The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Book Review

October 24, 2008 at 8:44 pm 1 comment

Last week I finally finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It is a non-fiction book about the food we eat and history of how food was produced, and comparing that to today.

I had not heard about The Omnivore’s Dilemma until I read a review of In Defense of Food (by the same author) at The Simple Dollar. It was suggested in this review to read The Omnivore’s Dilemma first (it was published first) and then read In Defense of Food. I think I first heard about In Defense of Food by skimming the NY Times Bestseller lists. I looked up information about the book online, thought it would be a good read, and put it on my never ending to read list. So when I heard there was a book written before In Defense of Food, I decided to take the advice of The Simple Dollar and read The Omnivore’s Dilemma first.

It took me a while to read this book, a few months. Busyness is probably my best excuse as to why it took me so long to finish it. It was a worthwhile book, I enjoyed reading it and I learned a great deal about the way food used to be grown/raised and how things have changed in our fast paced, mass produced way of living.

In short, most of the food we eat today has less nutrients than it used to. Farmers and scientists are trying to find faster ways to produce food and they do not seem to care if the quality decreases. Of course this is not the case across the board, but is for the vast majority.

Much of prepackaged food is very, very processed. Just read the ingredients label next time you look in your pantry – do you even know what half the ingredients are? Many of the preservatives are not good for us.

I have been thinking more and more about the food I buy and what I eat (as well as what I feed my family), and after reading this book, it’s on my mind all the more. I am taking little steps in making our food better for us. For example, I try not to buy prepackaged food and buy whole foods instead. If I want to bake a cake, I’ll make it from scratch. I don’t want or need the preservatives that are in cake mixes. I just finished a bottle of teriyaki sauce the other day. My hope is that I will not buy teriyaki sauce again, but will just make it from scratch if I need it for a recipe.

At this point, I still buy ketchup, peanut butter, mustard, and mayonnaise. Although I tried some organic peanut butter from Costco (Richfood brand) – I bought it because the only ingredients are peanuts and salt, no oil! It’s definitely not the same as Peter Pan peanut butter, but I have gotten used to it. And I do have a recipe for mayonnaise that I hope to try soon.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma brought up a lot of information about meat. For now, I will use what I have, regular meat from our local grocery store. But I am hoping to search around locally to find grass-fed meat. The price will most likely be considerably higher than what I am paying now, but I do believe it will be worth the cost, to avoid the added hormones and who knows what else we are getting from the grocery store meat.

If eating well is important to you and if you are not afraid to find out where most of our food comes from, I recommend this book to you.

Are you trying to eat more healthily? If so, what are you doing to accomplish this?

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