Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

I just finished "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. I found it highly informative and interesting -- and a page-turner, despite the heavy subject matter.

Pollan looks at three food vectors: industrial food production, pastoral (and organic), and "personal" (hunting and gathering). At the end of each section, he has a meal of the fruits of that vector.

In the first, industrial, he ends with lunch at McDonalds, eaten while driving down the highway in a car. He starts off in a cornfield, and takes the reader from there to the feedlots, to the processing of the corn into all those ingredients on the side of a box or jar that read like Greek, to the food processing plants that use all these inscrutable ingredients to make modern convenience or processed foods, to the counter at McDonalds.

In the second section, the concluding meal is one made of organically grown chicken and a chocolate souffle from organically grown eggs. But the interesting part of this section is the description of "pastoral" farming -- "beyond organic" -- and the new Whole Foods-style "organic industry."

The final section concludes with a meal of wild pig which the author hunted himself (although he'd never even fired a gun prior to this), along with some wild mushrooms he foraged and a few other things he picked up in nature.

I read this book in eformat (from ereader.com) on my little Palm Zire, so the pages were small without too much on them -- still, I learned something new on most pages! Some of it shocked me; all of it really made me think.

My husband and I completely revolutionized the way we eat a few years back (an ongoing process, actually). Not so much for moral or political reasons, but for practicality. We suddenly found ourselves with more time (quit a hobby that ate up significant chunks of our time every week for more than 25 years) and less money (he took early retirement and is being bridged until he's 65). Most of our food decisions are made on price, location and availability, and we've started making almost everything from scratch (with excellent results!) and even growing a little of our own food (with limited results so far). For us, the timing of happening upon this book couldn't have been better.

If, like us, you're going through some changes to your approach to food, I'd definitely recommend this book. Probably the best read I've had in a long while -- I'm almost sorry I finished it.


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