Resolving the omnivore’s dilemma

The Omnivore's DilemmaMany people make new year’s resolutions and one of mine has been finishing to read books I had sitting near my bed unfinished. One of them has been so fascinating, eye-opening, thought-provoking, that I want to share about it. It is called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, whose article in the New York Times inspired my first post on this blog. As it is my habit, when I like a writer, I try to read all of his books. I have watched a fascinating video based on another of Michael Pollan’s books, “The Botany of Desire”, and I am about to start reading “In Defense of Food” but right now I just want to celebrate completing “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and the lessons it inspired.

The book starts with a simple, yet profound question: “What should we have for dinner“. This question is relevant to me in many, personally significant, ways, not the least because, lover of food as I am, years ago I posed a very similar question to my mom, asking her “What do we have for dinner“, which sparked my first argument with her and initiated my quest for… God… But that is another story for another day…

The book takes us on a journey (and I love journeys; what with this site being subtitled “Journaling my spiritual journey”) across the main ways we put food (or what we think is food) at the table. From the fast food restaurant (which does not require a table per se, as you can consume it in the car), through the industrial agricultural chains which start with massive fields of corn and end with massive shelves at the “regular” grocery stores, taking a detour through what is labeled as “organic” food at your local Whole Foods, to the most fascinating destination — for me personally at least — the Polyface Farms in Virginia.

Now, this is a truly inspiring and thought-provoking destination, not the least because my parents retired as subsistence farmers and because the example of Joel Salatin and his Polyface Farms validates some of the principles with which I grew up, but also enriches them.

The book finishes with the adventures leading towards the “perfect” meal — the meal where everything is grown or gathered or harvested or hunted by one’s own hands, and those of the friends with whom you share the meal. Michael Pollan is the first to admit that such a meal is not practical, not at least on a daily basis. But as he rightly reflects, a fast food meal is not sustainable on a daily basis either.

Foraging a cherry saplingI once wrote a song called “Sapling” with a verse paraphrased as this: “There are many fruit trees in the orchard of humanity but not a single one of them would give you the satisfaction of the fruit you grow with your own hands”. I will do my best to garden more and explore more, foraging Mother nature’s offerings; I will also sign up for a share of a community supported sustainable farm. But I will also do my best to share more meals with friends…

As I was sitting today at lunch with my team mates celebrating one of their birthdays, I surveyed all of them asking them how often they ate their lunches at the desk: three to five days a week, most answered. And I myself have become equally complacent in this regard. So, here is to new year resolutions, and to resolving the omnivore’s dilemma: I will eat more healthy, sustainable meals among friends and family. Will you join me? If so, let me know.

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Data Visualization of the Food Commute : WebSage :

    […] as the Slow Food movement and Michael Pollan’s call to know where our food comes from, there are more and more people who demand to know the origin of their food and the way it travels […]

    7 years ago

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