The Omnivores Dilemma (book) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-15-2008, 12:21 AM
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Has anyone read this book? What did you think? My dads getting it for my birthday and I'm really looking forward to it.
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#2 Old 01-15-2008, 12:30 AM
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From reading some reactions to it, it seems like a pretty annoying book. Animal suffering is dismissed.

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#3 Old 01-15-2008, 09:30 AM
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I've read this book about three times.

It's absolutely well written and worth the effort.

Animal suffering is not dismissed! Not even in the slightest! The author does think about many of the factors involved with food production and animal suffering is one of them. I don't want to give too much away, but he does struggle with eating meat, and, while he doesn't become a vegetarian, he is aware of all the issues and has seen what eating meat looks like from different perspectives; hunting your own, factory farming and from a sustainable polyfarm.

The book also delves into some fascinating areas like big box organic, and compares it to big box industrial. The mushroom chapters was one of the most interesting, IMO, since I didn't have a clue about mushroom hunting before reading it.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavanto

'May everyone everywhere be happy
May the whole world be joyous'
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#4 Old 01-15-2008, 09:38 AM
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^^What she said. It's worth reading, several times. I'm going to hear the author speak in March.

"Yes! Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" Auntie Mame
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#5 Old 01-15-2008, 10:04 AM
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I've read this review of the book, which is just awesome (the review, that is):

Some excerpts:

But by reducing man’s moral nature to an extension of our instincts, Pollan is free to present his appetite as a sort of moral-o-meter, the final authority for judging the rightness of all things culinary. He shoots a wild pig, for example, hugely enjoying the experience. We even get a spiel about how hunting makes people face the inevitability of their own death. (Psychologists have long asserted the opposite: As Otto Rank put it, and in words relevant to meat eating in general, “the death fear of the ego is lessened by the killing, the sacrifice, of the other.”) Ah, but then Pollan sees a photo of himself leering over the corpse and feels bad. So is killing pigs right or wrong? Or as he puts it, “What if it turned out I couldn’t eat this meat?”

Spoiler alert: He could. He even congratulates himself on “doing well by the animal” by cooking and chewing it with the proper reverence. As reluctant as he is to attribute fear and pain to a live animal— one mustn’t anthropomorphize!—he sees nothing strange in attributing a concern for decorum to a dead one. He apparently believes that we cannot fully relate to animals until they become food. In the introduction, we are told that eating something—“transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds”—constitutes the deepest possible “relationship” with it, “the most profound engagement” of all. (German police had to listen to similar reasoning in 2002 after arresting one Armin Meiwes, who had just put his omnicompetent jaws to work on a Siemens engineer.)

When Pollan finally cooks a chicken for a few friends, the moral-o-meter’s reading is conclusive: The meal is “out of this world.” The only complication is the presence of his friends’ son Matthew, “fifteen and currently a vegetarian,” who “had many more questions about killing chickens than I thought wise to answer at the dinner table.” Of course! But doesn’t Pollan say in his introduction that the pleasures of eating are “only deepened by knowing”? And if it is so natural to kill and eat animals, and so sentimental to think otherwise, why is the vegetarian the only one who can stomach the details? Pollan can’t be bothered telling us why Matthew became a vegetarian. We are clearly meant to take it for a mere teenage phase, nothing a restriction of his options won’t cure: “He confined himself to the corn.”

A record of the gourmet’s ongoing failure to think in moral terms, The Omnivore’s Dilemma helps one to understand why no reformer ever gave a damn about fine dining—or the family dinner table either. When Jesus vowed to turn children against their parents, he knew he’d be ruining an untold number of perfectly good meals.

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#6 Old 01-15-2008, 10:37 AM
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I have not read it, but I hate that it seems to have given more people in my area reason (in their minds) to eat meat (humanely farmed or hunted, of course).
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#7 Old 01-15-2008, 10:51 AM
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I read this book a while ago. It bothered me that when Pollard goes temporarily vegetarian, like so many who do this for the wrong reasons, he makes it sound hard and impractical.

And he seems to present issues of animals rights not so much to be balanced but more so as to be slippery in his rebuttals which tend to land on the side of animal welfare. Despite communicating with Peter Singer and being well versed in animal rights the author had no qualms about the killing of an animal. As is his right (I say reluctantly) but his bias is all too clear. Whatever attempts he's made at objectivity here seem disingenuous. He seems to use inductive arguments built up to support positions he wanted to believe before even starting any research.

What I disliked most about this book is that there was no conclusion to tie it all up. It just sort of ended with him eating a meal. I figured he might tie it all together and make some sort of revelation or some sort of sense of it all. Honestly, in the end I think if I was an omnivore and I read this book I wouldn't be left much caring that I had a dilemma. As a vegan I was just annoyed.

The Way We Eat, Why Our Food Choice Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason is a similar sort of book in that they trace the origins of various food choices and they do a much better and unbiased job of it in my opinion.

I agree that the chapter on mushrooms was interesting. But considering the scope of the rest of the book it seemed really out of place and insignificant, like a chapter from a completely different book almost.
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#8 Old 01-15-2008, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

I've read this review of the book, which is just awesome (the review, that is):

Some excerpts:

sounds like this book would only annoy me, if the reviews are accurate
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#9 Old 01-15-2008, 01:02 PM
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Listen to Colleen's Podcast about this book here:

This is the synopsis of the Podcast:

I'm thrilled to report that another voice has just pierced the "sustainable/humane meat" illusion - and what a voice! B.R. Myers, a book critic for the Atlantic Monthly magazine, has written a fiercely honest criticism of Michael Pollan’s book in the September 2007 issue of the magazine, and I read it here. It’s called "Hard to Swallow: The gourmet’s ongoing failure to think in moral terms." Myers adeptly scrutinizes Pollan’s bogus arguments, chews them up, and spits them out. Though the doublespeak of such "excuse-itarians" as Michael Pollan has always been very clear to me, it was incredibly satisfying to have a respected writer agree that Pollan’s justifications leave as bitter a taste in his mouth as they do in mine. And to have it published in a magazine such as The Atlantic gives me great reason for hope.
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