As you may recall in my previous blog, I recently read The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. The book is broken into 3 sections: Industrial/Corn, Pastoral/Grass, and Personal/Forest. Each section is further broken down into several chapters. It includes some tough chapters on animal slaughter and factory farms, but that is only part of the book.
Section one starts out giving a history lesson on corn and the many products in this country that have corn as some sort of ingredient. It also details how this tremendous crop has become the bane of many farmers’ existence. I actually learned a few things that I didn’t already know regarding the vicious cycle of corn farming in America.
In section two, Pollan spends a week working on Polyface farm in Virginia. For those of you who saw Food, Inc., this is Joel Salatin’s farm where all the animals are allowed to practice their natural behaviors, spend most of their time “free on the range,” and are fed their natural diet. I have a lot of respect for Pollan actually experiencing the hard work that farmers like Joel Salatin go through.
Pollan wraps up the book with section three, in which he debates the ethics of eating animals, experiences hunting wild pig and foraging for wild mushrooms, and prepares an entire meal from scratch using items he obtained in his section three “adventures.”
I really appreciated the effort he put into “tracking” a particular food item from its start to where it may ultimately end up, whether it was corn from a large industrial farm, a steer in a factory farm, or a pig on a family farm. He does a good job of including virtually all aspects of our food supply system. As the title implies, he also contrasts four meals: a fast food meal in section one, an “organic industrial meal” purchased from Whole Foods in section two, a home cooked meal made from non-factory farmed “grass-fed” foods - which were fresh ingredients from Polyface Farm - also in section two, and another home cooked meal made from a combination of foods he foraged for, hunted, or grew in his own garden in section three.
At the end of the book, he includes all the sources he used in writing this piece and includes his website address. His website has many useful links, such as resources for sustainable eating, resources for gardeners/farmers/ranchers, and many more.
If you care about your health and the health of your family, I highly encourage you to read this book and learn more about where your food comes from.