such topics as mass-meat production… Don’t worry. If you like your steak too much to consider giving it up, you can always skip the meat chapter.
By Kristen Edge